While consumers are enthralled with jeans with an authentic stonewashed look, the industry is working overtime to give them what they want without reverting to the unhealthy dry finishing processes used in the 90s to achieve the effect.
Rudolf Group developed Dry Way in response to requests for a sustainable dry finishing solution. Made without sand or other silica-containing compound, Dry Way’s three-step process begins with Rudolf Bio-Scrape, a biodegradable, woody abrasive made from fruit waste. The granular enzyme, which Alberto De Conti, head of marketing and fashion division at Rudolf Group, likens to a face scrub, is used for low-temperature stonewashing without pumice stones. After the garment is rinsed, powder denim bleaching is applied to create contrasted and bleached looks.
To add softness to the fabric, a new laundry aid that works in the dryer replaces traditional fabric softening. Placed in a compostable non-woven bag, the active ingredient is released when the melting temperature is reached. The ingredient settles on the fabric, giving it a similar feel to real vintage denim.
Dry Way allows for “significant and measurable” water and energy savings and is usable with any type of machinery.
Along with providing the laundry for PVH Europe’s and Kingpins’ “Most Sustainable Product Collection” on display at the show, technology company Tonello unveiled updates to its Laundry (R)Evolution that increases transparency, traceability and productivity.
The addition of Be On Point, or B.O.P., speeds up laser finishing. The technology automatically positions the laser design on garments, meaning workers don’t have to be precise when positioning the garments on the tabletop laser machine. The upgrade, which can be seamlessly integrated with existing Tonello’s THE Laser systems, allows a choice of different production modes and detects up to eight garments at once.
While much of Tonello’s focus has been on developing and enhancing its laser range, the company’s creative juices were also on display at the show. Garments featured a mix of static ozone and bleaching effects, colors derived from natural sources like persimmon, and layered effects, such as a jean that was mostly discharged of its indigo and then overdyed with natural dyes. The garments featured grades A to F on hangtags, determined by Metro, Tonello’s software that automatically measures the actual consumption of a laundry and summarizes the findings in “environmental passports” for each garment.
The company is taking steps to normalize these technologies and help clients find the laundry system that best fits their needs. Taking cues from the gaming industry, the new Configurator available on Tonello’s website allows clients to choose the technologies, software and accessories for their next laundry. Clients can combine solutions and receive projections about their energy and resource consumption as well as estimates on savings and sustainability benefits.
Zipper giant YKK presented the “world’s first” detachable button and rivet. The invention helps streamline the separation of metal trims from garments from recycling—a pain point for garment recycling centers—and brings metal trim-based fabric waste to zero.
The patent-pending buttons and rivets can be attached with standard machines and easily detached with a simple hand tool. They can also be finished with YKK’s AcroPlating technology, a range of non-toxic metal finishes produced using 65 percent less water, 60 percent less electricity and 90 percent less sludge generation compared to conventional processes.
Calik debuted B210, a multi-prong process that biodegrades its stretch and rigid fabrics within 210 days. Without divulging proprietary information, a rep said B210 is a process that takes place across all stages of production, from yarn to dye, and is compatible with “normal washing treatments.”
The project was three years in the making. While it’s too early to expand, the rep said it could one day be applied to non-denim fabrics as well.
Visitors could download The Lycra Company’s “Planet Agenda Update,” its first annual public report on its sustainability efforts. The company will have even more to report on in the future, however.
With 85 percent of the 100 billion garments produced annually ending up in landfills, Lycra strategic marketing director Ebru Ozaydin said brands want to move away from circular stories about reusing plastic bottles and use their waste or deadstock instead to close the loop.
Enter Lycra’s range of circular products, including Coolmax EcoMade and Thermolite EcoMade. Made from 100 percent textile waste, the fibers are achieved by collecting scraps of polyester waste, followed by a depolymerization and refining step that turns the waste into chips. The chips become fibers woven into new fabrics with the same performance benefits as virgin materials.
Circular technologies with temperature-regulating benefits arrive at a time when the weather is at its most extreme. Ozaydin said she sees new opportunities for climate-adaptive products and hopes to show how smart technologies could one day help lower energy costs for heating and air conditioning. “We’re looking at how fashion can provide a solution other than layering,” she said.
Lycra also introduced a new visual tool to help demonstrate the benefits of Lycra Adaptiv fiber. The CGI video showcases how the patent-pending polymer’s unique chemistry adjusts to fit a wearer’s functional needs.
When the wearer is at rest, the polymer adapts its holding force to deliver the right fit, shape, and control. But when the wearer is in motion, the polymer adapts its elasticity to provide improved comfort and a second-skin effect that enables the garment to stay in place. This breakthrough fiber enables brands and retailers to create jeans that adapt to fit different body shapes and genders while offering consumers a liberating wearing experience with its soft and easy stretch.
While Lycra’s stretch technologies are often viewed as solutions for women’s jeans, DNM Denim made a strong case for Lycra Adaptiv for men. The mill debuted the first Lycra Adaptiv fabric collection geared for men’s products called Adapt’n Move.
As one of Levi’s largest suppliers for men, the Turkish mill is well acquainted with the unique requests that come with making men’s fabric authentic looking, durable and comfortable. Male consumers prioritize comfort over shaping for stretch jeans. They also want stretch fabrics without dense constructions or spongy hand feels.
Adapt’n Move fabrics have 30-35 percent elasticity in the warp, resulting in low compression levels that are ideal for slim, tapered and skinny fits. The range addresses challenges like weight fluctuation and helps extend the lifespan of garments that keep their shape after repeated wears. It also gives jeans brands a solution that can compete with the level of comfort and freedom of movement that sweatpants offer.
“The fabric gives what men want without the ballerina fit,” Ozaydin said.
DNM’s collection currently offers five fabrics in 10.5- to 12-ounce weights blended with fibers like cotton, Tencel and Lycra T-400, and more are on the way.
Artistic Milliners, one of the biggest users of Tencel, introduced fabrics with mechanically recycled Tencel. The first-of-its-kind circular fiber is made from the mill’s own Tencel waste that is collected and processed at Circular Park, a purpose-built fabric recovery facility powered by clean energy capable of recovering up to half a million tons of textile waste every month. The recycled Tencel fibers are then blended with cotton to make new fabrics.
Comfort and softness are the main stories in Artistic Milliners’ entire collection. The Velouté collection, available in indigo, black and garment dye, has the heavy look of traditional 501 jeans but with a cozier touch. The mill worked on yarns for its Cloud 9 range of fabrics. Some have a soft weave; others have soft yarns with a tighter feel. Linen is also a growing category for Artistic Milliners. While hemp is still a key fiber and kickstarted the buzz for bast fibers, Baber Sultan, Artistic Milliners director of product and research, said it has its limitations, opening new opportunities for linen.
Artistic Milliners delivers fashion with a range of Y2K-inspired fabrics made with a suite of sustainable ingredients that didn’t exist in 2000 like Crystal Clear 3.0 and Milliner Cotton. The collection also includes indigo-printed ecru, indigo overdyed with black, aquamarine, smokey blue and “lots of light gray.”
Saitex made its first appearance at Kingpins as a denim mill, bringing its on-trend shades achieved with Smart-Indigo, a system that utilizes an electrochemical-dye bath preparation that emits 90 percent less CO2, consumes 70 percent less energy, and 30 percent less water where the only waste product is oxygen. The mill also highlighted Soulspun, its yarn made with regenerative cotton and organic cotton, and Stelapop, its hard goods company that uses upcycled textile waste to make items like chairs and tabletop accessories.
Naveena Denim Lahore (NDL) followed up its foray into fire retardant and durable Dyneema fabrics with more performance fabrications. The mill introduced DWR, a “creative, no complex-chemistry and sustainable” solution for water repellency. Made with natural fibers, the repellency can sustain up to three home launderings.
Crescent Bahuman Limited reunited with designer Miles Johnson. In his third inspirational capsule collection for the Pakistani mill, Johnson showcased the versatility of denim and the fabric’s ability to take on various aesthetics.
For one direction, Johnson presented distorted woven patterns produced with the traditions of ikat using indigo dyed yarns. The unique patterns were presented in “lightweight, hot weather” silhouettes like shirting and pull-on shorts, however, clients can develop their own unique jacquard designs. Sport was another influence, resulting in a range of slouchy stretch joggers and a 100 percent cotton zip-up jacket with an open weave for a softer, draping look. Johnson also elevated classic items like a carpenter jean with herringbone denim, and a basic ’90s jean made from cotton and hemp with “zero to minimum” wash.
In general, Crescent is seeing interest in washes with “authentic highs and lows,” fabrics with medium stretch and 9 oz. cotton fabrics that have a deceptively heavier appearance. Colors like olive, tan and ecru are on the upswing, serving as a pop of newness for retailers. A rep said brands want “affordable fashion,” or new pieces to put on the shelf to lure customers back into stores. “And while they’re there, the customer may also pick up some basics,” he said.
Jacquards were a standout story for Kilim, too. The mill introduced 75 different designs, spanning distressed jacquard to ones that mimicked the look of wool. Offered in 7 oz. and 8 oz. weights and in rigid and comfort stretch constructions, mills can customize the jacquards with their own patterns.
Kilim also showcased garments with reverse coatings—a technique that allows brands to add a unique print to the interior of jackets or on the inside of jeans. The customizable options were part of the mills’ art-inspired collection that also included leather coatings, tactical ripstop fabrics and linen and hemp blends.
Fabrics with marble effects, antibacterial and water repellant coatings, and a new green-tinted color, Jade Blue, rounded out the Turkish mill’s stories for the season.
As part of its “build to last” theme, Turkish mill Bossa went back to denim’s roots before pure white cotton became the desirable fiber by working with local farmers to engineer tan-hued cotton. The project, said Bossa collaborator Jordan Nodarse, is an example of what can be achieved when the supply chain builds deeper relationships with cotton growers. The colored cotton, undyed and grown 10 kilometers from the spinning mills, has a low carbon output.
Bossa tapped Endrime founder Mohsin Sajid to create a workwear jean made with the colored denim, as well as a jacket made with traceable Marmara hemp.
Sajid printed the indigo jacket in Wabash style, a technique he said was commonly used for workwear from the early 1800s through to the early 1900s for railroad uniforms in the U.S. While traditional Wabash patterns were tiny dots that created a pinstripe, the designer used text printed—”Bossa” and “Endrime”—to create the stripes.
Taking a step away from workwear, Bossa’s Modern Cowboy story offered fabrics with soft hand feels and flat, slubby qualities as well as pops of cauliflower blue, red and railroad stripes.
Color was the muse in US Denim’s collection. From Kelly green and bubblegum pink to washed down purple and red, color permeated the mill’s range of Y2K-inspired fabrics. The mill promoted double-denim concepts and gender-neutral fabrications in both rigid and stretch constructions.
Soorty is looking to elevate its profile in the fashion world. In its Creative Reconnect concept collection, the Pakistani mill addresses consumers’ post-pandemic desires to find happiness and joy through creative designs like denim with lurex threads, embroidery, crystals, textural destruction and more. In Color Me Happy, PFDs, RFDs, ready-to-dye garments, and yarn dyed garments soak up dopamine-inducing hues. Natural dyes add a warm tie-dye effect, while multiple laser applications at different intensities are used to create tonal patterns like camouflage or subtle herringbone.
There’s substance behind the fashion, however. Durability is the backbone of its Longevity collection, a line of fabrics made with “high-quality raw materials” and unique weaves. Soorty’s tests comparing its Longevity fabrics with those woven in similar constructions and weights and found that its offerings are twice as strong. The line is complemented with other efforts to be more sustainable including its stone- and bleach-free Evolve & Econic finishing process which uses only ZDHC-approved chemicals.
Soorty is also ramping up its traceability efforts through a partnership with Haelixa’s DNA marker to trace its recycled cotton.
Traceable recycled cotton was a main story for Artistic Denim Mills, specifically Recover. The Pakistani mill currently includes up to 20 percent Recover fibers in its fabric. It is also seeing interest in hemp fabrics with an imperfect look and linen. The mill introduced 100 percent linen shirting.
Branded fibers added a new look to Panther’s collection. Fabrics made with Tencel Modal fiber with indigo were standouts. The mill offered the long-lasting indigo in slub, twill, dobby, sateen and plain weaves. Matte Tencel was used in stretch and non-stretch constructions, while Tencel Luxe was used to create silk-like shirting in three shades.
Lycra Adaptiv, Lycra CoolMax and Roica V550 were also prominent in Panther’s fabrics geared toward comfort-minded clients.
Siddiqsons’ Dual Cool collection promised comfort and cooling benefits as well. The mill presented the fabric dyed with a range of Archroma colors inspired by the New England autumnal landscape. CiCLO, Tencel and Roica fibers made up Siddiqsons’ Good Nature collection of soft stretch and rigid fabrics, however, the mill also presented Daily Blue, a line of “value oriented” products engineered to be more affordable. Some fabric included recycled cotton, shredded at Siddiqsons’ facility which produces 10,000 tons of recycled cotton a day.
Collaborations helped unite different parts of the denim supply chain.
Italian design consultancy Meidea presented the third edition of The Circle Book featuring circular products and technologies by Tencel, Officina+39, TYH, Tejidos Royo, Ereks, Calik, Crafil, Global Denim and Nexgen Packaging.
The new collection highlighted designs from various creatives inside and outside the denim industry to show different perspectives of circular fashion. Designers included the Meidea team, Ren Collective, Lucia Chain and Anatt Finkler and Vanessa Troice of Global Denim.
The Circle Book also included non-denim fabrics to make a whole wardrobe.
Lenzing brought back its Sustainable Denim Wardrobe to showcase Tencel and its variants. The collection, titled Simple Pleasures, centered on classic pieces made with fabrics from Bossa Denim, Cone Denim, Kaihara, Orta Anadolu and Prosperity. Laundry technology company Jeanologia provided the garment finishing for the collection.
In its sixth iteration, the collection also added work by Brazilian print designer Betina Grosser Martins. Based on surrealism with psychedelic overtones, her print was an ode to simple sources of happiness like a cup of coffee, the feeling of sunshine and fresh bed sheets.
Denim Days Festival
Amsterdam Denim Days took place Oct. 21-22 at De Hallen and Denim City, providing independent brands and retailers a marketplace to showcase their goods to the denim community. Indigo People, Benzak, ReJean Denim and Terra Dyes were among the exhibitors.
Advanced Denim tapped Sadia Rafique, artist and director of Endrime, to live paint a jean jacket made from its new hemp fabric produced with waterless technology. Rafique’s work was inspired by the shape of hemp leaves and the fluid movement of life under the sea.
Local brand Kings of Indigo was selling pieces from its 10th anniversary collection that underscores its role as a pioneer in sustainability. The collection spanned 100 percent organic sweaters and tote bags to selvedge jeans made with 100 percent pre-consumer recycled cotton.
Additionally, Wrangler feted its 75th anniversary with a visual history lesson about its heritage and vintage pieces available for sale.