Comfort, sustainability and fashion headlined Kingpins New York this week at Basketball City. To say one element was more important than the other would minimize the efforts and investments mills are juggling to stay ahead of the pack.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights from semi-annual denim event.
Wearing and shopping for denim should be a stress-free experience.
That’s why Twin Dragon decided to re-packaged its stretch fabrications as No Stress denim. The collection was created for consumers that want the modern-meets-vintage look of 100 percent cotton fabrications with the “aahhh” feeling of stretch as they move throughout the day.
“The fabric doesn’t have tension,” said Bo Dean, Twin Dragon senior vice president of sales and marketing. “There’s no need to fight with your clothes.”
The fabrications have engineered stretch to move with the wearer and mold to their body. The fabric has high recovery, low growth and low shrinkage to provide long lasting quality and retention, and a finish that recreates the soft hand feel of a lived-in jean.
The fabrics are also suitable for looser silhouettes like boyfriend jeans, which Dean says he sees gaining traction in the denim market.
When it comes to sustainability, Dean said brands that once viewed it as a trend are beginning to ask the right questions.
That growing level of interest is leading the mill to reinforce its sustainable initiatives, like using pre-reduced indigo liquid, adopting water- and chemical-reducing finishing processes and ramping up its use of recycled polyester. The mill is moving to 100 percent recycled polyester throughout its entire collection.
S Gene with Repreve continues to gain momentum for Cone Denim. The stretch technology, which was upgraded with the branded recycled polyester fiber in 2017, offers brands a sustainable dual-core stretch product. Sewing thread made with Repreve from Cone’s sister company, American & Efird, is poised to further enhance brands’ eco stories.
This season, Cone Denim also relaunched its Natural Indigo collection. Kara Nicholas, Cone VP of design and marketing, said the mill committed to another full crop of Stony Creek Color’s natural indigo.
Kilim presented recycled, no indigo-dye collection. The fabrics’ color comes from the recycled yarns derived from post-consumer recycled jeans.
Artistic Fabric and Garment Industries introduced Zero Bleach Tech. The special enzyme stone wash allows brands to achieve light-color washes without the use of aggressive bleaching agents. In just 90 minutes, the bright raw color washes down to a pale, clear shade of indigo.
Adriano Goldschmied shared news about a new patented wash process called Wiser Wash. Developed in Los Angeles and used across collections for In the Loop x Congling and Blue Diamond, the process involves washing garments without chemicals or stones and just a small amount of water. The result is a bright wash with clean blue and white contrasts.
For Naveena, design, technology and sustainability go hand-in-hand. Horizon is a combination of the mill’s sustainable solutions, including Ecolean and Aqualter waterless dye, which were developed in partnership with DyStar, and its proprietary H2NO.
Horizon fabrics use up to 80 percent less water, 50 percent less steam and 40 percent less energy, and can improve products E.I.M. score by 40 percent. There are fabric benefits as well, like anti back staining, improved crocking and unique indigo effects.
“If you use Horizon fabrics, you can wash faster and save money in the garment stage,” Berke Aydemire, Naveena manager of technical sales and marketing, said.
Soorty showcased its Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Gold Certified range of fabrics. The collection offers two weights for men with 1 percent stretch, two weights for women with 2 percent stretch, and a shirting fabric. The denim is made using techniques like zero water waste indigo rope dyeing with certified organic cotton.
Ebru Debbag, Soorty executive director and global sales and market, described the development of the C2C Gold Certified fabrics as a lesson in building blocks. The more C2C components that become available, the easier it will become for the industry to become circular and to design responsibly, Debbag explained. The mill plans to add more C2C Gold Certified fabrics as interest picks up.
However, communicating to consumers what it means to be C2C Gold Certified remains a challenge.
Soorty is working to engage consumers with pop-ups in hot spots like London’s Shoreditch neighborhood and in Amsterdam, where it has a showroom. Rather than try to sell fabric, Debbag said the pop-ups allow consumers to touch and discover the elements that go into a sustainable pair of jeans.
Twin Dragon is diversifying its offering by adding a piece dye business based in Nicaragua. The new business speaks to the casual segment where speed-to-market is vital for responding to consumers’ ever-changing needs and tastes. Brands can have core fabrics dyed to order and shipped in a week, Dean said.
In the Loop x Congling experimented with knit constructions and color for Spring/Summer 2020.
A new range of fashion fabrics developed by Adriano Goldschmied for In the Loop x Congling are poised to capture the eye of color-obsessed millennials. A two-way stretch knit fabric serves as the base for premium vinyl coatings. The result is a fabric that has the appearance of plasticized color, but with the comfort and ease of a knit bottom.
Color options span shiny red, green, purple, pink, emerald, blue, black, silver and an edgy, matte black.
The mill is also dabbling in 4-way stretch corduroy with cloud-like hand feels, and 100 percent fabrics made with thin yarns, which Goldschmied said feels like a “fine, luxury T-shirt.”
That luxury hand is carried into Indigo Fresh, a line of indigo and black knits with 360-degree stretch. The fabrics are offered in T-shirt and joggers weights and heavier weights for jeans, with a new diagonal effect for visual and textural interest.
“You can achieve things with a knit that you cannot with a woven,” Goldschmied said. “Comfort is a very important factor in fashion. It connects active wear and sport with denim. It’s a lifestyle today.”
Heritage concepts remain strong for Cone, which touted its Legends collection of archival fabrics. The collection offers two 100 percent cotton variants, and modernizes others with some stretch. Nicholas said the mill is also seeing a strong summer black and gray story.
Bossa also played up its range of black and gray denim with a robust line of heritage-inspired washes and fabrics.
For Deyao Denim, vintage aesthetics were strong. A rep from the mill said the trend has been popular in Europe for some time now, and it’s picking up momentum in the U.S.
“All denim is not 5-pocket jeans,” Naveena’s Aydemir quipped. A Naveena collection called “Today I will adult” offers designers new ways to incorporate denim into their lines with premium looking, blended and coated fabrics that offer easy movement, a luxurious hand feel and surface interest.
Naveena is also trimming the weight of fabrics for voluminous warm-weather garments. The fabrics, which have constructions that are looser and more fluid, come in 7oz. to 9oz. weights. Cone, too, showcased light weight fabrics as trousers, aiming to inspire brands to try something new in jeanswear.
Buzzword to watch
Mills are beginning to explore innovations in biodegradable yarns and fibers. Aydemir indicated that Naveena is investing time and research in the area. By his estimation, the industry will hear more about biodegradable yarns and synthetics in the coming years.
Ebru Ozaydin, senior vice president of sales and marketing of Artistic Milliners, echoed the sentiment. The mill currently sources biodegradable elastane from Roica, which Ozaydin said takes care of the most challenging component to make biodegradable. The mill is now looking at how it can replace other fibers.
“People are asking for better options,” she said.