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Sustainable Innovations Guide Spring/Summer 2020 Denim Trends

The futuristic dress code for the year 2020 imagined by sci-fi novels and films may be more spot on than you think.

During Kingpins Amsterdam last week, key players in the denim supply chain presented their concepts for Spring/Summer 2020. While fashion trends will continue to rely heavily on influences from past decades, the composition and development of fabrics are based on future-focused sustainable solutions, efficient technology and dynamic performance.

Jeanologia showcased the capabilities of Laundry 5.Zero—the Spanish firm’s jeans finishing plant that guarantees zero contamination—with a collection of garments that tap into three key fashion trends for the season: denim, vintage-looking denim and corduroy.

The five-prong process eliminates the need for water treatment, manual scraping and grinding, pp spray, pumice stone and bleach.

“We have to make sustainable decisions throughout the process,” said Carme Santacruz, a member of Jeanologia’s Brainbox team.

Oftentimes, she explained, brands try to make their jeans more sustainable by using eco-friendly finishing processes, but the fabrics they’ve selected are not compatible.

“They try to make it something that it is not,” Santacruz said. “But there’s a movement in the total textile industry to envision what we want to achieve and to think about how we can get it in the most sustainable way possible.”

Meanwhile, Orta introduced two light sensitive fabrics optimized for finishing. The goal, according to Orta marketing team leader Gulfem Santo, is to create materials that work with technologies like lasers.

Laser-friendly Light Force is a classic dark pure indigo fabric that allows deeper and sharper laser effects. Scientific Black is a stay black fabrication that reacts to effects in the laundry state in a more efficient way, resulting in clearer fades.

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In some ways, Invista’s new consumer-facing campaign for Lycra, “It’s what’s inside that matters most,” serves as a strong reminder to mills and designers that ingredients count.

At Kingpins, Lycra introduced FreeFit Technology, a fiber innovation that provides easy stretch and lasting shape retention to jeans. “Usually it’s one or the other, but with FreeFit we’re able to fool Mother Nature,” said Jean Hegedus, Invista’s apparel and advanced textiles’ global segment leader for denim.

The technology is achieved with Dual FX yarns treated with a patented process and woven in an open structure. The compressive force of Lycra FreeFit fabric is lower than typical stretch fabrics, which the company said indicates it provides less strain, more freedom to move and a wider fit window. As a result, brands may be able to reduce the number of sizes they produce, and for the end user, garments are easier to put on and more comfortable to wear.

FreeFit can be combined with other Invista technology, including its durability solution Tough Max, and Lycra T400 with EcoMade—a stretch fiber technology made with 50 percent recycled PET and 18 percent plant-based materials.

Lenzing is building on the success of Tencel Lyocell with Refibra, a reclaimed cellulose converted from post-industrial cotton waste.

During Kingpins Transformers, Tricia Carey, director of global business development for Lenzing’s denim market, announced the company will begin to offer Refibra made with 10 percent more post-industrial cotton, increasing the amount of waste recycled from 20 percent to 30 percent.

Lenzing is also expanding the technology into cross-linking versions, which will offer new opportunities for more end-use applications, particularly for knits.

For their part, denim mills are adopting circular habits. Global Denim showcased an expanded line of Eco Loop, a group of sustainable fabrics containing recycled scraps from the mill’s own production and post-consumer waste it buys back.

The mill, which introduced the concept last season with a rigid version, added a stretch variation and two compositions for S/S ’20: a fabric with 25 percent recycled fibers in both the warp and weft, and a fabric with 50 percent recycled fibers in the warp.

And mills are improving existing technologies. Artistic Milliners introduced S3 Zero Growth Technology, the third version of the mill’s low growth, high recovery fabric technology. The new line offers fabrics that can be washed, destroyed and over-dyed without weakening the fabric’s high elasticity and zero-growth properties.

From buzz about transparency, to the popularity of “organic” ingredients, the parallels between the denim and food industries are many. And as Candiani found out, veganism can be added to the list.

Candiani unveiled a vegan version of its water-saving Kitotex technology at Kingpins, called Kitotex Vegetal, made with mushrooms, seaweed and renewable elements found in nature. The move, or “plan B” as Candiani’s marketing manager Mary Katherine Kelley described it, was in response to some gripes about the original version using recycled exoskeleton of shrimp—a food industry byproduct—to achieve its sustainable properties.

The mill also teamed up with fiber producer Roica to develop a proprietary recycled GRS-certified stretch yarn for its line of sustainable premium comfort, stretch and super stretch fabrics. The three varieties are woven together with Candiani’s 88 Warp, which has an authentic signature ring character.

That focus on sustainable components trickles down to branding as well. Italian trims company Metalbottoni expanded its No Impact collection of eco-friendly metal trims for S/S ’20 to include recycled leather labels with a smooth surface, recycled cork labels and recycled jacron labels.

Summed up by Metalbottoni creative director Maria Teresa Ricciardo, “The denim world is moving in a clear direction: that of sustainability.”