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Why Transparency is a Prerequisite to Green Denim Production

Transparency may be seen as a major buzzword throughout the apparel supply chain, but to build “the greenest ecosystem that denim has ever seen,” Crescent Bahuman Limited knows it has to be 100 percent transparent about the materials being woven within its denim products to embody the sustainability principles that have driven the company for nearly three decades.

Zaki Saleemi, vice president of Crescent Bahuman Limited (CBL), understands that for the Pakistan-based manufacturer, maintaining such high standards comes down to knowing where every material comes from, whether it’s the raw materials, the trims or the stitching threads, as well as the chemicals used in the process.

According to Saleemi, CBL has been building its own Sustainability Index for the past “six to eight months,” which is now 70 percent complete. Within the Index, the CBL team is mapping its process, suppliers and supply chains and “weeding out the ones that do not conform to the requirements,” he said.

The transparency endeavors don’t just stop at the Sustainability Index. CBL is partnering with a technical institute in Pakistan that specializes in textiles to develop a “softness index” to further educate its partners on the properties of the jean. This ultimately reduces sampling, improves the carbon footprint and saves time in the manufacturing process.

“You look at a pair of jeans, and then you have a value,” said Saleemi. “You have a value of: How soft is it? How comfortable will it be? Does it have cold properties? Does it have warm properties? Working with one of the premier technical institutes in Pakistan has allowed us to be able to fill some of those gaps. I believe once we put this jigsaw puzzle together there will be no running away from it.”

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While the Covid-19 pandemic caused the industry to struggle throughout 2020, the CBL team saw an opportunity to “go back to basics” by focusing on the Sustainability Index and other green objectives. Although its green ambitions are vast, CBL’s historical preference for value over scale gave it an advantage during the pandemic—the denim manufacturer only works with nine partners, including Levi’s—in that it was not exposed to a large number of customers whose business may have been affected.

Additionally, the company started its digital transformation in April 2020, just after the pandemic shuttered stores worldwide.

In the months after the pandemic struck, the CBL team evaluated eight different 3D software providers before finally selecting one it thought fit its sustainability and product quality initiatives the best.

“Our management thinks that the digital process is directly related to sustainability,” Saleemi said. “[It’s about] being able to measure everything, put it on a computer screen, a chart, have digital displays, being able to design product digitally.”

The denim manufacturer’s sustainable roots come from its inception in 1994, in which the facility was built on marshland that needed to be recovered with the help of newly introduced drainage and irrigation systems and 500,000 eucalyptus trees. Prior to their arrival, the land and neighboring areas were not conducive to farming.

“We went through a process of making a landmass usable, cultivatable and able to build a factory on site,” Saleemi said. “Our journey basically began with a green initiative.”

Click the image above to watch the video and learn more about Crescent Bahuman’s sustainability and circularity initiatives, as well as how it is introducing hemp into its manufacturing ecosystem.