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New ‘Denim Deal’ Takes Center Stage at Amsterdam Denim Days

Amsterdam Denim Days, the annual B2C festival that brings together industry, consumers and denim heads alike, went digital Friday and Saturday with a roster of speakers from London, New York, Milan and its own Dutch backyard. The event offered a global audience a taste of Amsterdam’s denim pride.

The event was buoyed by the buzz mounting from the Denim Deal, a new initiative by public and private organizations to help make the global denim supply chain more sustainable. On Thursday, the City of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Economic Board, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Municipalities of Haarlem and the Zaanstad as well as brands like Mud Jeans, Kings of Indigo, House of Denim and Scotch & Soda committed to the three-year initiative.

Under the Denim Deal, signatories commit to working as quickly as possible towards a standard of using at least 5 percent recycled textile in all denim garments. Scotch & Soda, Mud Jeans and Kuyichi have also pledged to jointly make three million denim garments containing at least 20 percent recycled textiles, and the City of Amsterdam will support this goal by collecting old textiles and ensuring that denim garments are recycled correctly.

Amsterdam Denim Days was an opportunity for several signatories to expand on how they are adopting sustainable practices. Kings of Indigo has been focused on incorporating recycled fabrics into its garments from its start in 2012, however founder Tony Tonnaer said the brand used to downplay its sustainable initiatives so it wouldn’t be considered “granola.”

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“Being organic was hippie; crunchy; not for people who love fashion,” he said during an Amsterdam Day Days panel.

Now, consumer demands have changed significantly and people have come to expect brands to operate sustainably. Tonnaer noted that technology has also caught up with these demands, making denim with recycled elements much more aesthetically pleasing than they once were.

Kings of Indigo fabric supplier Candiani Denim is at the helm of several of these technologies. During an Amsterdam Denim Days panel, Candiani Denim owner Alberto Candiani explained why furthering sustainable innovation begins with making sustainable fashion “cool” with the next generation of consumers.

“We really have to work on communication and marketing in order to explore what’s cool about it,” he said. “The younger generation is actually ready to understand the coolness of sustainability.”

Candiani noted that the company’s Re-Gen denim is an example of a sustainable innovation that customers have received especially well. Created from recycled raw materials as well as Tencel x Refibra Lyocell, the fabric won the ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award in 2019 and is still a top performer.

Also adding a cool-factor to denim is Dutch brand Benzak Denim Developers, which worked with Candiani on its latest proprietary fabric, a super fade denim that, as the name implies, fades more easily than conventional denim. To give the fabric a darker appearance without harmful dyes, it has a weft made of recycled pre-consumer waste, which has a gray hue as opposed to the standard white, and is finished with vegetable-based sizing.

Dutch brands also used the global platform to emphasize how consumers can be more sustainable by repairing their jeans. Dutch Denim Repair founder Edwin van Zoeren discussed how his denim alternation and repair service found synergies with Benzak. Dutch Denim Repair works with vintage machinery similar to those used by Benzak that provides an authentic roping effect at the hem. Dutch Denim Repair now powers the brand’s hemming service.

The concept of repairing denim rather than disposing of it when it becomes damaged is something Menno van Meurs, CEO of Tenue de Nîmes and the retailer’s house brand Tenue Denim, has also always encouraged. His newest campaign, which is set to debut this week, centers on the notion of “buying great things” and cherishing your clothes.

“I want people to love their clothes again,” he said. “If there are only five items you can take in your backpack when your house is on fire, then I want my items to make up at least four items in that backpack.”