Mill are under pressure to fulfill new sustainable demands from brands like Asos, H&M and Target, which have all made varying levels of commitment to sourcing environmentally-friendly raw materials.
Deyao Textile made a pledge in 2016 to include sustainable components in all of its denim by 2020—a goal it has already achieved. At BPD, the Chinese mill showcased fabrics made with at least one eco-friendly ingredient like BCI cotton, lyocell, Repreve or water-reducing dyes from Dystar.
Raymond UCO expanded its collection of sustainably-dyed denim, with options spanning salt-free dyeing and vegetable coatings, to a proprietary water-less dye process. Meghan Langston, the mill’s vice president of sales and marketing, said the sustainable solution has no color limitations.
Along with an expanded range of Tencel fabrics, KG Denim is building up its offering of lightweight 100 percent organic cotton fabrications. KG Denim rep Vinay Shetty described organic cotton as the “new normal,” adding that most customers begin their conversations nowadays with inquiries about sustainable alternatives.
Customers demand sustainability, but most still won’t pay for it.
Rajby senior marketing manager Irfan Aslam Khan said the Karachi, Pakistan-based mill absorbs the cost of the sustainable dye technologies it employs. By using Archroma’s Advance Denim technology and Dystar sulfur dye, Rajby is able to reduce its water use by 80 percent to 85 percent and create less affluent.
“Times are changing,” Khan said, adding that investments in sustainable technology are necessary in order to secure business for the future.
Indigo Textile Ltd. takes a multi-prong approach to sustainability. This season the mill is offering 100 percent recycled fabrications made with recycled cotton and polyester. The mill is also rolling out Orbit, a collection of laser-friendly denim that dyes just the outer core of the yarn. The denim has the same look of denim dyed through to the center, but requires 30 percent less water.
“Sustainability is the future,” Rameez Rizvi, Indigo Textile Ltd. senior marketing manager, said. “The EU brands are all in and it will continue in the U.S. The next generation wants clothing with a purpose.”
Rizvi is motivated by athletic brands like Adidas and Nike, which he said have built engaging sustainable product and storylines to match. He said he would like to see denim step up to their level. “The sport brands are leading and everyone else follows. [Denim] has to be prepared,” he said.
Fashion meets comfort
Color is gaining momentum in denim. Indigo Textile’s new yarn dye project called Phantom creates color denim with unique wash down effects. Rizvi said the technique is also more economical than overdyeing.
Raymond UCO showcased an array of dusty pinks at BPD. While color denim fits in with the current trend for bright fashion, Langston pointed out that it also fills a gap created by an ongoing indigo shortage.
With alternatives to skinny jeans, like boot cut and flare, filtering into women’s fashion, Deyao Textile sees lighter weight fabrications becoming more important. The mill’s B(air) Denim collection feels about 2 oz. lighter than its actual weight.
Softness remains a major selling point, even in rigid fabrications. After a long absence, Kahn said Rajby is betting on rigid and cross hatch to return. The mill is offering rigid with a light and fluffy-like hand feel.
Indigo Textile presented cotton denim with a soft hand. Raymond is playing with new twists and spinning to create softer cotton, too. The mill also introduced a line of overdyed denim with a brushed effect.