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Denim PV Report: Smarter Ways to Achieve Better Products

The denim industry’s show season was in full force last week at Denim Premiere Vision in Berlin, where more than 80 exhibitors gathered to showcase Fall/Winter 23-24 collections and their latest sustainable R&D developments.

Following Kingpins Amsterdam in mid-April and Bangladesh Denim Expo May 10-11, some exhibitors said they believed Denim Premiere Vision would fare better with later dates. For many, however, the show was an opportunity to come down from the reunion-like high in Amsterdam four weeks prior and dive deeper into the nuances of collections and new processes.

It was also a chance for the supply chain to mingle with the creative minds behind brands. Companies like upcycled brand Blue Of A Kind, Isko client Jonathan Christopher and Peppino Peppino, the modern workwear line by Simona Testucci and Alessio Berto, owner of The Tailor Pattern Support, shared the floor with mills, laundries and technology providers.

The companies responsible for denim’s bold look as of late were also in attendance.

Family-owned and -run Italian laundry Blue Jeans Lavanderie, which counts piping hot Diesel and other OTB Group brands as clients, presented their chlorine- and potassium-free permanganate approaches to achieve the in-demand 3D effects seen on the F/W 22-23 catwalk. The MSLR-compliant laundry uses Soko’s Lumina solution, a chlorine substitute that allows for better control and more defined ozone finishing.

Exhibitors at Denim Premiere Vision highlighted how sustainable design is engineering smarter and more efficient ways to make denim.
Blue Jeans Lavanderie Angela Velasquez

Alberto Rossi, Blue Jeans Lavanderie general manager, said the high-end market is beginning to shift from the worn-in vintage Levi’s look to bolder contrasts, needle punching and color. The company is also experimenting with updating deadstock from their own showroom with hand-painting, which can be tailored to clients’ wishes.

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Living up to its name, Fashion Art, the Italian product developer that counts Balmain, Chanel and Armani as clients, showed a shift to statement trims.

Swarovski crystals, high-shine hardware and chunky zippers and pulls punctuated pieces with mixed media fabrications, oversized cargo pocketing and double waist constructions. A rep said florescent colors, leather effects and laminated looks are especially popular now.

As designers combine their denim assortments into their main lines, a Fashion Art rep said attention to detail has never been greater. For instance, when Fashion Art applies an all-over laser print to jeans, they deconstruct the stitched jean and lay it flat, so the laser moves seamlessly across the fabric. The same is done for jeans with needle-punched patterns—a trend that dominated the show floor.

Exhibitors at Denim Premiere Vision highlighted how sustainable design is engineering smarter and more efficient ways to make denim.
Fashion Art Angela Velasquez

Perhaps even more meticulous, denim manufacturer Chottani introduced a slow fashion concept that uses carved wood block prints. The company is paying a group of women in Hala, Pakistan to apply the prints to denim by hand, using only natural dyes derived from pomegranate and turmeric. The fabrics are cured after printing to ensure color fastness. CEO Aamir Chottani said that the company is not committing to large quantities, noting that it takes about five to six months to produce 100-150 pieces.

Overdyed prints, hotfix Swarovski crystals, bleach dyed corduroy and hand painted denim—which Fiorucci recently tapped Chottani to produce—are among the other popular requests, he added.

Exhibitors at Denim Premiere Vision highlighted how sustainable design is engineering smarter and more efficient ways to make denim.
Chottani Angela Velasquez

Companies balanced fashion with core denim products.

Recycled cotton and BCI cotton laid the groundwork to Realteks Tekstil’s collection of tried-and-true indigo fabrics. Marbled effects, open-ended constructions, and authentic shirting are some of the key items coming out of the Turkish company’s newly acquired smart factory. Meanwhile, sister company Recott offered PFD and non-denim products with a wide range of stripes, checks, metallics coating and knit constructions that look woven.

Eurotay made its Denim Premiere Vision debut ahead of its looming growth spurt. The Serbian manufacturer currently produces 200,000 garments per month. Thanks to a facility expansion in progress, it aims to reach 500,000 per month in three years, which will make it largest manufacturer in Europe.

No matter how much it produces, Eurotay has a variety of designs on offer. A nostalgic collection offers ’80s- and ’90s-inspired fabrics. A heritage range centers on selvedge denim that can be washed down to look worn in. Novelties span ultra-wide leg silhouettes and twisted seams.

Digital prints were among the most eye-catching designs in SM Denim’s booth but the Karachi, Pakistan-based denim manufacturer has much more in the works, including opening its own spinning mill in 2024. The traceable spinning unit will make the company vertically integrated.

SM Denim’s current collection includes cotton-free fabrics, stay black fabrics and Tencel shirting.

Exhibitors at Denim Premiere Vision highlighted how sustainable design is engineering smarter and more efficient ways to make denim.
SM Denim Angela Velasquez

Mills answered the call for comfort in various ways.

To counter what “the classic denim guys do,” an Indigo Tunel representative said the company is focused on perfecting knit jacquards with various weights, gauges and “different optics.” Highlights include knit button-down shirts that have the smooth appearance of a woven but the lasting comfort and recovery of knit, as well as seamless athleisure and blends with Lurex.

Naveena Denim Limited (NDL) presented mechanical stretch denims. The natural stretch fabrics, with 13 percent stretch, have better shrinkage rates than jeans with elastane.

Square Denim showcased its “ballerina” concept with 85 percent stretch and no growth. The fabric was one of many concepts highlighted for F/W 23-24, including vintage-inspired fabrics, “always raw” finishes and “cactus” denim  made with waterless dyeing.

Smarty pants

Companies also emphasized smarter methods to produce jeans. While sustainability was at the heart of most new collections and technologies, reps emphasized how their companies are working faster and more efficiently.

Indigo Textile presented its zero-waste concept developed in collaboration with U.S. designer Danielle Elsner, who approached the idea from a practical viewpoint: to save money. For the collection, Eisner created three zero-waste patterns for a unisex jacket, jeans and kids’ jeans. By using 100 percent of the fabric for a single pattern, the more precise they could be when they place their order, the less waste (fabric and money) would be left on the cutting room floor. The pieces were made with Indigo Textile’s fabrics constructed from hollow yarns that promote temperature regulation without the use of synthetics.

Exhibitors at Denim Premiere Vision highlighted how sustainable design is engineering smarter and more efficient ways to make denim.
Indigo Textile Angela Velasquez

While Kassim purchases recycled cotton fibers from recycling platform Texloop to help close the loop, the Pakistani company is producing its own indigo solution called Smart Indigo.

Developed with Swiss textile technology provider Sedo, Smart Indigo reduces Kassim’s chemical and water usage through an electrochemical dyeing process and allows the company to bypass the supply chain and delivery issues plaguing all industries. A rep said the company began to transition to Smart Indigo in 2018. When the pandemic slowed production in 2020, however, it provided Kassim the opportunity to adopt it for 100 percent of its production.

Wiser Wash brought its Ozone Tumbler to Denim Premiere Vision for the first time, offering exhibitors a visual tour of the smart details that make the machine both worker and planet friendly. The machine—made specifically to work seamlessly with its patented ozone bleaching Wiser Wash technology—is equipped with artificial intelligence and 40 sensors that essentially learn with the workers, providing an analysis of the laundry process while identifying bottlenecks and creative solutions.

Exhibitors at Denim Premiere Vision highlighted how sustainable design is engineering smarter and more efficient ways to make denim.
Wiser Wash Angela Velasquez

The tumbler also eliminates some of the common hassles workers often encounter on the laundry floor. A prominent LED light around the door of the machine alerts workers when the cycle is finished (green light) and when an error occurred (red light). The filter door is placed on the front for easy access, and the machine, made with a composite shell used in the aviation industry, has no hard corners.

Vav Technology highlighted the efficiencies of its “never ending power” laser machinery. Whereas the intensity of most laser machines begins to degrade after four years and requires expensive canister refills, Oscar Munoz, Vav Technology area sales manager, said Vav’s machinery has self-refilling gas canisters, meaning production never needs to slow down or stop. There’s a constant flow of production.

This efficiency is carried into other machinery developed by Vav, including its robotic arms that can apply PP spray to jeans, meaning workers are not exposed to chemicals.

Evlox showcased fabrics made with organic cotton, recycled fibers and zero polyester. The Spanish denim manufacturer also presented fabrics that require no washing. The unique shade of blue, which especially lends itself to workwear, looks good as it is without intense finishing.

Exhibitors at Denim Premiere Vision highlighted how sustainable design is engineering smarter and more efficient ways to make denim.
Evlox Angela Velasquez

There was no shortage of closed-loop concepts at the show.

Eurotay presented three styles that meet the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign guidelines. The 100 percent cotton, rivet-free jeans are produced with removeable buttons and enzyme washes. The company is exploring cotton alternatives like hemp, lyocell and 100 percent recycled cotton fabrications.

Indigo Textile presented 100 percent recycled fabrics comprised of 99 percent post-industrial recycled cotton and 1 percent recycled elastane. Maintaining the strength of entirely recycled materials remains a challenge, but a rep said it is possible with medium and heavy weight fabrics. The fabrics will be used by H&M for an upcoming Jeans Redesign collection.

In its return to denim trade shows, Turkish denim mill Isko presented its signature fabric franchises like the Isko Reform, known for its high elasticity, and Isko Pop, which has softness mechanically built into the construction, with a circular twist. Over 95 percent of the collection contains a minimum of 50 percent recycled content, underscoring the company’s focus minimizing virgin components.

Keith O’Brien, Isko senior PR manager, said the No. 1 priority is to take what’s relevant for the market and make it better for the planet.

Though some brands are wary of using leather—a rep from Turkish trims supplier Kasiv said most are opting for jacquard patches—the brand made a valid effort to present recycled leather patches. The patches are made of upcycled leather scraps combined with a water-based chemical that bonds the pieces. Kasiv also presented labels made with apple and corn byproducts.

Collaboration is the backbone to many innovations.

Though Indigo Textile will open its own spinning mill in 2025, it is currently working with Sapphire Textile to improve the quality of its fibers embedded with FibreTrace. The traceable technology, which is being used by brands like Reformation, is available in a limited range of Indigo Textile fabrics, but a rep said the company is open to expanding its use at a client’s request. Traceability, he added, needs to be scalable to make an impact.

Rashid Iqbal, Naveena Denim Limited (NDL) executive director, wants 360-degree collaborations between brands, mills and fibers to become the new norm. The mill’s hemp denim collaboration with Tom Tailor is an example of the benefits that come from a team effort. NDL worked with the German brand to find the “sweet spot” of four hemp-blended fabrics (hemp, recycled cotton and Tencel) used across men’s, women’s and children’s jeans and jackets.

Iqbal said it took NDL and Tom Tailor a year and a half to perfect the indigo and gray fabrics, but NDL’s schooling in hemp began years prior when its team traveled to China to learn about the fiber at Kingdom Mills. A concept collection developed with Lenzing called Bast Recast gave the mill the confidence to push forward with hemp.

That level of confidence ultimately led NDL to develop rope-dyed 100 percent hemp fabric. Though pricey for most brands, the experimental fabric pays homage to the first fabrics that were ever woven, likely with hemp, Iqbal said.