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New York Denim Days Underscores Denim’s Sustainable Future

The second edition of New York Denim Days this weekend served strong denim style with a side of education about the industry’s progress toward sustainability.

The two-day shopping festival kicked off Saturday with an indoor market at the Metropolitan Pavilion, where brands like Mavi and Hudson customized jean jackets and a denim curiosity shop sold gems like denim-themed jewelry and indigo home goods.

On Sunday, country music star and vintage denim purveyor, Nikki Lane, performed and a denim bazaar spilled onto the street. The day-long event featured vintage dealers, artisans, food trucks and festival games.

The B-2-C event was an opportunity for leaders in the denim supply chain to share their stories with consumers.

Tencel welcomed attendees with a “Tencel forest” in the entry that showcased how Tencel fibers are derived from sustainably harvested trees. The narrative continued with a shop-in-shop that highlighted the soft hand feel and performance attributes the fiber brings to denim with styles from 3×1, Mavi, Edit Denim x Rivet and more. Visitors were also encouraged to take selfies with a tree covered in patchwork Tencel denim.

“Customers were asking us about how we can make trees into denim—the process that’s involved,” said Tricia Carey, director of global business development for denim at Lenzing. “They really liked seeing and touching the raw fiber. Then when customers could feel and even try on denim with Tencel they immediately understood.”

Atelier & Repairs shared its initiative to eliminate the world’s excess. The brand, known for upcycling existing fabrics and garments into something new, challenged students of New York City’s Fashion High School to transform a $5 T-shirt into a garment of their own design. The winner received a mentorship by Atelier & Repairs creator Maurizo Donadi.

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Italian garment finisher Tonello presented denim art by Holly Brown and Juan Manuel Gomez using 100 percent recycled dyes produced by Officia+39.

Madewell promoted its new Eco Collection at New York Denim Days. The six-piece line, made with organic cotton, requires 65 percent fewer chemicals and 75 percent less water than conventional denim fabric.

Artistic Milliners teamed with Los Angeles-based denim brand Rising Sun & Co. for a line of men’s denim and duffle bags exclusive to Denim Days.

The items were made with a recipe of sustainable alternative fibers including Tencel, Repreve and Cordura, and using the mill’s cleanest indigo dyeing technology, Crystal Clear. The hydro-free dye process is designed to leave clean and recyclable water effluent without any salt by-products and uses 70 percent less chemicals.

stuffed toys
Artistic Milliners Angela Velasquez

Artistic Milliners also bowed a collection of stuffed denim sea creatures and nautical-themed pillows to stress the importance of ocean conservation. The toys were made with Crystal Clear technology and were filled with sliver collected from its own facility.

Naveena Denim Mill partnered with Brooklyn-based repurposed denim brand Noorism for a collaboration that targeted both brands’ common focus on reducing denim’s impact on the environment. The collaboration included a Denim Days exclusive collection of trendy bucket hats and New York-themed patchwork jean jackets made with the mill’s sustainable Horizon fabrics.

bucket hats
Naveena x Noorism Angela Velasquez

Horizon fabrics combine eco-friendly dyeing and finishing processes that are designed to use 81 percent less water, 40 percent less energy and 50 percent less steam compared to conventional processes.

Half of the proceeds from the collaboration were donated to Charity:Water, a non-profit organization that brings clean and safe drinking water to developing countries.

“We have always been inspired by the textile world’s ability to connect, inspire, stimulate, create and eventually drive change. We are very excited to collaborate with Noorism for this collection and make a call, together, for an industry change. The fusion of our sustainable fabrics and their repurposing know-how shows that change is possible,” said Aydan Tuzun, Naveena head of global sales and marketing.