By putting its entire supply chain under a microscope to create a sustainability index earlier this year, Pakistan-based manufacturer Crescent Bahuman Ltd (CBL) is prepared for the industry-wide call for better transparency. Much of that preparation is thanks to the strategic leadership of vice president Zaki Saleemi, who joined the company in June 2020 as the world underwent one of the worst global crises in recent history.
During that time, the company switched gears and decided to focus on larger initiatives such as sustainability and a digital migration. According to Saleemi, the two focus areas are closely related, with digital design being the meeting point. The team evaluated eight different 3-D design software providers before selecting the one that best suited the company. Another sustainable initiative launched under Saleemi’s leadership, CBL’s “softness index” further educates its partners on the properties of its jeans. Like its 3-D sampling initiative, the index will help reduce the need for sampling, lessen its carbon footprint and speed up time-to-market.
The vertically integrated company is the first denim facility in Pakistan to process indigenous, rain-fed hemp fiber that was previously banned by the government. While some remain hesitant to embrace these sorts of industry-disrupting innovations, Saleemi is willing to take calculated risks for the possibility of a brighter future. “Making the first move always poses its risks,” he said. “Everybody sees the value in it, but the adoption is a lot slower than it could be. I believe there is a resistance [among some in the industry], but it’s just a matter of time [before this becomes the norm].”
What is the biggest misconception that consumers have about sustainable denim?
Sustainability is a very dynamic and multi-dimensional term which is gaining more and more popularity amongst consumers. There is still a gap between understanding the true essence and impact of sustainability in terms of its significance in denim. The public usually ascribes to recycled products as sustainable. Whereas sustainability encompasses processes and raw materials especially like use of alternative natural fibers such as hemp, which results in considerable savings of water compared to cotton. Furthermore, manufacturing techniques such as laser, ozone and zero discharge finishes are essential pillars of sustainability. In short, not many understand that traceability, combined with the raw materials used, durability of materials and circularity combine to forge the term sustainability.
What can the denim industry do to ensure a positive post-pandemic rebound?
The denim industry needs to infuse an element of responsibility in the denim offering with traceability being at the center. Consumer education is key to communicating on better buying choices. With blockchain implementation on its way, it is only a matter of time that consumers will be looking for product with specifics that they feel are important to their decision-making.
Skinny jeans: Over or a new staple?
Skinny has a following that I believe is here to stay.
How can denim retail improve?
Denim retail can improve by communicating the improvements to the product with respect to its environmental footprint, which in the last 10 years has significantly improved.
How many pairs of jeans do you own?
Which jeans do you wear the most, and why?
Raw straight fit, comfort stretch selvedge. It has just the right amount of stretch. At 12.5-ounces, it’s not too light or heavy.