As Naveena Denim Limited (NDL) aims to align fashion with function, Zeeshan Ahmed Ch is the man responsible for recognizing top trends and developing innovative products in line with those movements. He leads the Lahore, Pakistan-based denim manufacturer’s R&D team, which is undergoing a concerted effort to double down on product collaborations with brands.
NDL recently teamed with German fashion retailer Tom Tailor to develop a hemp denim collection, with the idea to find the “sweet spot” of hemp-blended fabrics (hemp, recycled cotton and Tencel) used across men’s, women’s and children’s jeans and jackets. While it took NDL and Tom Tailor a year and a half to perfect the indigo and gray fabrics, NDL began its journey years prior when its team traveled to China to learn about the fiber.
A concept collection developed with Lenzing called Bast Recast gave the mill the confidence to push forward with hemp. After debuting the Bast Recast collection, NDL developed its own rope-dyed 100 percent hemp fabric. The experimental fabric is designed to pay homage to the first fabrics that were ever woven, likely with hemp.
Other products led by Ahmed Ch is NDL’s new mechanical stretch denims. The natural stretch fabrics, with 13 percent stretch, have better shrinkage rates than jeans with elastane.
What denim buzzword do you think is overused? And what would you replace it with?
I feel “sustainability” is the most overused buzzword now, as it has become a core requirement with everything we make. Whatever we do, sustainability is the primary factor now. “Eco-conscious” can be the new word as it covers all the aspects of life and the environment.
What do you wish more consumers knew about the jeans they buy?
Brands and vendors both are putting a lot of effort to create low-impact jeans. However, the consumer has no idea how much effort and resources have been consumed to make the jeans. I think awareness is very important for consumers. Eco-consciousness should be the real concern. Consumers usually go for the best fit or shade that suits their body type, which is valid, but we should know how our denim is being made, its composition, and how it will create an impact on the environment.
If you had one request for denim brands, what would that be?
In several studies, it is proven that the wearability of outfits has been reduced by consumers in the last two decades. There are multiple reasons for decreasing wearability. The brands should convey to their customers how many times an outfit can be worn. This can have a positive impact on the environment.
What can other apparel categories learn from the denim industry?
The denim industry has created awareness among people that green practices are essential. The way the denim industry is working on transparency and traceability should be a beacon for other apparel categories.
What was your most recent denim purchase?
I bought a pair of selvage jeans with comfort stretch in a dark indigo shade from Amsterdam.
What is your first denim memory?
I remember as a child my parents used to buy jeans for me, but I didn’t like to wear them as they weren’t comfortable. But now the situation is completely different, without jeans the concept of life is not possible.