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Artistic Milliners Wants to Set a New Industry Standard for Indigo Denim Dyeing

From building the first LEEDS-certified factory in Pakistan to adopting circular economy practices, Artistic Milliners is crystal clear with its intention to help clean up the denim supply chain.

Now, the fully vertical Pakistan-based mill partnered with chemical manufacturer DyStar to develop Crystal Clear, a new indigo dyeing process that uses an organic fixing agent that requires no salt and 70 percent less chemicals. The hydro-free dye process leaves clean and recyclable water effluent without any salt by-products.

In conventional systems, the mill reports that indigo dyestuff is stored after the dyeing process and only about 20 percent can be reused due to salt formation. Crystal Clear, which calls for pre-reduced liquid indigo that requires no additional water or salt, allows indigo recovery up to 100 percent. Additionally, there’s no need for heating in the indigo fixation process, which means less energy consumption.

Artistic Milliners managing director Omer Ahmed believes Crystal Clear is “the most radical change to the indigo dyeing process since its industrialization.” He said DyStar approached mills about three years back to help further the chemistry, but Artistic Milliners was the only one to proceed with development.

The mill presented a small capsule collection of products dyed with Crystal Clear at Kingpins New York last week. The process creates brilliant indigo shades with more sheen, and is applicable to both indigo and sulphur dyeing.

The innovation does come at a price, however. Ahmed notes that there’s a 20 percent upcharge for the organic agent, though he says the price will decrease as more companies adopt the technology.

Crystal Clear will continue to be a work in progress for Artistic Milliners, but the firm believes the process has the potential to become the industry standard, and brands like G-Star RAW are already expressing interest.

“Even though this method is in its infancy we are hopeful that in due time it will be adopted by the denim industry at large as there is an unprecedented environmental [and] water saving potential in using this method,” Ahmed said.