If your denim can stretch that’s great, but it’s going to have to do more than that to attract today’s choosy consumer.
Denim on display in the designated Beyond Denim zone at Intertextile Shanghai last week came in all washes and fabrications, but the greater focus was on features that improve denim’s comfort and wearability.
For Chinese denim manufacturer Hebei Xindadong Textile Co., a cotton-based knit-like woven with Lycra dualFX stretch technology was among the maker’s most popular.
“It has good stretch and better recovery. It feels like sweats,” denim department sales manager Mary Han said. “For this item we sell a lot to both the EU and USA.”
Softness has also been in high demand.
In the last two years, Han said, U.S. buyers in particular have taken in more rayon denim for its soft hand feel.
“This year and last year, many customers request super soft,” Han said.
In men’s, it’s stretch for the win. Men’s denim has been heading to the stretchier side for the last couple years, but it’s in such high demand now—with as much as 40 percent stretch—that Hebei hardly had any non-stretch men’s denim on display, and the same was the case for many of the zone’s exhibitors.
Looking to deliver on increasing demand for shorter lead times, the company is investing in its own fabric mill, which is expected to be up and producing by fall or winter 2018, and construction is already underway for a yarn mill that will open this year, bringing the company a step closer to being fully vertical.
At Black Peony, another China based manufacturer, denim is following similar functionality to what’s found in athleisure—a trend that’s expected to have some staying power.
Black Peony denim for the Spring/Summer 2018 season will come made with Invista’s moisture-wicking technical fabric, with Sorbtek’s Catch-Move-Release that’s breathable and quick-drying, and with Cordura fabric to make denim more durable and suitable for tough work. On the eco side of things, there will also be jeans made with recycled polyester in the weft yarn for denim with a smaller footprint.
For Pakistan’s Indigo Textile, it’s all about the blend of innovation and performance—and drawing on activewear elements.
“It’s denim fabrics specifically with athleisure and performance to it,” Indigo general manager for marketing Muhammad Ali said. “It’s authentic looking denim and at the same time it’s with performance.”
The trend toward retro looks and vintage styling have dominated denim for the past couple of years, and that trend will continue into SS18, only the denim will be elevated with added performance traits like moisture-wicking, stretch and softness.
Turning to tougher topics, Ali said the country’s economic situation isn’t impacting the textile sector as much as other reports have suggested, though the fluctuating Pakistani rupee has affected costs and caused greater competition. But that said, Ali’s outlook remains bright.
“The Pakistani market is flourishing. The business is there even though the costs are tough,” he said.