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Copen United Takes Interior Sustainability to New Heights

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As we settle into the new year, our Sourcing Summit Companion Report looks ahead at ways to optimize processes and performance.

Copen United sees things from an interior perspective—focusing on apparel from the inside out—with “interior design” including pocketing, linings and waistbands. When it comes to sustainability, the company’s interior responsibility also reflects outward, creating a global view and mission.  In fact, Copen’s motto is: Saving the planet… one pocket at a time. However, maybe “one garment at a time” also rings true.

In business for 75 years, the New York City-based company shifted into sustainable materials about seven or eight years ago—starting with pocketing initially and expanding into other products such as linings shortly thereafter. “We started hearing that fiber companies were offering recycled polyester in some of their yarn offerings, and we immediately saw an opportunity to take this into the lining world,” said Jim Lavner, vice president, sales.

Sustainability: interior focus

Copen has increased its focus on sustainability, which is achieved via recycled polyester and blends, natural fiber inputs, efficient production processes with reduced water usage, and more. “Sustainability begins with responsible sourcing,” said Bill Broadway, executive vice president. “With our variety of products, we strive to create products that make our world a better place.”

The Encore Collection, used for both pocketing and lining, initiated Copen’s sustainable mission is divided into four categories: Recycled Polyester, Recycled Polyester from the Ocean (Repreve® Our Ocean™), Recycled Polyester + Organic Cotton; and Recycled Polyester + Recycled Cotton. In 2019, Copen used 80.7 million plastic bottles (approximately 3 bottles equal 1 yard of pocketing), which were turned into 26.9 million yards of pocketing. In addition, more than 110 million pairs of pants currently are made with Encore recycled pocketing every year.

Targeting minimizing water usage, the AQUAFREE pocketing range uses no water in production, featuring a proprietary Vigor yarn in five pocketing qualities. In addition, for every yard/meter sold, Copen donates a portion of the proceeds to the Nature Conservancy Organization.

The Select Series lets clients choose from two collections: OSP: Origin Select Pocketing—a collection of pocketing fabrics produced for brands that need an alternative origin selection; and FSP: Fiber Select Pocketing—a collection of pocketing fabrics with fibers other than cotton, such as polyester, or poly/rayon blends.

CICLO Series: pocketing and lining

No matter how artfully distressed, frayed or torn denim jeans (or tops) are, it’s essential that linings and pockets remain highly durable, without holes, fray and rip-free. Once that garment reaches its end of life, however, getting it to break down becomes paramount. To that end, Copen has taken strides to help its pockets and linings decompose faster in landfills.

‘Made to last’ doesn’t have to mean ‘here forever.’ “Pocketing and lining made with CICLO fibers reduce the persistence of microfiber pollution in the oceans and plastic accumulation in our landfills with accelerated rates of degradation.” CICLO fiber is Eco Passport and Oeko-Tex certified.

Newest in the sustainable mix is the Hemp Series, bringing durability and sustainability in the natural fiber realm. “Hemp is one of the most natural fibers on Earth, used for over 5,000 years in fabric,” Broadway said. Hemp has a natural resistance to bacteria, is breathable with wicking ability, has great color penetration, is easy to process, recycles more than other fibers, is three times stronger than cotton and is one of the most sustainable fibers on Earth. In addition, hemp uses almost no water during growth and very little if any pesticides.

Copen United is a recipient of a “Champion of Sustainability” award given by Unifi, for its dedication and use of Repreve® recycled polyester in Pocketing and lining.

A new era of lining: sustainability and more

Copen lining sustainability

A Copen United printed lining adds an “interior design” quality.

When it comes to linings, Copen offers a broad range of sustainable linings, from dress and suit to more casual styles that adapt to shifting consumer lifestyles. Offerings include basics, novelties and prints, jacquards, mesh for activewear and performance, down-proof linings for outerwear, and more. Copen Performance Fabrics collection offers stretch, breathability, cooling, thermal, wicking, water repellant and now includes antimony-free linings as well as anti-bacterial and anti-microbial options. They also create custom linings for handbag and luggage and offers RFID Blocking for protection.

Another portion of the business is working with brands on custom pocketing and linings, which can feature anything from a brand logo to a signature print, weave or color combination. “As products go more into casualwear, notably casual type jackets and vests, we’re seeing an increase in novelty and print,” said Lavner.

To learn more about Copen United pocketing and linings, click here.

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