Denim Companies Trying to Do Their Bit, But Will That Be Enough?

To be able to source/manufacture earth-friendly denim, communication is key which calls for a need to stay constantly updated. That would sound like a dictum from a management manual—only, things don’t work that way on the ground. So, what do companies do? texfash.com explores.

Long Story, Cut Short
  • Invest in developing fabrics which do create a difference when it comes to sustainability and get top sustainability certificates.
  • Governments can play a vital role in subsidising sustainable garment imports for brands in order to make them even more attractive to end-users.
  • Transparency is a must across the supply chain, digitising of processes to ensure traceability, and reducing the environmental impact.
Recycling techniques are not yet well developed and widespread. More innovation should be done at that level. There is also the need to suggest the best solutions to customers—such as recycled denim, organic denim or zero-water finished denim—in order to put them in front of all the possibilities and guide them to the choice that best suits their brand philosophy.
INNOVATE INNOVATE INNOVATE Recycling techniques are not yet well developed and widespread. More innovation should be done at that level. There is also the need to suggest the best solutions to customers—such as recycled denim, organic denim or zero-water finished denim—in order to put them in front of all the possibilities and guide them to the choice that best suits their brand philosophy. Andy Rumball / Première Vision

If the denim sector has to be in tune with the times, then all stakeholders—from fabric manufacturers to brands—need to work in tandem. To be able to source/manufacture earth-friendly denim, as it were, communication is key which calls for a need to stay constantly updated.

That would sound like a dictum from a management manual—only, things don’t work that way on the ground. So, what do companies do?

Pakistan’s Rajby Textiles has been in the business for almost half a century, and knows what it takes to create earth-friendly denim. Says General Manager (R&D and Sustainability), Safdar Shah: “Our focus on sustainability has been in all possible areas where we have achieved significant success like water-saving finishes, energy-saving techniques, sustainable fibre sourcing, sustainable production process modifications, etc. We have invested heavily in developing fabrics which do create a difference when it comes to sustainability and got top sustainability certificates.

“On a B2B level, we have created illustrations and presentations for buyers to educate them in detail on every aspect where sustainability has been introduced in our product range. From the retail perspective, the best thing would be to assign special segregated areas for all sustainable products in the stores with properly displayed informative materials and product hang tags. Governments can also play a very vital role in subsidising sustainable garment imports for brands in order to make them even more attractive to end-users. If we really want to push sustainability to the masses, we will need to introduce subsidies instead of premiums into the economics.”

For Berto Industria Tessile, the best way to be sustainable in the search for denim fabrics is to use recycled denim. But, there’s a problem. Explains Francesca Polato of Berto’s marketing department: “Recycling techniques are not yet well developed and widespread. More innovation should be done at that level. Of course, we do our best to propose all the best solutions to our customers—such as recycled denim, but also organic denim or zero-water finished denim—in order to put them in front of all the possibilities and guide them to the choice that best suits their brand philosophy.

“To be clear and transparent with clients is our way to keep them informed. Then, in order to arrive at the final consumer, for example, for some seasons now, we give clients the option to put on their garments a woven label to tell the final consumers that the fabric used for that jacket/trousers is ‘Made in Italy’ by Berto (ingredient branding). Moreover, we suggest to our clients what to write on their labels in order to communicate to them the sustainable aspects of the fabric.”

The way one looks at the subject also matters. Jesper Andersen of AGI Denim insists: “Earth-friendly denim is not a need; it is a must, we know. We have to think about every step of the denim lifecycle and reduce all consumption involved in the process. As AGI Denim, with our refresh denim and double zero processes, we are reducing water consumption and reprocessing wastewater. After getting clean water, we are reusing it again. We are trying to use raw materials as sustainably as possible—such as recycled fibres, reprieve, biodegradable PES, hemp, Agraloop, etc.”

Gloria Crivellaro, Export Sales Manager at Ribbontex, believes producing more ethical denim requires full knowledge of the supply chain to ensure that environmental and social practices are respected by all. She says, “Every day I read articles about denim and every day I talk about it with friends, customers and colleagues in order to investigate different point of views and experiences. I always say, ‘I want to know more about it’. The main reason is that I love denim items, and the other great reason is that I want to be aware of its impact on the environment. So, the only way is to stay informed.”

Earth-friendly denim is not a need; it is a must. We have to think about every step of the denim lifecycle and reduce all consumption involved in the process.
ASSESS DENIM LIFECYCLE Earth-friendly denim is not a need; it is a must. It is imperative to think about every step of the denim lifecycle and reduce all consumption involved in the process. Help customers choose the ethical way, and give them an idea of the production processes that aim to recycle and reuse wastes, choosing alternative materials, whether organic and natural or biodegradable. Andy Rumball / Première Vision

One way of ensuring that things are in place is to be demanding. That’s what Barcelona’s Tintes Egara does. Outlines Chief Executive Armand Galobart, “First, we seek the traceability and green certification of all the products that we use in our manufacturing processes. On the other hand, currently sustainability is not an option—it is an obligation since we must consume the minimum amount of water and energy to carry out our processes to be able to go to market with competitive prices. For example, we are dyeing t-shirts with a 1/3 liquor ratio. That means per 1kg 3 litres of water. This is one of many examples that we are using right now in our facilities.”

That—doing what you can in your own way—is also what many like China’s Foison Textile do. The company’s Business Director for the European Union, Fiona de Maat, elaborates: “As a fabric mill, we support earth-friendly manufacturing through continuous increase of our offer with sustainable fibres and research in the most efficient and green production processes. We implement this ‘green’ and efficient operation philosophy in our operations right from the office to the shop floor.”

The bottomline everywhere is the same: get your sustainability bit right. Says Andersen, “Our vision for 2025 is to be known as the most responsible company in the denim industry. That means transparency across our supply chain, digitising our processes to ensure traceability, and reducing our environmental impact. We are adding Industry 4.0 standard garment factories, a denim mill, and a new spinning unit, so that we can protect the planet and improve output. AGI Denim believes in leading the way in creating a more sustainable future for the textiles industry.”

In theory, this would seem perfect: if everyone does his/her bit, then everything would fall in place. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and that admission will keep this subject open.

Giving creative but sustainable and workable suggestions for customers and partners

Carlo Parisatto; CMO, Cadica Group: Today customers—from big fashion brands to new start-ups—are increasingly demanding sustainable solutions and company’s certifications.

Our intention for years has been to make our customers aware of the green trend; we offer them alternative solutions both in terms of materials and production processes. Although our eco collections have been around for years, over time we have had to enrich them with details, certifications and technical data sheets on the composition of materials. Sustainability is no longer a choice, but a necessity, and we have seen this in the strong demand for samples and projects related to this theme. Clients are consequently more informed and updated, so they ask for specifications related to each item.

With the aim of reducing waste, the collection has been reduced both in number of pages and articles. The stylistic line chosen is genderless, in order to have a unique sample collection in the philosophy of less is better, flexible for every type of request. Sustainability is no longer concentrated in a dedicated collection as it was last year, but is inherent in the entire main collection, making it 100% sustainable. We have made ethics the basis of our strategy, no longer a proposal.

The last Cadica denim items presented in the new AW2324 collection have been created with a strong sense of responsibility, with fewer products but richer details and ideas. The whole collection is targeted for unisex and no-gender styles that will reduce waste and samples production.

Mixing natural materials, organic fibres, recycled collections and wastes, our mission is to give creative but sustainable and workable suggestions for our fashion customers and partners. We collaborate with companies that have certified raw materials and innovative solutions; so we aim to work with sustainable partners in all the supply chain for a responsible consumption and production.

The Group has a fully traceable and circular supply chain—that’s why the Cadica collection can be considered 100% circular. Each catalogue has the ethical choice solution with detailed technical information about the companies’ and materials’ certifications.

We have created a special selection of accessories starting from key concepts such as quality, duration and re-use. The ‘Ethical Choice’ aims at a new sustainable vision which protects society and the environment. Clothes, finishing, packaging, fabrics, materials and fibre re-enter the economy after their use, without ever becoming waste.

We have worked with particular attention on the new ethical-choice items: felts coming from the careful recycling of plastic combined with cool screen prints in the total preservation of nature; soluble accessories that disappear in water; elegance and style emerging from bioplastics and biodegradable resins. We have created 100% biodegradable and compostable labels, trying to give them a strong design that can be perfect also for active and tech brands.

Cadica fixed a specific sustainable aim for each SDG of the UN Agenda 2030. We try to suggest to our customers and sector to choose the ethical way, and we give them an idea of the production processes that aim to recycle and reuse their wastes, choosing alternative materials, whether organic and natural or biodegradable.

 
 
  • Dated posted May 20, 2022
  • Last modified May 20, 2022