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.”