Denim Sustainability No More a Trend, It’s Now an Obligation

As the Denim Premiere Vision marks its return to a physical format today at Berlin, the big hope kindled is that there will be a strong showcase of sustainable and ecological treatments and articles. texfash.com talks to a cross-section of exhibitors and visitors.

Long Story, Cut Short
  • Global increase of prices of raw materials, water and electricity are the biggest challenges. Local infrastructure changes and logistics are huge challenges that affect the whole supply chain.
  • There are challenges, but realities change from one geography to another. In South Asia, the challenge is about just getting it done; in Europe, it is about how to get things done.
  • Denim PV is the most important showcase in the world of denim and its accessories, such as t-shirts.
The times are difficult (read: Russia-Ukraine war, supply chain bottlenecks, dismal global economic scenario), and demands by end-consumers reflected through buyers/brands (read: traceability, circularity, sustainability) are getting more strident by the day. All players in the denim value chain have to think on their feet and keep evolving at the same time. That’s easier said than done.
The Change Challenge The times are difficult (read: Russia-Ukraine war, supply chain bottlenecks, dismal global economic scenario), and demands by end-consumers reflected through buyers/brands (read: traceability, circularity, sustainability) are getting more strident by the day. All players in the denim value chain have to think on their feet and keep evolving at the same time. That’s easier said than done. Nicola Cordi / Première Vision

Zoom meetings can only go so far in sourcing. After a point those reach a plateau, and then they stop working altogether. That’s true for fashion in general, and just as true for denim.

After the surfeit of digital shows, events have begun in the physical space, and the Denim Premiere Vision (Denim PV), with its two-day Berlin edition which gets under way today (17 May), becomes the one-shop for all things denim. Yet, it’s not the first to mark a physical return—in fact, it comes close on the heels of Kingpins Amsterdam. But then, the flavours are different, as is the mood.

The show in content—Denim PV—promises to make up for lost time. There would be 80+ exhibitors at the show, that would spotlight new features and formats.

The importance of being there

The tone is set by Pakistan’s Rajby Textiles. Says General Manager for R&D and Sustainability, Safdar Shah: “Denim PV, being the first important physical show for us after the pandemic, is really very significant. We are looking forward to meeting all those existing clients as well as new customers who have long been working from home and not able to see us for years. Denim is not just about products; it is about socialising and exchanging ideas to head towards innovations and bring inspirations to real life products.

“We are very much looking forward to exchange what we have got and what other denim gurus are inspired to take trends towards a new direction. Sustainability ideas are going to be one of the most important offerings this time for us where we have got some interesting developments to share with the Denim PV audience.”

It’s ditto for Jesper Andersen, who represents AGI Denim, also from Karachi: “Denim PV means a lot. We need to support these shows to keep the industry alive and have a platform where buyers can meet and see what we all have to offer. We are looking forward to meeting our buyers and customers physically again. We are, of course, also looking forward to presenting our new innovative collection to the buyers/customers. We offer many new innovative and sustainable concepts at Denim PV—from fibres and dyeing to fabric finishing. We have made many new interesting and sustainable collaborations, which gives us complete transparency throughout our supply chain.”

The sustainability factor keeps recurring, both in terms of what companies are offering, as well as what they themselves believe that buyers would be looking out for. Moreover, it’s a subject area not typical of only denim producers or brands. There are others like Barcelona-headquartered Tintes Egara, who have been specialists in dyeing for over 60 years. Its Chief Executive Armand Galobart points out, “Denim PV is the most important showcase in the world of denim and its accessories, such as t-shirts, and it is an easy way to let everyone know that we continue to advance by presenting new proposals, and not just because of trends, since until recently for a short time, sustainability was a trend. Now sustainability is an obligation, since the use of resources, apart from influencing the health of the planet, influences the economic results of companies.”

Nevertheless, you got to be there. Italy’s Ribbontex, which makes ribbons and garment accessories, will be there with a bouquet. Gloria Crivellaro, Export Sales Manager, outlines: “The show gives us the possibility to display and present our items in a cool, cosmopolitan and relaxed place—products that are not only and exclusively dedicated to the world of denim, but are multifaceted and can be reinterpreted over and over again. This is the magic of our accessories. We will present our last new collections and some novelties in terms of ribbons and accessories for the denim.”

The reason to be there at Denim PV is also the way it operates. According to Francesca Polato from Berto Industria Tessile, a Padova-based leader that is over 130 years old, “The fact that every season it is located in a different city permits us to enlarge our relationships with clients and meet more new and existing top-quality brands. We will offer our high-quality denim fabrics collection.”

It (Denim PV) is an easy way to let everyone know that we continue to advance by presenting new proposals, and not just because of trends, since until recently for a short time, sustainability was a trend. Now sustainability is an obligation, since the use of resources, apart from influencing the health of the planet, influences the economic results of companies.

Armand Galobart
Armand Galobart / Chief Executive Officer / Tintes Egara

The changes and the challenges

The times are difficult (read: Russia-Ukraine war, supply chain bottlenecks, dismal global economic scenario), and demands by end-consumers reflected through buyers/brands (read: traceability, circularity, sustainability) are getting more strident by the day. All players in the denim value chain have to think on their feet and keep evolving at the same time. That’s easier said than done.

Pakistan is said to have overtaken China as the biggest denim exporter, but it’s not a walk in the park for manufacturers in that country. Both Rajby and AGI Denim voice similar concerns.

Points out Shah: “The biggest challenges that we have seen emerging during the past year and a little more are the cost of raw materials and freight. The price of cotton, being the major raw material for denim, has increased by almost 65% and freight costs by more than 150%. Those are creating major decision-making hurdles for both fabric and garment businesses.”

Andersen’s contention goes by the same token. He says, “Price increases globally on raw materials, water and electricity are the biggest challenges. Local infrastructure changes and logistics are huge challenges that affect the whole supply chain. We all have to adapt to these challenges that change day by day and try to manage best possible way.”

It would be unfair to make sweeping generalisations, but as things stand: in South Asia, the challenge is about just getting it done; in Europe, it is about how to get things done.

Says Crivellaro, “Companies have to keep up with environmentally responsible practices such as using a micro-irrigation system that can save water usage in the early part of denim’s lifecycle or switch to organic pesticides to minimise the chemical exposure of workers and reduce toxic waste drained into waterbodies. These are the first things that come to my mind, but we could talk for hours.”

For Polato, the challenge lies in the way of doing things: “Denim sourcing has a lot of new and interesting challenges. But the unique one that we want to follow is that of producing every day in a more sustainable way, with the aim to offer our clients a beautiful, qualitative, ‘Made in Italy’, and sustainable denim fabric.”

Galobart is more pointed, as he takes his earlier contention further: “In this edition of Denim PV, we hope to see that manufacturers and suppliers have become convinced of the obligation of sustainability and present us with new proposals for much more sustainable and ecological treatments and articles.”

There is no other way out.

The show gives us the possibility to display and present our items in a cool, cosmopolitan and relaxed place—products that are not only and exclusively dedicated to the world of denim, but are multifaceted and can be reinterpreted over and over again.

Gloria Crivellaro
Gloria Crivellaro / Export Sales Manager / Ribbontex
 
 
  • Dated posted May 17, 2022
  • Last modified May 17, 2022