Top 10 Sustainable Denim Brands + Innovations in 2019
2019 was all about driving conversation and creating awareness. 2020 will be the year and decade of action! Here are some of my favorite and most groundbreaking innovations that I learned about in 2019.
Revelation Blue - Prosperity Textiles
This dyeing technology is one of the first of its kind, which uses 72% less water and ZERO aniline dyes. What is aniline anyways though? It's a foundational chemical in the ancient art of creating indigo fabrics. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classified aniline as a Group B2 human carcinogen. There are, of course, safe levels of aniline, but why not go aniline-free just to be safe ;) Revelation Blue is also hydrosulfite-free, giving you a virtually chemical-free fabric.
I had the pleasure of collaborating with Prosperity to test out some aniline free denim and I can definitely confirm that they feel and look great on!
Re:Newcell / Circulose
Re:newcell is a Swedish company that has discovered a way to turn used cotton and viscose into new biodegradable pulp, new fibers, new yarn, new fabrics, and new garments. The process involves textile collection, dissolving the collected textiles into a pulp, removing polyester or contaminants from the pulp, and finally extruding this into new fibers for clothing production. The result is a new material called Circulose.
Recycrom is a full range of pigment dyes made from used textiles and post-industrial waste by Officina+39. Unlike other dyes, Recycrom is applied as a suspension and not as part of a chemical solution. This means it is easily filtered from water - cutting its environmental impact and cost substantially. Something really cool this chemical company is doing are collaborations! Brands can collaborate with Officina+39 to make custom dyes from their own scraps and textile waste. Pretty nifty!!
Photo taken by moi at Kingpins Show Amsterdam
Mud Jeans really tapped into the rental economy with its 12-month leasing program and has started to see some real attention over the past year. How does it work though? Pay a monthly fee to rent your jeans and after 12 months, you can send in your jeans and switch to a new pair if you feel they are worn out or need a change. It's a funny concept to be renting a pair of jeans, but "Lease A Jeans" promotes use over ownership. By leasing jeans, you allow them to be recycled or upcycled, moving us towards a circular economy.
Repair / Reuse
Nudie Jeans has also experimented with the resale market through its "Re-Use" line. Nudie sells reused denim in their Repair Shops around the world supplied by 'trade-ins' from shoppers purchasing their Nudie Jeans. After the jeans are collected, they are cleaned and repaired before hitting the sales floor. I know it sounds like a weird concept and you might be thinking - who would want someone's old jeans? Well, I definitely want them and here's why. First of all, I don't want what everybody else has. Re-Use jeans are all one of a kind with crafty mended looks, giving you the most unique pair of perfectly distressed denim. But, the real thing that gets me is that reusing saves even more resources than recycling does!
Photo taken by me at Nudie Jeans Soho NY
Indigood is a foam dyeing process created by Wrangler, in partnership with Tejidos Royo and Texas Tech University. Indigood claims to use 100% less water, which virtually eliminates wastewater and reduces energy use and waste by more than 60%. The foam is made from a watery solution, which includes a foaming agent and a carrier for the dyestuff. The indigo dye is then transferred to yarns in an oxygen-deprived environment sealed by a nitrogen hood. This is a revolutionary process that has been in development for nearly a decade and is now being rolled out in some of Wrangler’s cheaper products, as well as their higher-end items.
REFIBRA™ is a new fibre that involves upcycling pre-consumer cotton scraps (ex. from garment production), combined with wood pulp to produce new virgin Tencel Lyocell fibres to make fabrics and the clothes on your back. The goal is to introduce post-consumer waste into this closed-loop supply chain, as well.
Jeanologia has created a system in which air is transformed into nanobubbles where water and chemical products can naturally distribute themselves. Think of the bubbles as carriers for chemicals or enzymes, and evenly dropping them onto a garment or material. E-Flow technology can be used for many different finishing effects with a minimal amount of water and zero discharge. Note that the original system was launched by Tonello in 2004 under the name of "Batik", which later was upgraded to the name "Core".
Video take at Soorty's R&D facility NASDA in Corlu, Turkey
Tinctorium is a patented biotechnology that enables a more sustainable indigo production and dyeing process by turning sugar into indigo. Traditional indigo production uses over 100kg of petroleum and contains harsh chemicals like cyanide and formaldehyde. Tinctorium detaches indigo from the oil industry, uses no toxic chemicals and has eliminated the need for water-polluting chemical reducing agents.
Digital clothing is an interesting concept to me, but its proving to be quite popular with Fabricant. Soorty Enterprises made a digital jean collection last year in collaboration with The Fabricant. This concept might help to solve our fast fashion urges by purchasing trendier pieces that only live online and never actually have to be produced. I'm still playing around with this idea, but I think I could get behind it!
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