With denim as one of the top two categories consumers are searching for sustainability, most don't ask the questions of WHY it is sustainable. Creating sustainable jeans means looking at every step in your supply chain. One that goes unnoticed to consumers are the trims on your jeans and how big of an impact they can have.
Most of you have heard about the new technologies brands are using to try to reduce their water, chemical and energy intake, but trim suppliers must also be conscious, as well. Just because it may seem like trims are a tiny part of a jean, they still impact the people producing them and the planet. Let's look at your zipper and buttons first. Have you ever noticed that YKK engraving on your zipper? YKK is one of the largest suppliers for zippers and buttons and have introduced sustainable options due to the demand from its customers. (Side note: This is one example that shows us we as consumers need to demand radical transparency from brands in order for them to want to change.) YKK now has lead and nickel free options available.
Dorlet is another supplier I found at Kingpins Amsterdam who have introduced their Sustainable Wild line and L'atelier Conscious line in their eco-friendly collection. They use an eco-finishing process that requires less water, chemicals and energy. They also utilize wood in their Sustainable Wild line.
Now let's take a look at the booty. Do you see that patch on the back? A lot of denim brands have used leather for back patches, but are looking for more sustainable options like Jacron or pineapple leather. One of the best products I saw at Kingpins was Avery Dennison's soluble labels. This is done with paper made from cellulose and is fully dissolvable in water and has a zero waste impact. Another notable product from Avery is their food waste labels. Avery Dennison utilizes food industry waste to create new fibres. This includes soybean, crushed grape, corn, citrus and algae bloom fibres that are then turned into labels.
Recycled trim are becoming very popular, as well. Triarchy is one utilizing recycled sheet metal buttons and recycled denim patches. It's fun to see how unique and one-of-a-kind the buttons and patches make the same style of jean look. (More information on Triarchy on my Top Brands list).
I was inspired to write this post based on this article from Sourcing Journal. It is important to realize how many touchpoints there are in the supply chain and how easily parts of it can be ignored. Awareness is key and I am so pleased to see the Diligent Denim community growing.
If you would like to read more about the topic, check out Angela's take on Sourcing Journal.