Thanks to Sai-tex, Kingpins Transformers was free of charge for all to attend and learn about the new sustainable denim innovations, from technology to brand talks. I will be providing a little recap/my biggest take aways. WARNING this is a long post, but as you can see I learnt a lot :p.
For the full conference click here.
First up we had Adriana from G-Star Raw, head of sustainability, talk about G-Star’s values and how they have been able to create the most sustainable jean ever with a Gold Cradle to Cradle certification. What really stood out to me was their holistic approach to design and their initiative to work with their suppliers to help them be better, as well. They are “designing for the future,” AKA, they are not just designing a product for purchase. They are designing a product with the post-consumer in mind. They have also made the information public to everyone, so other competitor brands and factories can adopt the same practices and innovations. A quick formula for the most sustainable jean ever goes like this: grow organic cotton, use clean indigo dying with no salts and 70% less chemicals (which means all water can be recycled/reused without any sludge in sight, choose washing that doesn’t waste a drop), air dry to save energy, use buttons with recycled materials and no toxic chemicals, and use recycled materials for labels. Lastly, make the final product 98% recyclable. As Adriana put it, “Sustainable innovations are not enough. We need education, collaboration, adaptation, scaling and acceleration,” to ensure all sectors of the denim industry are working towards a clean industry!
A new innovation I learned about was fibre traceability with FIBRETRACE. Danielle Statham wanted to ensure trust throughout a supply chain and has done so by creating fibres that can be traced in real time. With embedded fibre technology, a product can be scanned at any point in its lifecycle for a full report on it’s contents. There are certifications available like the BCI (Better Cotton Initiative), but there are still unknowns. Until now, there has been no real way to concretely prove where your fibres or textiles are coming from, but with FIBRETRACE, we are looking at a total supply chain solution.
Miguel Sanchez from Archroma, went over the issues of concern in denim production whereby every one had a solution. First it starts with your basic material. There are many sustainable options for fabric, but some of the main fibres that should be used are Lyocell, Tencel or bast fibres. As an alternative to synthetic fibres, you have the option of using spider silk or bast fibres here, as well. As for the dyes and chemicals that go into achieving that hue denim lovers fawn over, you can use dyes that are bio synthetic or bio generated. As for colour fastness, acid derivatives (stearic, palmitic), waxes, caster oil, lanolin and natural resins can be used to ensure the dye stays. Next, we have buttons and rivets. No need for zippers ever people. When sourcing or creating buttons, always use safe metals, clever reusing of materials to create new products, or bio materials such as wood. Lastly, washing and application technologies can be done through digital printing, foam application, or in a nitrogen atmosphere.
I was very inspired by the next speaker from Inspectorio. Diego, began his talk by stating that “People are the real innovations”, and people invest in people. That is how Inspectorio came to be. Inspectorio is a digital cloud based supply chain management system that focuses on quality checks and quality control. The business has been ever-expanding and some keywords Diego stated for keeping staying true to your values as your business is growing are: excellence, autonomy, courage, and humbleness. It is amazing to see a business with sound values grow, but it can be hard to make sure those values are being considered when there is so much room for them to be overlooked. Keeping these 4 things in mind will help your business achieve their goals while remaining true to themselves.
In the presentation by Soorty, it amazed me to see that the two major points for water exhaustion in denim production is growing the fibres at number two, and post consumer washing taking the lead at number one. Denim is a common dementor between all cultures, so it is necessary that brands and producers educate the world to care for their denim mindfully. To be honest, I never wash my jeans. I just don’t. Some people think it is gross, but hey I’m not adding to that alarming stat of water exhaustion. There are of course ways in which you can “wash” your jeans without using water, so let me know if you’d like to see blog post on that in the future :)
The last point that really struck me was at the roundtable discussion at the end. It was stated that it is YOUR choice to produce sustainably and not the consumer’s. It starts with suppliers and brands, and it is their job to tell their story. If you would like to hear MY story about why I started a sustainable denim retailer, comment here or on my latest instagram post.
In the meantime, STAY DILIGENT FRIENDS ;)