I am constantly learning about the different solutions in the denim industry, but it wasn’t until I had a chance to design an eco-friendly denim product that I realized there could be design limitations. I was lucky enough to meet Anatt Finkler, Creative Director at Global Denim, and ask her all about her personal experience designing for a large mill with her passion for responsible manufacturing. So, let’s dive in! I know you are super passionate about producing denim in a more responsible way, so I am curious to know what your biggest obstacle is when pushing new concepts forward?
The biggest obstacles I would say to push new concepts forward are investment and demand. As you know, with every new development a lot of R&D has to come in the mix, and that equals a lot of money spent investing, and a lot of time utilized. When this investment is covered by the demand, then the ability to keep pursuing new concepts is supported; sadly today's demand and adoption of new concepts from brands is a slow and long process, and if they do, the new developments start only as small capsule collections to test the markets.
There is so much innovation out there and sustainable solutions that we would love to implement and myself as a designer would love to see brought to life. But for now its just a ¨pick the right card to play the game¨ strategy, educating ourselves to predict trends that would sustain our new concepts to be able to keep innovating in the future.
What are some examples of the adjustments you have to make to your designs so that the environmental impact is as low as possible?
Here I would like to address the question in a 2 partway. The fabric creation and the garment wash and sew. When we develop a fabric with a lower environmental impact we usually think of the end life it's going to have and the purpose it is going to fulfill. So starting from the very beginning we create new solutions in dyeing and pick and adjust to certain colors that we know will work better with laser or would be laser friendly, which at the end will create a lot of time and energy saving.
On the sewing stage, the design and pattern has to be optimized so it doesn’t create much waste and uses as much of the material as possible.
And on the washing stage ¨Less is more¨, even with sustainable solutions at hand such as ozone and laser, when you design for a low environmental impact, the less you do to the garment the lower the impact, so avoiding coatings and choosing darker colors and a more timeless look will result in a better garment.
It is also important to think of the full life cycle of this design. In the end we will all have to design thinking about circularity (which means there is no end life of a product, just new beginnings) and recyclability. One very good example of this is ¨The Jeans Redesign¨ by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, which states a new set of guidelines to making jeans. One of which as an example is design out of metal rivets or reduce to a minimum, which if you ask me is a great adjustment and compromise as rivets and jeans go hand in hand all the way back from history. Have you found any “sustainable solutions” that are not as sustainable as they are advertised to be?
To answer this question we would need to dig deeper into every ¨sustainable¨ machine and solution ever made and it would be a never-ending story. I don’t want to be calling any names in specific but from my advice, I think it is very important to trace back to the root of everything before we give any claim for granted. This is the only way to avoid things such as greenwashing. The key is to educate ourselves and ask questions; about everything.
**Ani popping in here to say YES YES YES!
What is the first issue in our industry you’d like to see tackled?
Today there is a problem with the definition of Sustainability, and frankly, it is a highly overused word, but this is one of the most important things I would love to see tackled, mastered, and understood. Our industry is in desperate need of being able to communicate properly and educate the final consumer into good buying practices and into the sustainability front. Denim mills create and drive innovation and make advances in sustainability, but if there is not an educated audience that is willing to buy and make a demand for these products, then real change can't happen.
*CUE MIC DROP*
In your panel Across the Border with carved in Blue, you mentioned Global Denim’s new product Circl and Clean Indigo. Would you be able to tell us a little bit more about them?
Of course, more than happy to do so.
Our Clean Indigo is our dyeing program, were we utilize one of the cleanest indigos on the market, which is highly awarded (certifications of the indigo dye include Cradle to cradle, bluesign, ToxFMD, GOTS, and OEKO TEX standard 100) plus its aniline free. This mixed with our Ecolojean, which is our zero water discharge program, provides the perfect combination for eco-friendly dyeing. We are also introducing and working on a new way of dyeing which is sulfate-free.
Circl, is our new eco-friendly collection we are introducing. It is made of a blend of 100% recycled cotton yarn, made in house at our new recycled cotton facility at our Mill from PCW (post-consumer waste) and PIW (post-industrial waste), and Tencel for added strength and softness.
We are offering fabrics both in rigid and with comfort stretch.
Circl includes its natural undyed version showcasing a beautiful faded natural bluish grey, as well as its overdyed and dyed with indigo options. It is truly an amazing product based on Eco-friendliness and sustainability, plus has lots of design capabilities both for the women and men’s market. Thank you Anatt for walking us through the challenges you face designing for a large mill and Global Denim's newest concepts! As Anatt said, mills are innovating such unique concepts, but until we see demand from the consumer, these innovations will sadly go unused.
Knowing there is a market for sustainable solutions is an incentive for mills and manufacturers to continue investing in R&D, so we need to remember that we are all interconnected and have a role to play. The power of one is a phrase I'll always stand by and truly believe in. Individual choices matter, so please never think otherwise!
One of the core concepts here at Simply Suzette is to show you how cool sustainability can actually be. And it is my hope that we all push brands to adopt the innovative technologies/concepts seen on the #DiligentDenim blog.
Are you a conscious consumer? Try sharing some educational posts with the brands you wish were doing more.
Are you a designer? Do you work for a large company that is stuck in its ways? I hope Anatt's experience has encouraged you to keep pushing for new concepts and getting creative by doing more with less. It can be very intimidating to push your ideas forward, but what if no one has tried these concepts before? You could change the course of a billion-dollar company single-handedly... Just some food for thought.
Thanks for tuning in to my conversation with my dear friend Anatt! Until next time friends, STAY DILIGENT!