It always fascinates me to see a wallet mark so clearly defined or the name of the wearer written on vintage jeans. I think that's one of my favorite things about looking at vintage denim - the details. There are so many little attributes that make a pair so special, like the unique wear patterns, whiskers, and fades, which is why we try so hard to recreate them. And denim players have gotten pretty smart at reducing the amount of water, chemicals and time that goes into achieving those looks. In order to find out how wash technicians concoct their recipes without water or dangerous chemicals, I teamed up with Star Fades International to replicate the perfect vintage wash using their proprietary Clear Vintage technology from a pair we picked out at the Rose Bowl Flea.
From our vintage find, the next step was choosing fabrics that fit the bill. The fabric we chose was a 10% post-consumer waste cotton 90% organic cotton blend using the latest Crystal Clear 3.0 dyeing method that is centered around an organic fixing agent and pre-reduced liquid indigo. This means the process leaves clean and recyclable water effluent without any salt byproducts, and you can recover up to 100% of the indigo used!
Next up was designing the fit and with the help of SFI’s team, we were able to do the whole product development process virtually. After choosing to do a loose bootcut, we used the team’s 3D design skills to mock it up. When designing any product, every small design change means a new physical sample and a small package of samples produces a lot of C02 emissions. Ecotextile News states that "a 1kg parcel sent from Hong Kong to London would generate 4.8 kgs of CO2 based on CO2 calculators." So instead of creating many physical samples that would have needed to be shipped back and forth to then go unused, we only needed one physical sample to perfect the final fit and wash.
But how did we achieve replicating our vintage wash target? After lasering on the whiskers and wear patterns, we used Clear Vintage which produces the look and feel of stonewashed denim, but without all of the water, pumice stones, high temperatures or chemicals. It uses a waterless aging compound backed by ZDHC certifications.
In traditional denim washing, recreating a vintage wash would have meant using potassium permanganate, chlorine and gallons of water. But, SFI’s new technology scores a 13 on the Environmental Impact Measurement rankings which is 69% below a conventional wash. Based on in-house tests, one jean utilizing the Clear Vintage technology uses 14 litres of water versus 60 litres using conventional methods for a whopping 76% reduction. Based on the Environmental Impact Measurement score, it also results in a 30% reduction in energy use, an 85% reduction in chemical impact and a 64% reduction in worker impact.
The outcome? A beautiful vintage wash replica and a perfect fit thanks to 3D design and the SFI power team! ⤵️
Until next time friends, always be curious and STAY DILIGENT 😋