Barriers to sustainability x
F/W 18 Trend Forecast x
Direct-to-Consumer Buzz x
keep the indigo out of the water and
KE E P IT IN T HE D ENIM ECO
WATER IN TUBES EXTRACTED FROM 1 RINSE WASH LAB TEST
SEE OU R E CO-I N IT I AT I V E COL L EC T IO N S TO DAY
PRE-REDUCED LIQUID INDIGO & ECO-FINISH NEW STANDARD
CURRENT EXISTING STANDARD
T W I N D R A G O N M A R K E T I N G . C O M
Celebrating History. Weaving Future.
13/What Makes Amsterdam a Denim City? A look at how the Dutch city became a denim mecca. 14/2016 Us Denim Imports U.S. denim imports dropped for the third consecutive year. 17/Defining artistic One family, three mills. 19/Performance with Purpose Performance denim is giving yoga pants a run for its money. 20/ Why Retailers are the barrier to speed to market Has Zara has set an unattainable standard? 22/Green is the new blue How brands overcome barriers to sustainablility. 25/Chemistry exam Chemical experts want to streamline guidelines. 26/Straight from the source The highs and lows of being a direct-to-consumer brand.
Publisher Edward Hertzman email@example.com Editorial Director Angela Velasquez firstname.lastname@example.org
TABLE OF CONTENTS
10/Visual Storytellers Denimheads name the best accounts to follow on Instagram.
Assistant EditoR Emily Goldman Contributors Tara Donaldson Amy Levertron Lyndsay McGregor Judith Russell Designer Celena Tang Associate Publisher Joel Fertel Director of Business Development Eric Hertzman Hertzman Media Group 545 8th Ave. Suite 530 NY, NY 10018 646.687.3065 www.rivetandjeans.com
30/California dreamin' Amy Leverton talks reviving LAâ€™s denim scene with local denimheads. 32 /Retail revolution New technologies bring retail into a realm of fantasy. 34 /All the Trimmings Inspiring trims that are bound to elevate denim. 38/What they wore Snazzy street style from Bluezone in Munich. 40/One of a kind Customized denim takes on a life of its own. 46/ Kingpins trend report Amy Leverton outlines the major trends for F/W 2018. 56/#Rivetandjeans A snapshot at the best of Rivet on Instagram.
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Visual Storytellers Denim experts reveal their go-to Instagram accounts for discovering new brands, trends and talent. By Emily Goldman
Kelly Harrington @Kellouhar Who and what you follow on Instagram is as revealing as what’s on your bookshelf or on your playlist. The social media platform has become a on-the-go resource to find untapped talent, new “I follow a lot of Japanese and Korean brands as labels and innovations I love the way they style their denim. I love finding unique new brands that push denim boundaries. that have yet to hit the To me denim is not just a pair of jeans,” Harrington said. store floor. “Outside of social media I find inspiration in old movies, street style photography and most of all These four denim vintage. I’m a huge collector of vintage clothing as I love clothes that tell a story and have sentimental aficionados, trend value. I love to travel and seek out new places. I explore flea markets and thrift shops around the forecaster Kelly world to collect one-off vintage finds. My favorite flea market is the Rose Bowl in LA, it’s a treasure Harrington, selftrove of inspirational finds.” proclaimed Swiss jeans Kelly follows: freak Ruedi Karrer, Katy Rutherford of Story Mfg and Artistic Milliner’s Director of Sales and Marketing Ebru Ozaydin, share their favorite Instagram accounts to follow and the other unlikely places they find @Sjyp.kr “I’m obsessed with this brands fun quirky take on denim.” denim inspiration.
@Kapitalglobal “I adore this brand for their unique handcrafted styling with indigo and denim.”
@DenimDudes “I feel like Amy is my long lost denim sister.”
@Off_White “I love the collaboration between Levi’s x Offwhite.”
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Ruedi Karrer @Swissjeansfreak
Katy Rutherford @KatyKatazome
Ebru Ozaydin @ladymacbethista
“Besides Instagram or Superfuture, Facebook and other social media, I get a lot of denim evolution inspiration from people wearing raw denim on the streets, on eBay, second hand stores, flea markets, dump areas and sometimes people who are donating old worn out jeans to the museum,” Karrer said. “And I also love to see the ongoing denim evolution process on my own raw denim gear. I started collecting worn-out raw denim in 1973 as a 14-year-old boy, when two Levi’s pants arrived to our poor family in a cloth donation parcel. Now over 14,000 jeans and denim jackets are in the little Jeansmuseum of heaviest fadings, which is open on request in Zurich.”
“These accounts have a unique take on craft, and a lovely energy and sense of fun. They make me feel like I can jump out of bed in the morning and achieve anything I want to. That’s what inspiration is to me, something that makes me excited and gives me a creative energy buzz, like caffeine,” said Rutherford. “For my brand Story Mfg. [@storymfg] inspiration mostly comes from outside of social media. Travel is what fuels us creatively—exploring new counties and cities, trying new foods, meeting locals and craftspeople, learning about traditional materials and dyes. All these things inform the design decisions we make each season.”
“I’ve been following many Instagram accounts; not only for denim but also inspiration, from art to music, from fashion brands to beauty ones,” said Ozaydin. “[For me] the main inspiration always comes from the street. It is the most organic and real channel. And any form of art plays a vital role; from street art to museum exhibitions, documentaries to film festivals. Anything that touches our lives in different ways.”
Katy follows: @kingyuyiu
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What Makes Amsterdam a Denim City? How a city known for its red-light district transformed itself into an Indigo haven. By Emily Goldman
Most people know Amsterdam for its canals, architecture, and extra-curricular activities. As Alberto Candiani, Candiani co-owner and global manager, described the city, “Amsterdam is the capital of amusements and excitements.” So how did a city without any deep denim roots like the United States or Nîmes, France become Europe’s denim city? To start, brands claimed Amsterdam as their own. Global denim labels G-Star Raw, Scotch & Soda and Denham the Jeanmaker made Amsterdam their home base with footprints as grandiose as G-Star’s OMA-designed headquarters to Denham’s village of boutiques in the city’s Nine Streets shopping district. Meanwhile, established brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger selected Amsterdam as their European hub. Then came the movers and shakers who recognized Amsterdam’s potential to become a major player in the denim market, starting with the House of Denim Foundation established by James Veenhoff and Mariette Hoitink in 2009. Aimed to bring together a pool of forward-thinking, talented designers, experts and international denim players, the foundation set out to launch the Jean School to help provide companies with qualified candidates for the large number of jobs they were bringing to the city. The school opened in 2012 at Denim City, an Amsterdam campus that has since become the nucleus for denim pure players. The supply chain soon followed. With much acclaim, Kingpins brought its textile show to Amsterdam’s Westerfabriek Park in 2014, setting a new standard of commerce, networking and excitement in the trade show circuit. The industry event became the anchor to Amsterdam Denim Days, a business-to-consumer festival that touches all aspects of denim, from mill to retail.
Bitten by the Dutch denim bug, mills like Candiani, Soorty and Vicunha Textile have since opened satellite showrooms and development centers in the city. “Almost 10 percent of all denim industry has their main seats in Amsterdam,” said Ugur Yilmaz, Blue Lab Amsterdam director. The laundry center located in Denim City, complete with washing machines, dryers, ozone, laser, scraping and spraying units, is powered by a consortium of denim industry leaders with the goal to develop cleaner processes for the denim industry. “More than five years ago, when we started to think about Blue Lab, we were looking for the most suitable location. Amsterdam was number one on our shortlist. After our long meetings with the city of Amsterdam and the Mayor Eberhard Van Der Laan, we were more than sure that this is the right address [for us,]” said Yilmaz. “Our desire to make Amsterdam the denim capital was recognized by the city. It gave us a big strength and ambition to go some steps further. Now, our aim is to connect the denim world and share our know-how in terms of smarter ways of making jeans.” In some ways, Amsterdam’s emergence as a hub for denim innovation is the result of playing up to its strengths. With sustainable infrastructures like solar panels and wind turbines, not to mention Amsterdam’s preferences for bicycles over cars, the House of Denim Foundation believed it was necessary to set out to make the industry dryer, cleaner and smarter, or towards a “brighter blue”. “In 2010 we realized Amsterdam was doing well, jeans-wise. Cool brands were here, cool teams making cool stuff and doing amazing business. But we also registered that the business is dirty, second only to petrochemical in terms of impact. And due to the fragmented value chain, no collaboration, or standards,” said James Veenhoff,
founder of the House of Denim Foundation. Veenhoff does not believe in competing for the title of ‘Denim City’ and says House of Denim’s mission is to help brands be more sustainable so that the industry has a better impact and future. “So, any region or brand that wants to join is welcome—in that sense, Amsterdam is just a state of mind.” Recently the city has become home to many design and research centers and showrooms, including Pakistan-based Soorty. Amsterdam edged out other cities to become the mill’s European hub for its proximity to other cities as well as being a source of inspiration. “The Dutch are known to be denim enthusiasts by nature with having an above average pair of denim in their closet,” said Mansoor Bilal, Soorty senior manager of marketing and product development. “Yes, it is a creative city. Its culture is enriched with famous artists like Van Gogh and Rembrandt.” Italian denim mill Candiani keeps a showroom in Amsterdam. “We believe Amsterdam is the most relevant city in Europe when it comes to denim culture,” said Alberto Candiani. “This is generated by the numerous brands operating in the city, the stores and the public interest.” Veenhoff gives credit to locals for making the global denim industry feel at home. “Life here is good and the vibe is so international at Denim City,” he said. “Twice a year the Kingpins trade show brings in the entire industry, the vibe is great on those days: everyone really feels hope and makes international friends—I’ve been to hundreds of shows in my time but I’ve never actually made friends there really. I feel that in Amsterdam people are making personal connections.”
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2016 US DENIM IMPORTS CHINA REMAINS TOP COUNTRY OF ORIGIN, but BANGladesh GRABBED the BIGGEST PIECE OF U.S. MARKET. By Judith Russell
U.S. denim imports dropped for the third consecutive year in 2016, according to data from the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA). Total imports in the category were $3.5 billion, down 5.5% from the same period in 2015, and 14.1% below 2013 imports of $4.1 billion. Unit imports of denim dropped by 4.4% in 2016, while the average cost per garment declined by 1.2%, to $7.71 per pair. Although China held its share of total denim imports at 26.5%, number two trading partner Mexico lost 1.2 percentage points of share, down to 24.4%. Bangladesh gained the most share of any trading partner, picking up 1.4 percentage points, to 13.1% of the total. Vietnam gained 0.7 percentage points of U.S denim market share. Pakistan, Cambodia and Nicaragua also gained share, while Egypt, Indonesia and Lesotho lost. More than 98 percent of total denim apparel imports last year were jeans. Men’s and boys’ represents the largest segment, at 53 percent of the total on a dollar basis, up slightly from the prior year, while women’s and girls’ fell slightly to 45.4% percent of the total. Denim jackets, skirts, dresses and other garments represent approximately 1.5% of total denim imports. In 2016, imports of denim jackets increased by 35 percent, but remain an extremely small portion of total denim imports.
US Denim Apparel Import Share Shifts BY TOp Country
Denim Apparel Imports By Country (Dollar Volume)
DENIM Apparel Imports by Country of Origin
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FY 2016 vs 2015
US Denim Apparel Imports FY 2012 - 2016
Both men’s and women’s jean imports each dropped by about 6 percent in the period, with women’s down by slightly more than men’s on a dollar percentage basis. However, men’s and boy’s jeans suffered only a 2 percent drop in units, compared to a 7.5% fall in units for women’s and girls’ jeans. The average cost of a pair of women’s and girls’ imported jeans increased by 1.7%, but fell for men’s and boy’s jeans by almost 4 percent. China exported a total of $937 million in denim to the U.S. last year, down 7 percent from the prior year. Unit imports from China dropped by more than 10 percent, resulting in an average cost per garment increase of 3.7%, to $7.61. The 1.8% increase in the total value of men’s and boys’ jean imports from China was more than offset by a more than 11 percent drop in women’s and girls’ jeans. U.S. brands imported $862 million worth of jeanswear from Mexico in 2016, 10.1% less than in 2015. Total units from Mexico fell by 3.8%, with the average cost per pair down by 6.5% to $8.13. Men’s jeans comprised 88 percent of U.S. denim imports from Mexico, and were responsible for most of the decline from that country as well. Imports from Bangladesh, the U.S.’s thirdlargest source of denim apparel, increased by 5.4% to $463 million, with most of the gains in women’s. Units were up 12 percent and average cost down by 6 percent. Women’s jeans comprised 80 percent of the denim imports from Bangladesh, a major supplier to many of the fast fashion retailers. The average cost of a pair of women’s and girls’ jeans from Bangladesh dropped by more than 7 percent in 2016. The biggest percentage increase was enjoyed by Vietnam, whose denim exports to the U.S. increased by 10 percent in 2016, to $172.5 billion. Women’s jean imports from Vietnam rose by 9.6%, to $116 million. Egypt, the fourth largest source of U.S. denim imports, suffered a significant drop, with its shipments in the category falling by 17.4% to $80 million, affecting both men’s and women’s categories.
Denim Apparel Imports By category FY 2016
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Defining Artistic Despite similar names, these three pakistan-based mills are anything but the same. BY Emily Goldman
In the denim industry, the name “artistic” holds a lot of clout and confusion. Mills with a common name—Artistic Fabric Mills and Garment Industries (AFGI), Artistic Denim Mills Ltd. (ADM) and Artistic Milliners—are often a stone throw away from one another at trade events. Adding to the confusion, members of one family own the Pakistan-based mills, yet each is run as a separate entity. The family business began in the 1940s when Ahmed Omer moved from India to Pakistan shortly after the partition of the two countries in 1947. “He was always interested in the clothing business as he knew the cotton-rich region had a lot of potential for textiles, but with a young family and modest savings he could not afford to set up his own factories at the time so he took another route,” said Hasan Javed, AFGI executive director, of his pioneering grandfather. The other route turned out to be opening a shop selling antiques and novel textiles in Karachi, Pakistan. Sometime around 1949, Javed said his grandfather designed and handmade a hat for an English sailor and presented it to him. As the story goes, the sailor was impressed and told Omer he was an “artistic craftsman.” “My grandfather felt the word ‘artistic’ had a nice ring to it and hence he named his company the same,” Javed said. Per Jack Mathews, ADM director of sales and marketing, Omer began with home textiles, before
moving into the garment industry in 1967. Omer’s business began to flourish in the 1970s and 1980s after his sons joined him and helped expand the family business. “In the 1990s my father, Javed Ahmed [one of Omer’s sons], visited Hong Kong and Japan to buy machinery and had the opportunity to visit one of the denim plants there,” Javed said. “He was intrigued by the entire process and was very excited to pitch the idea of setting up their own Artistic mill to his five brothers upon his return.” Ahmed’s plan went awry and the sons would eventually create their own mills with the Artistic name after a mysterious falling out. Javed Ahmed launched AFGI. Ahmed Umer opened ADM and Yaqoob Ahmed established Artistic Milliners. “For almost 70 years now, the name Artistic has carried a lot of weight and goodwill in Pakistan and the international market, which is the reason even after a process of corporate restructuring in 2006, the companies decided not to completely part with the name,” Javed said. Each mill has worked to carve its own identity through innovative products and specialties. ADM began denim production in 1993 and was the first to integrate rope dyeing. The mill has since become a pioneer in adapting new fibers like Lycra dualFX and ProModal to enhance their denim’s performance attributes.
Boasting state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, AFGI offers a fully vertical operation with the capacity to produce 25 million garments per year. The mill makes strides in sustainability, earning LEED Gold certification for its Karachi, Pakistan factory. Proficient in running a range of fiber blends, Artistic Milliners’ weaving facility is fully equipped for different fabric ranges from 5 oz. to 15 oz. The mill’s research and innovation center in Dubai also offers opportunities for their customers to stay ahead of the market, interpreting upcoming trends and innovations. Difference aside, the mills agree that improving their home country of Pakistan is engrained in the fiber of their company. “Empowering our workforce and giving back to the communities that have served us has also been a very important lesson that has been passed down from one generation to the next,” said Javed. “We built the plant in Pakistan because that is our home,” Mathews added. “We wanted to create a business that could provide significant employment opportunities for our people and leverage the assets Pakistan has which has allowed it to become a dominant global force in textiles and apparel.”
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Performance With purpose Are yoga pants Finally over? A look at how performance denim Meets consumer need for Comfort and style. By Judith Russell
The consumer love affair with athleisure sealed the fortunes of Lululemon, Sweaty Betty and other gym-to-street brands, but no doubt caused significant hand-wringing at companies like True Religion and Lee Jeans. However, there are indications that people now have enough leggings and track pants in their closet and have finally started to restock their denim wardrobes again. Leslie J. Ghize, executive vice president at the TOBE Consumer Culture + Creative Think Tank, says the renewed interest in denim started with “a few hero pieces, style definers, that have brought denim back into the crosshairs for the consumer.” She cites the cut-off jean with frayed edges, first seen at Vêtements and now in just about every branded denim line, as holding extra appeal because customers can alter it themselves. “Everyone looks good in it. It can be worn with other heroes—Gucci fur-lined slipper, high heel sexy sandal, close hugging ankle boot, sneaker. Add the ubiquitous bomber jacket and a great statement earring…good to go.” And, as the term ‘athleisure’ has given way to the more permanent-sounding phrase ‘active lifestyle,’ we are finally seeing performance denim—once limited to niches like skate and workwear—move into the premium space. Denim with a technical twist from brands like Dish and DU/ER, Diesel, and G-Star Raw are being snatched up by consumers who want the same multitasking capabilities from apparel that they expect from the other products they buy. “People are realizing they shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. With new fabric innovations, clothes that you want to be seen in feel like clothes you want to wear,” said Robin Rowley, Dish and DU/ER marketing director. Rowley sees two clear trends taking hold: one is to have more stretch and other performance features in traditional styling and the other is to have a more traditional heritage look. “Versatility is also always key, people want denim they can wear to do more in,” Rowely said. TOBE’s Ghize has also noticed a shift from true active as streetwear to a more elevated streetwearinspired design aesthetic as a tool for consumer to make a statement, with brands like Supreme, OffWhite, Gosha Rubchinskiy and others taking streetwear, whose origins were in skate culture and
hip-hop, to a new level. “Wearing active and sportinspired pieces becomes more of a self-expression game than an I-put-on-my-workout-clothes-andnever-worked-out play. Thus, with customers comfortable being comfortable, they can maintain the comfort factor but up their style game, look more polished,” she said. Tricia Carey, director of global business development for denim at Lenzing Fibers, also sees the end of the yoga pant as streetwear. “We are seeing the pendulum swing towards more refined dressing while still incorporating comfort and performance.There are more styles with denim dressing in shirts and dresses this season and cleaner looks in denim.” Lorena Bott, cool hunter at Brazil-based global denim producer Vicunha Têxtil, said “People are calling for garments with versatility, styles that can be worn from day through to the evening, adaptable to both casual and formalwear. When you have a product that is highly fashionable and at the same time keeps you dry, for example, you can be confident to go to a night out straight from the office.” Consumers are not about to give up the comfort they got accustomed to during the athleisure years, so fabric producers have been hard at work developing the next generation of denim and other bottom weight fabrics that deliver the comfort, performance and utility of activewear with the more tailored, constructed silhouette of 5-pocket pants. The result? Some of the most revolutionary fabric innovations that this sector has seen since Lycra became de rigueur several decades ago, inspired by the consumer need for garments to do more than just look and feel good. Thomas Dislich, Vicunha Europe managing director, said “For a while we have observed the growing importance of performance fabrics in the marketplace. Right now, high performance denim is very much in demand and is a large part of our fabric offering.” The company produces a wide range of fabrics that offer performance features like excellent stretch/recovery and temperature control. U.S.-based Cone Mill has worked for several years now through its Cone 3D incubator with denim brands seeking innovative and unique performance solutions. Its broad collection of fabrics features yarns ranging from Coolmax by Invista to Unifi’s Sorbtek to Dyneema, a high-
molecular-weight-polyethylene by DSM. Going forward, denim fans can expect to see more technical blends, such as cotton with premium performance fiber Cordura and others made of Nylon 6.6. Pierluigi Berardi, global marketing director at Nylon 6.6 producer NILIT Fibers, commented that “People and lifestyles are changing, and consumers are now looking at denim and other ready-to-wear categories through an activewear lens. They are inspired by new technologies and applications offered by smart fibers, and they want the garments they wear all day, every day to do more.” NILIT is partnering with several mills to develop performance denim and bottom weight fabrics containing its cooling Breeze, warming Heat, moisture-wicking Aquarius and energizing Innergy yarns—products that deliver the performance benefits of cutting-edge activewear. Outlier, a Brooklyn-based apparel brand founded in 2008, set out to make innovative and good-looking clothing to improve the way you move through this world. The company’s philosophy is that clothing should be liberating, and never restrict what you do with your day. “Performance fabrics have always been the future of everyday wear. Denim was a performance fabric, a tent cloth made into pants. We see fabrics getting cleaner, drier and more durable. More than anything, though, it’s the new combinations of natural and synthetics that are super-exciting: linen meets polyester; wool meets nylon; cotton meets Dyneema,” said Outlier co-founder Abe Burmeister. “The best stuff combines the character and feel of evolved fibers with the precision and strength of the man-made.” Lenzing’s Carey feels performance denim is here to stay. “Life is not slowing down and the consumer wants more versatility in apparel, which is not going away.”
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Why Retailers are the Barrier to Speed to Market A look at why Zara's speed to market concept will not work for most companies. By Tara Donaldson
The biggest problem with brands getting goods to market faster is the brands themselves. Sure, increasing efficiency, digitizing the supply chain and moving manufacturing closer to consumer markets helps, but many brands don’t realize their own corporate culture is what’s keeping them back. The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” doesn’t apply to retail today, because it is broken. Online has put a wrench in things, consumers are changing their behavior and immediacy is king. Brands are being faced with demand for goods closer to season and straight from the runway into stores—and many really can’t keep up. The fix most retailers seem to fancy is “be like Zara,” which has nailed the speed to market concept by producing closer to home, keeping things lean and empowering the right employees to make speedier decisions, eliminating the excessive and unnecessary delays bureaucracy can cause. Unfortunately for brands that aren’t Zara, mimicry likely won’t work.
what’s selling well and what isn’t, and to make quick decisions about what to make more of and what to ditch. That also means Zara can sell much more of its goods at full-price, not sharing in the markdown misery so many retailers are reeling from in this overly promotional market. What’s best about the whole model is that no retailer has yet been able to copy it. “It’s not a mathematical equation, it’s a culture,” said Robert Sinclair, COO of Li & Fung’s sourcing business. “I’m not going to move to France and by being there, become more French than the French.” Whether someone spends 20 years living in France, or 50, soaking up the culture, learning about the customs, doing what the French do, they will still never become French. No matter how close they may get. It’s the same way a retailer can’t become Zara. “Based on what I understand about Zara, it’s a mindset, it’s a culture, it’s a way that organization has taken on a life of its own that’s near impossible for anybody to mimic,” Sinclair said. “They don’t seem to be worried about other companies doing Why brands that aren't Zara will never be Zara what they do because cultures are very difficult to Inditex, the Spanish parent company of Zara, is mimic or copy.” more than a retailer—it’s a digital company. Zara’s model is also one of inventory avoidance. For one, their points of sale at retail around They don’t keep excess stock of product, they the world are all connected, meaning they have make some, send it to market, see how it does access to data in real time that allows them to see and react accordingly. They keep fabric on hand RIVETANDJEANS.COM / APRIL 2017 / 22
that they know they can use and turn to when they want to cut into something and get it to stores quickly. While that model may sound ideal for today’s market, brands and retailers need to learn to take the best elements and adapt it to their own companies. “Defending, chasing, imitating or duplicating Zara is not a strategy,” said John Thorbeck, chairman of Chainge Capital and conveyor of the Zara Gap concept that shows how much of a lead Zara has on the rest of the market and why. “This is simply reactive management, letting a new competitor define your actions. It is like saying, ‘We’re going to do what we do, only faster.’” What is it that brands don't get about speed to market? Zara has turned itself into more than just a supply chain, and while the company’s identical model can’t be copied, Zara can still be a source of learning if retailers can fit the supply flexibility takeaways to their own distinct strategies. “I think they treat it like an operational issue, delegated to the supply chain team,” Thorbeck said of how retailers approach speed to market. “In fact, the challenge is speed of decisionmaking and how inventory risk is shared across the enterprise and partners. That is a different way to do business, and cannot be solved by a
functional approach to change.” Etailers need to learn to empower the right people in their organizations to make the kinds of quick calls that can get the right product in front of the right consumer faster, without going through 17 different approval process and getting the product to stores just in time to mark it down. “Zara doesn’t check the checker,” Sinclair said, adding that reports and research on Zara indicate the reason for that is trust. If someone at Zara tells someone else to order an item in green, they trust that the person orders that item in green and they move on. That people empowerment means a reduction of process triplication, also known as saving time. “Trust is economically extremely efficient,” Sinclair said. “Each needs to decide who does what, share the info and trust each other. You empower people to make decisions on your behalf.” Some brands think the problem is just that their models aren’t lean enough or efficient enough or cheap enough to compete with fast fashion, and that they have to do markdowns because that’s the nature of this promotional market. What many are missing, however, is the fact that their product just isn’t relevant. Zara is able to sell more of its merchandise at full-price for two major reasons: it has trained its shopper to buy on the spot because the goods may not be there later, and the stores simply have
product the consumer really wants to buy. “Relevant product is what’s missing,” Sinclair said. “If you’ve got relevant product that consumers want, then it doesn’t necessarily have to be cheap or the cheapest.” What brands and retailers should do instead of copying Zara Since copying Zara isn’t a strategy, what is it that brands can do to hit the levels of efficiency and success that the Spanish retailer has achieved? According to Thorbeck, “I think they should be careful to define their opportunity as management of risk, and reduction of inventory uncertainty. These goals are achievable, but may get lost in all the talk about fast fashion, as if it had a standard definition. It does not.” Disruptive innovation has almost gotten lost in the fray of buzzwords and PR phrases, and companies are confusing being creative with being disruptive, Thorbeck explained. “Retailers are investing in countless apps and collaborations to re-define the customer experience and the results are dismal, with rare exception,” he said. “U.S. retailers have too many stores, too much inventory and too much risk. That seasonal model built on price, promotion and volume is not working.”
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Green is the New Blue European denim brands refuse to sacrifice sustainability for style, while U.S. labels are lagging. By Lyndsay McGregor
Once upon a time, no one did denim like the “Big Three” American brands Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler. Indeed, denim collectors are so eager to own a pair of perfectly broken-in blue jeans that vintage 501s from the ‘50s have been known to sell for as much as $8,000 on eBay. But while high- and low-end stores alike are stocked today with faded, frayed, distressed and ripped jean styles, the cost of recreating that lived-in look for less is a lot higher than their price tags reveal. Try these stats on for size: The average pair of jeans requires more than 2,500 gallons of water to produce, from cotton field to factory to consumer. That’s the same as flushing the toilet nearly 400 times. In addition, the denim finishing process can involve double-digit dyeing vats, several chemicalintensive washes and massive amounts of energy. Now consider that two billion pairs of jeans are produced worldwide every year, mainly in Asia, and it’s difficult to deny that the denim industry is wreaking havoc on planet Earth. But let’s not forget the damage that denim can also do to factory workers. A 2010 University of Vermont report on Levi Strauss & Co. found that the cheapest synthetic indigo dyes on the market are sulfur-based, presenting a threat to both human health and the environment. Additional chemicals used in denim production include sodium hydroxide (highly corrosive), sodium hydrosulfite (causes water pollution), benzidine (linked to bladder cancer) and formaldehyde (a known human carcinogen). Sandblasting, a cheap and quick technique used to make distressed denim, also puts workers at risk for silicosis, a lung disease caused by breathing in bits of silica dust. A few big names have started to take steps in the right direction. Levi’s recently open-sourced its water-saving Water<Less process, G-Star has incorporated oceanic plastic waste into its collection and many major brands have banned RIVETANDJEANS.COM / APRIL 2017 / 24
sandblasting from their supply chains. But it’s smaller labels that are leading the way—and somewhat unsurprisingly, they’re mainly out of Europe. In fact, when ethical fashion organization Project Just released its guide of Just Approved denim brands last year, Patagonia was the only U.S. brand that made the top four. The others: Kings of Indigo and Mud Jeans, both from the Netherlands, and Nudie Jeans of Sweden. “Europe is currently leading sustainable fashion developments,” confirmed Soo-Rae Hong, who founded Seattle-based Source Denim with a mission to eliminate harmful chemicals from the dyeing process. “When I look for solutions and brands that are working to make a more positive impact on the environmental, social and labor practices of our clothing, I look to companies in the UK, Sweden, Denmark and France.” Even European fast-fashion brands H&M and Zara—both largely to blame for creating the current culture of cheap, disposable clothing— have started to clean up their acts. H&M launched a worldwide garment-collecting initiative in 2013, urging customers to recycle their unwanted clothes to help create a closed loop for fashion. It also produces Conscious, a clothing collection made from sustainable materials. Meanwhile, Zara launched a sustainable line called Join Life last September that’s less trend-driven than the rest of its offering and made using Tencel, recycled wool and organic cotton. So what’s holding U.S. brands back from adopting more sustainable business practices? Cost is often the culprit: working with environmentally-friendly fabrics, low-impact dyes and washes and socially responsible factories tends to be more expensive than the alternative. Or so they say. “But the reality is that all along the supply chain there are companies finding ways to grow
their sustainability, reduce their environmental and social impact and offer ever-better options to brands and retailers—and not impacting price in any significant way,” said Andrew Olah, chief executive of Olah Inc. and founder of the Kingpins shows. “The biggest barrier preventing brands from becoming more sustainable is ignorance of what their options are, what the latest developments are and how to implement them. Or the true will to do it.” Lucy Robinson, social media manager for ethical British brand Monkee Genes, noted that while the move to sustainability does take time and money, the decision should be based on what’s right. Quoting the brand’s founder Philip Wildbore, she added, “Profit above respect is man at his ignorant best.” “Price should not be leading your company,” agreed Peter Schuitema, co-owner of Kuyichi, a Dutch brand that introduced the denim industry’s first-ever pair of organic jeans in 2001. “For Kuyichi, it’s not our goal to get the cheapest thing; our goal is to get the most beautiful thing which is correct from A to Z. Most companies, their first question is ‘What will it cost to produce here?’ and then they keep barking about the price. Sustainability is something that should be in your roots, in your genes, as a company.” Yet today, four years after the deadly Rana Plaza garment factory collapse that killed 1,137 people, it’s still low-cost countries that churn out most of the world’s apparel. In February, the Netherlands-based Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (Somo) released a report that claimed children as young as 14 worked a six-day week in Myanmar, earning half the legal minimum wage, to make clothes for New Look and H&M. Moreoever, another recent survey titled “Dangerous Delays on Worker Safety” alleged
that members of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, including Gap Inc., Target, VF Corp., Hudson’s Bay Company and Walmart, were failing to fulfill their commitments to make supplier factories safe. According to the survey, 62 percent of garment factories were still lack working fire exits and fire alarm systems, while nearly half had major structural issues. “In the case of laundries the problem is about investment,” Olah pointed out. “Old factories don’t wish to invest in new equipment. It’s like people riding around on horses in 1932 saying the cost of cars is excessive, or typewriter users afraid of a personal computer cost in 1987.” “The mills are taking measures to cut down on the number of steps in the production process as well as trying to limit the consumption of natural resources,” shared Ebru Debbag, director of sales, marketing and product development for Turkish denim manufacturer Orta Anadolu, whose clients include Guess, Jack & Jones and Mavi. “We at Orta are trying to reduce our off-standard production and contribute to the value-added approach. We are also designing sustainable processes in finishing.” Hong explained that Source Denim’s proprietary production process, developed in partnership with a mill in Italy, is what weighs heaviest on the brand’s coffers. But this process uses an all-natural material that cuts the amount of chemicals in a pair of blue jeans in half and uses 60 percent less water and 40 percent less energy than ordinary denim production. “The standard at our denim mill is high and we work to prevent cross contamination, which means that every yard of our denim is going to be at least two times more expensive than denim you could get from mass producers elsewhere,” she said. “But if you feel our denim, it is a high quality, premium raw denim that matches the look and feel of other premium raw denim on the market. If anything, it’s an even better customer experience because our colors are richer and the dyes don’t rub off, thanks to our special all-natural dye-fixing treatment.” Kuyichi jeans are made mostly from organic cotton grown and handpicked in Turkey and Kyrgizistan, recycled cotton and recycled polyester from discarded water bottles. Even the patches on its jeans are made from recycled paper instead of leather and the brand is aiming for a completely closed-loop system. “Sometimes it’s difficult to control the whole line but we are always looking to find the right thing and to do the right thing,” Schuitema said. Patagonia relaunched its denim collection in 2015 after retooling the entire production process of its jeans alongside an advertising campaign that declared, “Denim is filthy business.” But by using low-impact dye and manufacturing processes, 100 percent pesticide-free organic cotton and Fair Trade-certified sewing practices, the company cut water consumption by 84 percent, reduced energy use by nearly a third and produced 25 percent less carbon dioxide. “The apparel industry, especially fast fashion, does nothing to educate consumers about the true cost of manufacturing clothes and the impact on both the environment and the people who work in the supply chain,” said Helena Barbour, Patagonia’s senior director of global sportswear. “Change will come slowly as consumers learn
more about the stories behind their clothes— from the few brands having this discussion, from activists and the media—and an economic imperative for change grows.” But it’s not just consumers that aren’t aware of the gory details. Oftentimes people involved in the industry are just as oblivious. “When I worked in the fashion industry previously, I started to realize that I was part of a system that created cheap junk that would be worn once or twice and then discarded,” said Noor Zaka, who designed for Zac Posen, Tahari and Ellen Tracy before founding Noorism in 2015, an upcycle brand that takes apart old jeans and turns them into new pieces. “I started researching the current process of making denim with the intention of educating my own customer and was actually very shocked personally to find out it was so much worst than I thought. U.S. brands could do a lot more to educate the consumer about this.” And frankly, it’s going to take a lot more than
H&M’s latest recycling campaign or Conscious collection to change things—but it’s a start. “Companies either have an overall corporate sustainable initiative for their entire company or not,” Olah said, pointing to Patagonia and Eileen Fisher as beacons of change. “It’s not about one collection of ‘green’ garments. It’s either all of them or nothing. You either believe in sustainability or you fake it. That’s the reality.” But Source Denim’s Hong views limited-edition ethical collections as a necessary evil for some companies looking to test the market to see if it’s ready for a full-on launch of sustainable apparel. “So it’s on the customer to show these brands that this is something they prioritize and demand,” she said. “Companies are at the whim of their customers, so if they know something is important to them, they will act on it. And the type of leverage and power these larger companies have can really make a huge difference.”
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Chemistry Exam Industry experts weigh in on Cleaning up the confusion surrounding chemicals. By Emily Goldman
The adage says, “You are what you eat.” But what about what you wear? With countless chemicals and substances involved in clothing production, many consumers are left wondering what they are putting against their skin. From mill to designer, the supply chain is aware of the concern. In February, global leaders in the textile chemical industry accepted the invitation of House of Denim, a non-profit foundation in Amsterdam, to discuss collaboration with the goal of including all players operating in textile chemistry to drive towards consistent and conscious chemistry throughout the denim supply chain and beyond. “Amsterdam is home to some of the world’s leading jeans brands, but we are fully aware that to clean up this industry, we need to collaborate across borders and involve players from the various stages of denim: this is a complex global industry,” said James Veenhoff, House of Denim founder. “Although there’s a lot of hard work ahead, it’s exciting to see industry visionaries from as far apart as India, China, Europe and the Americas so unanimous in their support for this direction. We need our leaders to lead—and it appears that this is what is happening, starting from the world of chemistry.” The debate and confusion surrounding the use of chemicals in denim manufacturing came to a head at Kingpins Transformers last October, where representatives from the supply chain squabbled about the best safe, sustainable and affordable practices. “Public opinion and concerns over the environment and safety have done a solid job at ‘shocking’ big brands into action. But to be honest, the chemical side of things is so complex that no company or brand is able to influence things on their own,” said Transformers initiator Andrew Olah. “That’s why this collaboration is so essential for real change to happen.” The chemicals and substances used to achieve looks in the denim industry go through careful inspection to make sure that the products leave out unnecessary and potentially harmful substances. The two lists at the center of the textile industry’s battle to exclude harmful chemicals are the Restricted Substance Lists (RSL) and Manufactured Restricted Substance Lists (MRSL). Each brand creates their own guidelines. However, many lists contain the same substances due to government regulation and/or legislation that limits certain hazardous chemicals. The difference between the two lists seem minor, but exists. As Garmon Chemicals CMO Alberto De
Conti explained, the MRSL includes chemicals and substances created from treatments in manufacturing. As in, potential substances formed from heat and chemical reactions. These substances might not appear in the final product, but might be created as byproducts of chemical reactions, and therefore must be accounted for during the process for the MRSL. RSL serves as a list of chemicals and substances that are not in the final product. The difference lies in the point of production. Government regulations and laws aside, each brand typically claims their own RSL and/or MRSL. As chemists conduct more research, the lists grow. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told Rivet, “[The] EPA will consider chemicals already on the market as the Agency identifies priorities for risk evaluation,” meaning the lists constantly change. Take Nike for example. The brand’s website states: “Our Restricted Substance List is based on the most stringent worldwide legislation or regulation. In addition, we’ve voluntarily included substances that may not be legislated but have been identified as hazardous to the worker, consumer or the environment.” Those in the denim industry understand the limitations—creatively and financially—to achieving certain finishes without banned items on the RSL and MRSL. “It is fairly costly to put together a list,” De Conti said. “Now, quite frankly, if you’re a new brand… [the RSL] are available online. So, it depends on what you want to do. What is extremely costly is to be compliant with these lists,” he added. De Conti urged the necessity of having one list for all brands to follow. “What we really need is one guideline that is come up for everybody that we can test all of our products against that guideline. Because, if today [someone asks for a] chemical product to be tested for formaldehyde, then [the] competitor comes along and wants that specific chemical to be tested in a slightly different way, we’ll do it again,” said De Conti. “It’s twice the cost and you get to exactly the same result.” Chemical company Archroma sees changes in guidelines as well. “[The] denim industry is going through continuous challenges regarding sustainability,” said Miguel Sanchez, Archroma head global business development—denim and casualwear. “The use of hazardous chemicals like Sodium Hypochlorite or Potassium Permanganate for the bleaching effects, or the sand blasting for the worn out looks, are some examples of problems to be
solved for a safer and better production of denim articles.” While those in the textile industry take sustainability seriously, the industry saw many changes and an uptick in possible harmful chemicals over the years. “People love scandals and disasters in our industry and I’ve seen many people thrown under the bus for nothing,” quipped Alberto Candiani, global manager of Candiani Denim. A big factor in a safe and clean environment comes from RSL and MRSL, ensuring that mills and tanneries avoid potentially harmful chemicals and substances. Candiani grew up on his family’s mill compound located in Parco Del Ticino, 30 miles outside of Milan, Italy. “The environment itself has forced us to perform differently and invest way more money than any other mill in the world in new sustainable technologies and eco-friendly solutions,” said Candiani. “My bedroom at my parent’s house was facing the finishing division. We would have not lived there for over 50 years if we were not feeling safe and part of a clean environment.” Levi’s pioneered the RSL and MRSL, establishing its own comprehensive lists which the brand updates annually to comply with global environmental regulations and chemical management. “In 2012 [Levi’s] piloted a method for screening chemicals in our supply chain. Called the Screened Chemistry Program, it represents the future of chemical management by taking a hazard-based approach to identify and substitute best-in-class or better alternatives from the onset,” said Anna Walker, Levi Strauss & Co. senior director, policy and advocacy. The program tests chemicals against health and environmental impacts so Levi’s can work with suppliers to create superior alternatives and areas to improve. The brand still uses their RSL and MRSL, but delves even further into sustainability by utilizing Screened Chemistry to look at hazard versus risk. According to Walker, Levi’s requires supplier factories to prioritize responsible chemical management, and to work closely with suppliers and analytical labs to ensure that factors are met throughout the supply chain. “It’s not about designing our perfect list, but rather ensuring we create the best products for our consumers. We believe the RSL and MRSL in partnership with our Screened Chemistry Program achieve that,” said Walker. RIVETANDJEANS.COM / APRIL 2017 / 27
Straight from the Source Direct-to-consumer sales will fuel U.S. apparel retail this year and denim doyennes want in. By Lyndsay McGregor
When apparel e-tailer Everlane launched in 2011, the site sought to reinvent retail by offering wardrobe staples at realistic prices, touting “radical transparency” that revealed each piece’s production cost, where it was made and the markup, as well as how much it would go for at a comparable retailer. By shunning wholesale—and all the costs that went along with it—and selling directly to consumers via e-commerce, Everlane claimed it could keep prices low and quality high. Six years later, Everlane offers everything from Italian leather shoes to cashmere sweaters in a neutral color palette that appeals to its discerning base of minimalist dressers. And it’s not the only direct-to-consumer label selling an uber-specific range of products to ever-picky shoppers: Eyewear brand Warby Parker popularized the business model and other notable players include Bonobos (menswear), Glossier (skincare and makeup) and Outdoor Voices (activewear). Direct-to-consumer brands are also disrupting denim. Mott & Bow entered the fray in 2014, selling premium jeans for a “fair price” (read: $96 to $128). AYR popped up that year, too, with prices starting at $175 for its range of Los Angeles-made denim. Prices for DSTLD jeans, manufactured in North America using sustainable materials and natural dyes where possible, top out at $125. “By focusing on direct-to-consumer, brands can forge closer relationships with customers, offer exceptional service that builds engagement and adapt quickly to changing conditions,” explained Robert Wright, founder of Warp + Weft, a new RIVETANDJEANS.COM / APRIL 2017 / 28
denim brand slated to launch online in May. Corey Esptein, co-founder and co-chief executive of DSTLD, furthered that sentiment. “We believe that customers are looking for a more authentic relationship with the brands they wear or the items they shop for,” Epstein said. “They’re looking for a story, a higher level of trust and transparency and the direct-to-consumer business model provides that. Customers are more and more educated on the idea of cost versus quality and they want to pay for quality but not overpay.” Maggie Winter, AYR co-founder and CEO of AYR, agreed. “The power has shifted from distributors to customers,” she said. “Traditional institutions like print media and major department stores no longer control access. Now brands and consumers can be in constant contact. The entire playing field has changed.” Indeed, direct-to-consumer brands are buzzing while specialty and department stores are struggling to stand out in a sea of sameness. Sales have been in a tailspin for years at Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s, leading to bloated inventories and margin-killing markdowns. Even big names such as Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Coach have begun to jump ship in favor of their own direct-to-consumer strategy to avoid cheapening their brands. And the trend looks like it will continue. According to Moody’s Investors Service, U.S. apparel sales will grow as much as 8 percent this year, buoyed by the burgeoning direct-toconsumer segment.
So what’s in it for the shoppers? Online-born brands claim their customers appreciate cost transparency and want to know the story behind the products they buy. But it can’t be as simple as a peek behind the curtain, given that off-price retail is also booming and surveys have shown that consumers aren’t willing to pay more for sustainably produced goods. Nonetheless, that’s the message these brands are running with. “Know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why,” Everlane’s website stresses, while a message on DSTLD’s homepage declares, “We design and craft luxury-grade denim and essentials and refuse to work with department stores and retail middlemen, passing on the savings to you.” Mott & Bow’s site simply says, “Premium jeans. Fair price.” Most retailers use a 50 percent markup (the keystone method), doubling the wholesale price of a product to cover expenses and pad the profitability of sales. If a pair of premium jeans costs $50 to produce, the retailer pays $100 and a shopper is expected to shell out $200. But it’s not just the general public that pays when a brand sells to a traditional retailer. In addition to settling for low margins, brands may get stuck with the bill for advertising, returns and markdowns, which can lead to cut corners in the supply chain by using cheap fabric and labor. “The direct-to-consumer model cuts costs on the customer’s side, not the production side,” Epstein of DSTLD clarified. “So consumers are still getting a high quality garment without having to pay traditional retail markups found in brick-and-
mortar stores.” Though the LA brand doesn’t break down the production cost of its products, it highlights how much a designer label might charge for a comparable item. For instance, DSTLD women’s high-waisted ripped mom jeans in faded black are priced at $85 versus $225 for an equivalent style and quality of denim sold at a department or specialty store. “We source our fabric at the same places traditional premium brands do, as well as cut and sew in all the same places. The main difference is our clothing goes from our factory, directly to you, with no third parties in between,” Epstein added. Similarly, AYR works with luxury textiles (sourced mainly from Italy) that it would never be able to produce affordably with a traditional markup. And yet the brand’s customers still save an average of 50 percent. “Our ethos is to architect smaller collections of well-made product that exist in our collection for a longer period of time, slowing down the seasonal approach to fashion,” Creative Director Jac Cameron said. “Our price point truly reflects a fair value of quality. The more traditional wholesale mode is caught in a very strict selling and markdown cycle that churns through collections with a much faster approach to ‘seasons.’” In short: “The advantage of a direct-toconsumer model for shoppers is that they aren’t paying more than they need to,” explained Claudia Bae Kye, co-founder of American-made 1Denim and second generation to her family’s denim factory in LA.
Digitally native brands can also react to their customers’ demands much faster than a larger wholesale- or retail-driven brand. As Warp + Weft’s Wright pointed out, “Because direct-to-consumer brands don’t have to adhere to the traditional wholesale calendar, it means they can respond quicker to consumer demands and trends. This ensures a fresh and constantly updated product assortment that is dictated by the consumer’s needs and wants rather than those of a wholesale account.” In a way, direct-to-consumer could help address the seasonality issues that plague retailers and customers around the world. Likewise, it could be a cure to the fashion fatigue felt by shoppers whose Snapchat and Instagram feeds are flooded with photos of product months before it’s available to buy. That’s why San Francisco-based e-tailer Genuine People has a turnaround of less than two weeks, so new products hit the site on an almost daily basis. Another plus: Brands are able to control their own narrative, creating a personal experience and aesthetic that can help cultivate a customer’s emotional connection and influence buying decisions. “When you’re one of 40 denim brands featured at a department store, there is no comparison to the level of knowledge the sales associate possesses compared to someone who actually works internally for a brand,” Epstein said. Additional advantages include access to customer information, increased levels of data and the ability to tailor product offerings accordingly. Not to mention, the decision to discount (or not) u
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Mott & Bow
is up to the brand. After all, if consumers grow accustomed to seeing a particular name on the clearance rack, they will never pay full price for it. “I’ve seen many brands become ‘discount brands’ because retailers would put them ‘on sale’ for most of the year. That’s fine if that’s the brand strategy, but we can imagine that’s not always what the brands want,” said 1Denim’s Bae Kye. Direct-to-consumer is not all sunshine and lollipops though. Starting a denim brand from scratch and selling without the support and name recognition of a big-box store in a prime location behind it is no walk in the park. “Starting out, you have to work that much harder to reach your customer and know how to market your own product,” said Mott & Bow Founder Alejandro Chahin. “Definitely the biggest disadvantage is that you are really limited in your sales distribution as you are not relying on the thousands of retail stores and department stores; you are limited to your online store and however many brick-and-mortars you may have,” said Elizabeth Bae, 1Denim cofounder. “In that way, you’re not able to reach a larger part of the market as quickly as you may want.” That’s why AYR has partnered with Nordstrom, selling both online and in 12 stores. The brand recently opened its first brick-and-mortar location in New York City’s Soho neighborhood so customers can touch and feel the product and meet the team in person. “As a digital brand we understand that you can never underestimate the importance of creating a
physical world to connect with the customer in real time,” Cameron said. “These types of experiences help to build a loyal customer who will repeat purchase online.” But when a brand’s own website is its only retail channel, anything less than a seamless shopping experience could lead to lost sales. “Disappointing customer service or a sub-optimal e-commerce site no longer flies in this hyper-competitive marketplace,” Wright said. Epstein agreed: “An area that is more difficult for brands is building a world-class experience from the ground up. You need to build your own customer service, your own tech stack and shopping platform, be great digital marketers—it’s a lot more to handle!” Returns present another problem. “You give customers the privilege to shop directly from their office or home and that comes with a price,” noted Nave Avimor, co-founder of Genuine People. “From a business perspective, you may need to have a deep understanding of your merchandising strategy and constantly analyse your shoppers’ behavior so that you’ll know what works and what doesn’t.” “Because of vanity sizing in clothing, it can be confusing for consumers to know their size,” Chahin added, noting that Mott & Bow solves this dilemma by offering first-time buyers the option to add a second waist size to their order for free, including a prepaid label to return the pair that doesn’t fit. DSTLD encourages its customers to take advantage of its free shipping and returns policy
and recommends ordering more than one size or style to try on at home. Similarly, when 1Denim relaunched its website in March, the brand introduced a “Try Two Pairs” program. “A shopper can choose both a size 25 and a size 26, pay for just one pair, try both on and return the pair that does not fit,” Bae said. “We thought this would be a good solution to get people more open and receptive to purchasing denim online.” When all’s said and done, however, the rules of retail are changing. Shoppers are no longer satisfied with impersonal super-sized stores chock-full of stuff, nor do they want to spend hours trawling their online equivalent. Direct selling, either online or in-store, simplifies the shopping experience by offering a curated selection of products, putting customer service at the center. “It’s a great time to be a shopper,” Winter maintained. “Customers have total control. There is much more choice and the super-competitive landscape demands superior service. Expectations are high and, in the end, the customer wins.”
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California Dreamin' Los angeles-based Denimheads discuss what it will take for the city to Experience a denim Revival. By Amy Leverton
Despite the number of countries that produce and manufacture denim around the world, from Thailand to Pakistan to Japan to Turkey, there are only a number of true denim meccas. These are the places that denim lovers either long to go, or, if they’re lucky visit on a regular basis in hope of finding inspiration, business or production. These places are rare denim gems, known the world over, discussed and revered across communities. The city of Los Angeles is one of them. LA is a true casualwear city; the home of skate and surf culture, the center of rock ‘n’ roll and ‘80s hair metal and a gene-pool (pardon the pun) of impeccable vintage style. A typical denim shopping trip would include trawling vintage stores in Longbeach, Melrose, Venice and Silverlake, secret rag-houses on the outskirts of downtown, and a never-ending list of iconic stores such as American Rag and Mister Freedom. Not to mention, the famous monthly flea markets attracting buyers from all over Europe and Asia. But, as well as inspiration, there is real industry there, too. DTLA and Vernon are home to dozens of wash houses, manufacturers and many major design headquarters. It is where the real industry denimheads hang out, creating new designs and samples, working on fits and finishes that could turn into next season’s Houlihan pant, Legion or WM3. A thriving denim industry has been present for decades, a scene that famously exploded again in the early ‘90s when brands like Citizens of Humanity, 7 For All Mankind and J Brand introduced us to the birth of premium denim. But this once industrious community has recently been in a state of flux. Industry news stories inform us of the decline of the denim super-power brands and there is constant talk of city taxes and manufacturing restrictions leading to multiple closures all over Vernon. The city is blighted with drought, and money seems to be drying up as fast as the water. Everyone you talk to has a story about struggle, lack of inspiration, frustration or despondency. However, we all know denimheads. If you work in denim you live and breathe it. And, if you live and breathe it, you simply don’t give up. Amongst the stories of closures is talk of recovery, buzz about new brands and a return to investment in “Made in the USA” manufacturing. Is there a
phoenix rising from the ashes? You bet your back pocket there is. I couldn’t talk about LA denim without talking to the most noted denim resident in town: Adriano Goldschmied. He started working on his brand A Gold E in partnership with the famed Ron Herman back in 1993. “At that time LA was still the place for mass production for many big American brands. Who can forget Koos Manufacturing who did massive production for The Gap with a staff of nearly 2,000 workers?” mused Goldschmied. “But in the late ‘90s production migrated to more competitive countries in Asia and Central America.” We’ve all heard that story before and know that this global production shift has ruptured the U.S. denim manufacturing industry almost irreversibly. The decline in U.S. manufacturing and the increase in overseas sourcing has really made a big dent in the amount of denim produced in LA. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of manufacturers in the city decreased by 33 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. George Wilson is an LA denim survivor, but times are tough. He’s been making denim in the city for over 26 years and described a “bustling” industry in the ‘90s and early 2000’s. He explained some of the practical issues today’s manufacturers face. “For myself and most of the factories it has become very difficult to cover overhead and turn a profit,” he said. “In those days the average cuts were much bigger and most factories could work on piece work. The operators were paid by the piece so it was much easier to control and calculate the cost and turn a profit. Now, the units are much smaller and inconsistent.” After huge corporations like The Gap moved into Asia, LA experienced a renegade reaction when the new premium denim lines emerged— building things up a bit. But as with all cycles, now that movement is taking yet another turn. “We’re seeing the slowdown of that wave, and again, we face a new challenge,” said Goldschmied. And who are some of the individuals who are going to take that challenge? Troy Streib is a freelance denim maverick, working for a number of brands and manufacturers all over the city. He’s never short of work and having moved back to America after nine years in Melbourne, he’s hit the
ground running. Why does he think the giants of the early ‘90s are beginning to flounder and what can we learn from their mistakes? “Large growth, celeb co-signs and global distribution have a way of homogenizing the romance right out of the essence of denim jeans. But, they are also very good for the pocketbook,” admitted Streib. So, with success comes drawbacks. And the ‘00s boom led to a great many brands losing the spark and innovation they entered the market with. Wilson feels the “so called premium brands are stale and have been for years,” but can you truly grow a brand without losing its founding essence? And again, there is the issue of smaller, more innovative brands making things interesting, kicking up other problems like limited orders and inconsistency. Streib described a pretty bleak scene out there when it comes to work, too. “LA’s denim talent pool is still as large, diverse and creative as ever. I often compare it to the film industry, so many aspiring actors, but only a few roles to fill,” he said. The problem is the city is a ghost town compared to the good old days. The rise of fast fashion, often driven by vertical companies, started its global dominance a few years back and with it, a new type of retail emerged. This led to yet another wave of massmanufacturing overseas. LA has, by this time, altered its way of working; growing up into a highly sophisticated, artisanal denim center. The U.S. can never truly compete on price and size with China, Bangladesh or neighbors in Mexico. Does that matter? Not according to Streib. “The big box guys do such a good job of robbing the planets resources to give us a cheap and cheerful product, let’s let them have that,” he quipped. “What we can do here is make product that they will copy, but never get quite right.” That is what’s making our reality interesting: the people who are left fighting the good fight in LA are doing something that continues to set them aside from the rest. “In my opinion there are two things that give new brands a competitive advantage and set LA apart from anywhere else in the world: their unorthodox manufacturing methods and of course the washes,” Streib said. “Here in LA you can still find manufacturers that are doing it the
old-fashioned way. Creasing pockets with an iron, marking and setting them by hand, every garment marked with chalk lines for placement, the use of shirred sacrificial stitches for sleeve caps and generally techniques that most of the developed manufacturing world would shirk at.” “This sentiment goes the same for the laundries, there are processes, especially dry processes that can sometimes take 30 minutes per garment in LA laundries. And the clever handwork and touch ups after wash, the laying out of 100s of pieces to make sure they all look aesthetically congruent... the lamentation and brooding over blue pants is a true thing of beauty to witness. Frankly this is something that a lot of the other major manufacturing capitals don’t make time for, with the exception of course of Japan.” Erika King has worked at American Rag for over 10 years, five of them heading up the Denim Bar. She feels “Made in America” is becoming increasingly important again. “We see customers, daily, that specifically ask for denim that is either made in America or made in Japan. Even Italian mills such as Candiani have opened development centers here, showing their growing interest in the states,” she said. “Los Angeles has become the denim capital of the world.” She also adds that her women’s denim business is at its strongest. So, what’s doing well these days and why? It seems like LA denim has moved away from its more ostentatious past. Gone are the blingy back pockets of the late ‘90s, the over-the-top branding and even the more recent jegging. Denim does seem to be returning to its roots in rigid heritage. If this next resurgence does happen, it’s going to happen in a much quieter, more authentic way. A lot of the brands that are buzzing right now are tapping reworks of a classic jeanswear attitude. For example, Amo denim and its Twist slim, Eve Denim with its vintage inspired raw indigo, all the way to ‘Re-done’ Levi’s. A store that’s hitting all the sweet spots in its denim buy is new addition to La Brea, Shop Super Street. Run by Lucy Akin, the store also heralds the return to authenticity, stocking ‘Re-Done, Bliss and Mischief, The Great and R13, amongst others. “As far as denim goes, I definitely think LA is having a resurgence. We really spear-headed the vintage Levi trend,” said Akin. “With brands like Bliss and Mischief and Re-Done, it made it possible to find the perfect fitting vintage jean for your body. And then… it blew up.” LA hasn’t led the way in denim design since the early 2000’s and it’s exciting to think the area could once again drive a new movement. “I think we have influenced the fashion scene heavily for the past couple of years and that spans beyond just denim—when Hedi Slimane was at the helm of Saint Laurent we entered this whole grunge movement that was inspired by LA.” So how can the West Coast really harness its newfound power? There’s a buzz, that’s certain, but with the area’s manufacturing issues, can LA really pull itself from the ashes? What do they need to focus on to make it work? As a manufacturer, Wilson has direct contact with many of the buzzworthy brands and explains the multiple issues he faces with expectations versus reality. “It might look cool and awesome on Instagram, but most of the brands are clueless and not in touch with the actual reality of how difficult it is to
pay a living wage to employees, keep all of the legal requirements in order—garment license, workers’ comp, liability insurance. Then pay overtime on rush orders and turn a profit,” urged Wilson. “It has become almost impossible.” “I think that the small-medium scale premium/ luxury product is where LA can make its niche,” said Streib. “And those are the brands that thrive here. Brands that prefer exclusivity over saturation, and quality over bottom dollar.” The problem is, we still have the practical issue of industry. Maybe brands can build a new scene but will LA ever be able to grow its manufacturing back to the glory days of the ‘90s? Especially when we’re celebrating the smaller, niche brands and safeguarding the more artisanal qualities of our depleted factories. “My short answer is, not in the same way that it was ‘back in the good ole days.’ But I think that if you look at it under the microscope there are many more LA brands (and New York brands made in LA) nowadays that are producing far superior product to the brands of ‘the good ole days’,” said Goldschmeid. “They are just smaller.” So maybe the question isn’t ‘can we’ maybe it’s ‘should we?’ Maybe, as Streib said, we should now focus on what we do best and that’s premium denim, designer level innovation and uncompromising quality. Goldschmeid has a plan. “I think that we should open LA to the luxury design brands that are very into denim,” he mused. “I think that LA should find the way to promote denim to the top American designers that unfortunately at the moment do not have the same sensibility in denim as the European ones. LA should be home for all of them, starting from Gucci, Stella, Vêtements and so many others.” Wilson has his own businesses plan to offer. “There is a fix where it could be a win-win for everyone: things are going in the direction of direct-to-consumer, so if the manufacturers look at it as a partnership with the producers we could make it work,” he said. “I use the analogy of a pie where everyone involved gets a fair slice; the brands turn a larger profit on direct sales. They need to eat some of the margin on the distribution, and wholesale balances it out with profits and spreads it out to everyone that should get a slice. It’s a simple fix but the majority of brands don’t care to look at that.” With so many smart minds in Los Angles, so much talent and passion, it’s heartbreaking to ponder LA’s current state of denim. Experiencing a buzz that hasn’t occurred since the late ‘90s, LA has the capabilities on-hand and has built a niche for itself where quality rules over quantities. The days of The Gap and mass manufacturing may have gone, but what we’re left with is actually a more sustainable, less damaging, better business. One that has become more flexible while maintaining artisanal capabilities. With a future that is becoming more direct-to-consumer and transparent, maybe LA is actually in a better place than most. Maybe this is the struggle before the stability.
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Retail Revolution It's a battlefield out there, Consider adding these technologies to your arsenal. By Lyndsay McGregor
Virtual Reality (VR) Early adopters Topshop and Tommy Hilfiger may have transported shoppers to the front row of their fashion shows with the help of a headset, but there’s more to VR than recreating the runway. Take a leaf out of The North Face’s playbook and bring products to life in a 360-degree video and audio experience that could help cinch a sale. That’s not all: online shoppers armed with their own VR headsets can access a brick-and-mortar experience from the comfort of their couch. Augmented Reality (AR) Whereas VR immerses people in an entirely new reality, AR blends the real-world environment with virtual objects à la last year’s Pokemon Go craze that saw millions running round the streets chasing cartoon creatures that could only be seen through their smartphone cameras. Furniture sellers Ikea and Wayfair use AR to help consumers visualize what purchases would look like in their homes, while Sephora’s app allows users to take a selfie and virtually test makeup. Similiarly, Gap is hoping its new “DressingRoom” app, which lets shoppers dress a 3-D mannequin based on their measurements and make a purchase without setting foot in a store, will help combat its ongoing sales decline.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Voice-activated apps, chatbots and digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home are already helping people discover and refine product selections based on their responses to a series of questions, but retailers have only scratched the surface of what AI is capable of. Tech vendor Cloverleaf debuted a LCD display dubbed ShelfPoint at NRF Big Show in January that offers visual marketing campaigns to attract, engage and convert shoppers based on their level of participation and distance. Eye-level sensors recognize a shopper’s emotional reaction to a product or promotion (read: joy, sadness, disgust) to capture customer behavior data at the exact moment of purchase decision. The goal: retailers will understand their customers better and shoppers will enjoy a more personalized and engaging experience.
in a long line waiting to try something on. But a handful of retailers, including Rebecca Minkoff and Ralph Lauren, are turning to tech-enabled mirrors to transform the try-on experience into a more customer-friendly, interactive one. Shoppers can tap these mirrors to change the lighting in the fitting room or request a sales associate bring them different sizes, cuts or colors. New York City-based startup Oak Labs’ fitting room mirrors also capture valuable shopper insights for retailers, such as conversion rate per item, time spent in the fitting room and conversion rate per fitting room visit. The company added contactless payments in February, so shoppers can now build a digital cart and seamlessly complete their purchase using NFC (near-field communication) through the mirror.
employees only. The jury’s still out on what a checkout-free supermarket means for the future of retail, but any time technology can build a better shopping experience and keep customers coming back is a big win for both sides.
Facial Recognition Facial recognition technology walks the fine line between creepy and cool. But it can improve the customer experience when retailers use it to Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tailor marketing messages according to gender, RFID use is on the rise—and for good reason. A age and mood, or to alert a salesperson that a growing number of retailers, including G-Star Raw high value shopper has just walked in. For retailers, franchisee Denimwall, are realizing the benefits facial recognition can provide detailed analytics on of attaching the tiny tracking chips to products traffic flows within their store or how long people to help with inventory tracking and management. spend looking at particular displays and use It means they always know how many they have that information to optimize product placement in stock at a specific warehouse or store—even and, thus, their sales. Alternatively, it can also be pinpointing their exact location in real-time—and employed to pinpoint potential shoplifters. can replenish accordingly. RFID chips, which are electronically loaded with information, can also Sensors provide an opportunity for smartphone-wielding Amazon did it again in December when news shoppers to learn more about a particular product broke of Go, a grocery store without cashiers and see styling suggestions or similar items. or checkouts. Shoppers can enter the store by Moreover, luxury names Moncler and Salvatore scanning an Amazon Go app on their smartphone Ferragamo have begun using the technology and the company’s “Just Walk Out” technology to combat counterfeits by allowing customers keeps track of when a product is picked up or put to verify the authenticity of their prospective back, automatically updating a virtual cart. When a purchases using an app. shopper is done, he or she simply leaves the store Smart Mirrors According to Alert Tech research, shoppers who use fitting rooms are 70 percent more likely to make a purchase than those who just browse the sales floor. The problem is that most people would rather leave the store empty-handed than stand
and their Amazon.com account is charged. Amazon has kept mum on the specifics, save for noting that advanced sensors throughout the store—much like those used in self-driving cars— track everything shoppers do and can tell the difference between a salad and a sandwich. The first store, in Seattle, is currently open to Amazon
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All the Trimmings From Mother Nature to Psychedelia , Munich Fabric Start presented a creative and colorful array of Trims bound to take denim to the next level. By Angela Velasquez
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THE PERFECT FITTING JEANS RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX. EVERYTIME, FOR EVERYONE. Inclusive Sizing, Next Generation Denim, Fair Price
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What they wore two-tone denim, texture , fashion sneakers, dapper men and their best friend stole the show at Bluezone . By angela velasquez
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ONE OF A KIND Customized denim can't be ignored. Photography by Rick Day
Styling by Angela Velasquez
Jacket by BPD Washhouse
Customized jacket by Denim Therapy. Opposite: Customized jeans by Denim Therapy.
Customized jacket and jeans by Denim Therapy, Opposite: Customized jeans by Denim Therapy. Photography by Rick Day. Stylist: Angela Velasquez; Hair and makeup: Tiffany Oliver/Willemina; Model: Anya/Q Management.
Kingpins Trend report: Fall/Winter 2018 Denim By Amy Leverton
Denim’s evolution continues. Amy Leverton distills the trends that will shape the look and feel of jeans for the F/W 2018 season. Driven by throwback styling, subversive subcultures, classic workwear and oldfashioned Americana, four main trends emerge as key. Get the complete F/W 2018 denim trend story and see an installation of garments inspired by the trends at the upcoming Kingpins Shows in Amsterdam, New York, Hong Kong and China.
Art School Indie
As if. The ‘90s are back, but this time we’re eschewing the cool bits and opting for the antifashion of everyday-wear. Vintage and customized denim combines with everyday sportswear items and an art-school eccentric spin to create a new tribe of creative youth. Focus on awkward silhouettes, thrifted ‘90s vintage and DIY culture.
Courtesy of Kingpins Show; Photographer: Team Peter Stigter
Peels RIVETANDJEANS.COM / APRIL 2017 / 48
Marlen Stahlhuth @lenipaperboats
Itching for a fight. Driven by an emerging new breed of subversive, ironic labels, the post-normcore generation are homing in on an anti-fashion, working-class aesthetic. Jaded and prone to code-switching among genres and subcultures, todayâ€™s youth pick and choose from skate, soccer, punk and indie references without loyalty to authenticity or lifestyle.
Bode; Photographer: Federico Fernandez
CMMN SWDN; Photographer: Pelle Crepin
Denim dandy meets matador meets mid-century playboy. Spurred on by the breakdown of global divides, classic Americana is seen through the lens of emerging and established nationalities. Tapping Latin, Asian, African and Indonesian flavors, this fashion-driven take on Western vintage drips with rich fabrics, embellishments and a darkened color palette.
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Lorod Photo credit: Ward + Kweskin
Blue Farm Textile Ltd.
Heritage, but high-fashion. Workwear detailing evolved from its core roots in â€˜40s workwear, through into a more streetwear-driven aesthetic last season before finally being claimed by the runway for F/W 2018. This has led to exaggerated silhouettes, offbeat proportions, manipulated seam detailing and a collection of re-engineered classic jeanswear items. Strong contrast top-stitching now emphasizes the more extreme styling of the fashion world. Add runway-ready fabrics (silk, velvet, satin) and the latest technical advances in denim and the post-denim trend comes into focus: clean and minimal with an emphasis on construction and silhouette. Cross Fly Wet Gloss Jeans
Courtesy of Global Denim Awards; Roosmarijn Koster for Arvind; Photographer: Team Peter Stigter
Volcom; Photographer: Carl Wilson
Art School Indie
As if. The ‘90s are back, but this time we’re eschewing the cool bits and opting for the anti-fashion of everyday-wear. Vintage and customized denim combines with everyday sportswear items and an art-school eccentric spin to create a new tribe of creative youth. Focus on awkward silhouettes, thrifted ‘90s vintage and DIY culture. 496 Fabric Lab
Blue Farm Textile Ltd.
Ready... Set...Stretch, Denim with Attitude Denim containing X4zol™-J forms to your figure without binding, is soft and comfortable, and has longer recovery life for that continued "new" look.
Lubrizol’s innovative fiber, X4zol™-J, takes denim fit to a new frontier with balanced, 360-degree comfortable stretch and support. Wearers feel energized in denim fabrics containing X4zol™-J, allowing them to move comfortably and confidently in different climates, while it retains that “newness” from wash to wash. The Lubrizol Corporation, a BerkshireHathaway company, has engineered a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) fiber that revolutionizes denim fabric, as well as other fabric types. X4zol™-J is a unique elastomeric monofilament that is both finer and stronger than traditional spandex, and is manufactured without solvents. The flat modulus of the X4zol™-J fiber allows the denim to stretch more easily and doesn’t feel restrictive, yet it provides support. Denim containing X4zol™-J shapes and sculpts different body types into a smooth silhouette, without the feeling of being restricted, so the wearer experiences the ultimate in comfort. This makes it ideal for different body shapes and sizes. Additionally, X4zol™-J requires at least 30 percent less force to stretch than spandex. The fiber is produced using a melt extrusion process. The resulting monofilament has significantly higher molecular weight vs spandex, making it both thinner and stronger. This translates to a higher breathability in denim fabrics creating a cooling sensation. X4zol™-J is produced without the use of solvents common in other stretch fiber production resulting in a reduced environmental impact*. Lubrizol collaborated with Olah Inc., a New York-based denim marketing company with global experience, to develop denim fabrics with Prosperity Textiles to supply to brands and retailers. Olah Inc., in combination with Prosperity, has provided the technical expertise to create the next generation of stretch denim fabrics with attributes targeted to consumer demand. Other denim mills will join the Olah team with X4zol™-J in the future. Oprah Winfrey models NYDJ Denim jeans made with X4zol™-J fiber on the cover of the Oprah Magazine, March 2017 issue. The NYDJ Alina Legging is made with Future Fit Denim™. As NYDJ describes: This advanced, new denim fabric features elastic fiber compression technology that uniformly hugs every curve for a perfectly
flawless, second-skin fit. With comfortable stretch and superior recovery, Future Fit Denim™ helps smooth lumps and bumps for a youthful appearance and contoured fit. Visit www.nydj.com for products and information. Michael Morrell, a partner at Olah Inc. believes, “X4zol™-J is the only true sculpting fiber because of its linear compression traits which are so essential to stretch jeans.” “The secret to the success of X4zol™-J is in its very nature”, says Michael. Traditional elastane stretch fibers feature a steeper stress/strain curve, illustrating initial resistance to stretch, and then finally a rapid increase in resistance to the point of full elongation, or breakage. A compelling attribute of X4zol™-J is its distinctive stress/strain curve, which illustrates softer, more consistent stretch up to the point of full elongation, tracing a “J” shape. This allows the wearer to experience freedom of movement with no restriction. Olah’s partner mill, Prosperity Textiles, will feature the Fall 2018 collection of denim garments made with X4zol™-J under the “J-Fit” trademark at the Amsterdam Kingpins Show April 19-20 and at the Paris Denim Premiere Vision Show April 2627, 2017.
The Lubrizol Corporation The Lubrizol Corporation, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is a technology-driven global company that owns and operates manufacturing facilities in 17 countries, as well as sales and technical offices around the world. Founded in 1928, Lubrizol has approximately 9,000 employees worldwide. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.x4jfiber.com *Environmental impact determined via “Life Cycle Assessment of X4zol™-J Fiber” conducted by Environmental Resources Management (ERM).
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www.carvedinblue.lenzing-fibers.com TENCELÂŽ is a registered trademark of Lenzing AG for lyocell fibers Lenzing ModalÂŽ is a registered trademark of Lenzing AG for modal fibers
let there be light Tencel and jeanologia take on traditional Textile production with innovative laser technology.
From its inception, environmental responsiblility was always the unique selling point for TENCEL®, however that counted for very little in those early days. Since the turn of the 21st century, the ethical production of textiles—improving both its impact on workers’ health and on the environment— has become increasingly important. And today, according to Lenzing Project Manager Michael Kininmonth, as those considerations are also now valued by both brands and consumers, sustainable production has grown in importance to garment manufacturers and apparel brands. Although there has been continuous evolution in laundry processes over the last 30 years, from the “Black Art” of the 1980s to the use of robotics in the 2000s, there has been little or no focus on environment responsibility. The denim industry is amongst the worst culprits when it comes to environmental excess, in part because of the high water use and use of toxic chemicals in the laundry processing. Traditionally fashion laundry has been a lowtech industry driven by manual labor and poor environmental standards, however the last few years has seen a mini revolution in the industry in the adoption of digital technology—not only to reduce its reliance on workers, but also to drive new product development and new environmental thinking. “We know there’s been a need to address past ills,” Kininmonth said in a recent webinar presentation on laser finishing techniques. “But it’s not just about aesthetics… about the look. It’s about how garments are produced. It’s helping garment companies differentiate their products and reputations. That makes it imperative for garment manufacturers to keep in touch with what’s new in laundry technology.” The laser works by creating heat. Within a very precise area the fabric is subject to very intensive heating. This energy is absorbed as heat and leads to a phase change from solid to liquid or even solid to gas. This digital technique replaces the physical or chemical techniques which were previously employed on denim jeans. These include excessive use of water, chemicals like hypochlorite bleach or potassium permanganate,
enzymes, sand blasting, hand scraping and hand brushing—all of which were potentially detrimental to the environment, workers, or both. Jeanologia, one of the leading thinkers and suppliers of sustainable laundry machines and techniques, and Lenzing, with its own history as a manufacturer of environmentally sustainable fibers, have worked together for over 20 years. Through their latest technical collaboration they have discovered that fabrics made from TENCEL® are particularly responsive to laser treatments— this they call “Light Sensitive”. Both 100% TENCEL® as well as blends with other fibers provide the level of photosensitivity that allow garment manufacturers to take full advantage of Jeanologia’s laser finishing methods. TENCEL®’s recycled-content fiber Refibra™ has also been found to be as effective as TENCEL® itself in
providing the desired photosensitivity. The laser finishing machines allow garment finishes of many types to be produced efficiently and effectively on an industrial scale. But not all fabrics react the same way, depending on fiber type, yarn type, the twist of the yarn, the dye type. Fabrics must be analyzed individually to understand the reaction they’ll have in order to obtain the desired effect, Kininmonth said. A washing and finishing “recipe” can then be developed for the garment. While the laser technology hardware is very well developed—most leading garment finishing laundries have the Jeanologia laser machines— what is not so developed is that link between the technology and the fabrics, say Kininmonth and Begoña Garcia, Senior Technologist at Jeanologia. That puts the onus on fabric mills to understand the technology and develop fabrics that can be specified as “light sensitive” fabrics, they said. Levi’s, for one, has done that, developing a score through the testing procedures from Jeanologia. Now Lenzing has created a technical brochure called Light Sensitive, detailing the advantages of using laser laundry technologies in conjunction with the latest TENCEL® fabrics and garments. “Every project that we undertake at Lenzing, we’re trying to ally ourselves in terms of sustainability,” Kininmonth said. “In the area we’re talking about today, which is the denim casual laundry area, there’s a lot of work to do. We’re at the start of a revolution. Although we’re taking about laser today, other technologies also hold a lot of potential. What we doing internally to develop the idea of colored fiber is very interesting–by adding pigment at the fiber manufacturing stage there is potential to make significant savings in water, energy and chemicals. And for Jeanologia, that is their total focus in the marketplace. They won’t do it if it’s not environmental or sustainable.” Demonstrations, swatches and the technical manuals developed by Lenzing will be available at Kingpins in Amsterdam and New York. To find out more visit www.carvedinblue.lenzing-fibers.com or contact: Tricia Carey, Lenzing Global Business Development email@example.com. RIVETANDJEANS.COM / APRIL 2017 / 57
#Rivetandjeans The Best of Rivet's Instagram @Rivetandjeans
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AMERICA’S COTTON PRODUCERS AND IMPORTERS. Service Marks/Trademarks of Cotton Incorporated. © 2015 Cotton Incorporated. Source: The Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey (www.CottonLifestyleMonitor.com), 2013.
Speak with consumers and you’ll discover that they want cotton in their clothes and home goods. More than 80% have stated that they prefer jeans, towels and sheets made of cotton. 66% are bothered that retailers and brands would substitute man-made fibers for cotton. They love cotton so much that over half of consumers say they’re willing to pay more to ensure their T-shirts and denim jeans stay cotton rich. Cotton is clearly on your consumers’ minds. Shouldn’t it be on your label?