Sustainability, a topic that luckily becomes more and more important in the garment industry.
I will not talk numbers & data here, as there are far better informative websites, but just informing you my view and how we approach this topic.
The first thing that people mostly ask when speaking about sustainable denim is; if we use organic cotton in our fabrics. However there is so much more to consider when it comes to sustainability.
Lets talk about some subjects that we take in consideration at Denim.lab
Something overlooked as a topic when speaking about sustainable.
By now you probably know the stories of millions of useless stock garments that are being burned, mainly caused by the fast fashion industry that by now has reached a 12 cycle delivery season (in a year!). so what not has been sold, must get out of the stores because new stuff is coming again.
For Denim.lab I have been avoiding seasons since day one, and for the record, there is nothing wrong about fashion trends and coming up with new ideas all the time, it is the longevity of a designed and produced garment that bothers me, and especially for denim.
Brands keep on designing the same pair of jeans twice a year, they go in the stores, few months later the 'new ' (but same) collection comes in and it goes on sale again.. the retailer cannot make a normal margin and the clever consumer knows he will wait few months and will never pay full price again. plus where there is sale, people tend to get greedy and buy stuff they do not need.
So coming back to our collections, I try to design garments that do not have a season or expiration date, call it the contemporary wardrobe for the modern man.
Using garments longer will have such a big impact on the whole sustainability subject, and jeans are the ultimate garment to really make it your all time favorite.
Working with smaller capsule collections that are seasonless and always on stock there is also no need to put 75% of the collection in sale every 6 months, as every garment has a purpose in the collection and should be a timeless piece, and that we have proven already as many jeans are in the collection for more than 2 years and only being restocked.
Off course every once in a while we will say goodbye to some items, but only because of last pieces, but never dictated by a seasons calendar.
Deadstock fabrics: We source a lot of deadstock fabrics, those are fabrics that have been produced, but not have been sold or used since, this is another way to produce garments with a lower impact.
Cotton: The mills we work with to develop and produce our new fabrics, are buying BCI cotton and that is a big step up for the environment and the farmers. you can read more about it on: https://bettercotton.org. Selvage fabrics are not yet (easy) available in organic, but if our orders become big enough to buy our own, we will aim for fully organic or recycled.
What good does it do, when you buy an organic cotton fast fashion jeans that you will throw away after few months?
By far the most sustainable jeans are the ones that are not prewashed, aka: Dry / Virgin / Raw denim. Also the denim enthusiast that wears these will rarely home-wash them and second, and they mostly own only 1 or 2 pairs throughout a year, so there is less denim produced and that is the best of all options.
The 99,99% majority of the worlds denim consumer, likes his jeans prewashed.
Prewashing or industrial wash is using a lot of water and energy. Water that is used is treated again by large water purification / filtration systems and will be used again, but fresh water is always needed in any case. So be aware of this when you buy a pre-washed denim jeans.
Chemicals; to created amazing washes, chemicals are used to speed up ageing processes, but also Dye stuffs to created color effects can be used. All chemicals used today in the better laundries are way more sustainable than 10 years ago, a lot of progress has been made here and things are actually speeding up last years.
Lazer, is used to apply worn patterns and is always introduced as part of a sustainable concept, which I not fully agree with as it is using a lot of electricity and replacing manual labour which means less work for people. The good thing is that it can replicate flawless thousands of the same effects without (human) error, compared to the old methods that could have created a 5-10% waste of B-choice garments if some guy had a bad day scraping your jeans.
I must admit, that creating washes is the best part of my job that I have enjoyed doing for more than 15 years now.. The name Denim.LAB came from me being always in the laundry LABoratory , creating new ideas. In the end we need to become more aware of what impact it has and how we can improve it.
Humans (read: woman) have been washing there jeans way to often than needed, and still do. It has just become a habit to throw your jeans in the laundry bin in the end of the week and wash it. Levi's has a great read on their website, so click here then I don't need to write it myself.
What I do want to say about it, that the current trend of (cheap) stretch jeans, is also forcing consumers to wash it again after few days, because these cheap stretch fabrics made from crappy fibers have no 'recovery' in them and wear out in few hours.. result: wash them again and on higher temperature to get them back in shape.
For our fabrics we use only the best available ingredients that have the highest recovery standards. Additionally, we added 100% cotton (so no stretch) lining in the waistband, backyoke and backpockets and those also hold the jeans from stretching out, "designed with a purpose".
Probably I will be adding more stuff on this page every now and them, but for now this is it.
if you have any questions about it, please mail me at: email@example.com