Italian jeans maker Blue Line is constantly devising new denim innovations while working closely with suppliers and its biggest customer, Jack & Jones.
The foundation of a good partnership? Both partners should complement each other’s abilities and preferences. This is the secret behind the partnership of almost 25 years between jeans producer Blue Line and the denim brand Jack & Jones. Of the four million
pairs of jeans made by Blue Line in 2013, two million pairs were for Jack & Jones. Doesn’t being dependent on one customer like that pose a huge risk? “No,” says Barbara Pellegrini, in charge of R&D at Blue Line. “It’s a challenge.” Smiling, she adds: “We work so closely together that sometimes it’s hard to say where Blue Line ends and Jack & Jones begins.”
Blue Line consults closely with its partners at all stages of the textile chain and the ideas for new developments sometimes come from Jack & Jones, sometimes from the supplier and sometimes they are the result of sharing ideas. One of the key drivers of innovation in recent years has been sustainability and this focus is already applied with raw materials. Thus– developed from Milan denim pioneer Candiani–the N-Denim Dyeing is used, in which nitrogen delays the oxidation process and accelerates the penetration of Indigo into the yarns. In the production phase of denim, this new indigo dyeing process cuts water consumption by around 33% and reduces the use of added chemicals by up to 50%. Also in the house where subsequently cuts are created, denim cut and finally sewn together, there is a strict no-waste policy. The cutting patterns are placed on the fabric to exploit the area by up to 87%. Denim waste is shredded, processed into fiber and reused.
Blue Line works closely with 6 laundries and DB Wash in Ascoli Piceno 200 kilometers away is one of the most important for Jack & Jones; here about 1 million pairs of jeans have been washed for the brand in 2013. Together with the 3 DB Wash holders Claudio and Costantino Forchini and Stefano Pizzingrilli Blue Line launched the Low Impact Denim (LID) project for Jack & Jones three yearsago. The models in this resource-friendly line are bleached at the desired places using laser technology and afterwards brightened by ozone instead of water. This combination obviates the need for the usual PP spray, which is used to bleach already treated fabrics. By using ozone, 40% less water and 30% less energy are consumed.
What if the jeans need to feel softer? That can also be done without water–in a kind of dry washing machine with rubber balls. All that comes at a price: Every ozone machine costs DB Wash €130,000 and €850,000 were spent for laser machines and the associated air conditioning (lasers only works at 13°- 22°C). Also the environmentally safe disposal of wastewater and chemicals is costly. Nevertheless the focus on alternative treatment methods is unavoidable in order to stay competitive,says Pellegrini: “You cannot cheat the consumer anymore! What consumers know about how something is and should be done is increasing and they are very demanding.” Therefore, on the hangtags of LID, consumers can see exactly what treatments were used and the amount of resources saved in the process.
At the end of the factory visit–after seeing so many efforts in the interest of sustainability and innovation–there is actually just one question left to ask: How can Jack & Jones maintain its entry-level pricing? (The Made in Italy LID denim jeans cost €60 to €80.) the jeans made in Italy (2 of 7 million made per year) are of the highest quality offered by Jack & Jones (its jeans are also made in Turkey, India and Bangladesh), the brand pursues a strategy focused on volume, not margin, explains Nicolai Thorup, buying manager jeans and a 12-year Jack & Jones veteran. Margins are considerably lower than, for example, other Bestseller brands, but piece counts are larger and this facilitates good relations with suppliers.
Italdenim Committed to the Environment
Italdenim has been working for years to reduce its footprint. Luigi Caccia, president of Italdenim, says: “Between 2007 and 2011 we invested over €30 million to build up a textile company that operates sustainable in all its production phases. And between 2009 and 2013 we avoided emitting 6.5 million kilos of CO2, a quantity that could be compensated by a 400,000 high-trunk tree wood.” The company also underwrote the Detox Greenpeace Commitment–an agreement a few other textile manufacturers such as Miroglio, Berbrand, Tessitura Attilio Imperiali, Besani and Zip also joined. Italdenim is the only denim company joining this agreement. They all eliminated the eight chemical substances banished by Greenpeace from their production cycles and, by maximum end 2015, they ensure they will supply full public evidence that at least 80% of all of their global wet process suppliers will be fully disclosing their processes or be Detox committed companies.
Italdenim, has also started employing “Save The Water-Kitosano,” a new natural origin, biodegradable and bio-compatible substance obtained from crustaceans’ exoskeletons and developed by Italian textile group Canepa. The substance can be used when preparing warp yarns. By employing Kitosano, Italdenim could eliminate some chemical agents from the production process. With it yarns lose less color, and increase their antibacterial, anti-static and anti-pilling properties. Consequently Italdenim can use 12 times less water and 90% less energy. Italdenim is an Italian vertically integrated denim manufacturer that employs 200 people and registered €30 million sales in 2013.
Spididenim and Orta Anadolu Join Forces
For f/w 2014-15 Italian specialized motobike apparel manufacturer Spidi debuts a jeanswear collection with Spididenim, a new highly functional fashion-driven denim line for men and woman. Available worldwide, it is a compact selection of ergonomic denim
trousers and five-pockets that uses Orta Anadolu exclusive new high-tech denims Only.
“Denim is the heart of this project,” says Nicola Dalla Grana, president, Spidi Sport SpA.“We think that denim has still great unexpressed potentials. Thanks to our know-how and expertise developed after years side by side with moto GP champions we could develop high-performance and great looking products.” The new collection was designed by expert denim consultant Maurizio Zaupa and employs especially developed high-tech denims treated with new technology by Schoeller Technology such as, NanoSphere, a special nano-technology that makes denim become water-resistant, oilrepellent and self-cleaning. It also uses Schoeller’s ColdBlack technology through which black denim keeps wearers cool under the sun thanks to a Sun Reflector-UV protector treatment. Tenax 12 ounces, a 100% pima cotton denim that is very comfortable and soft but has a raw look and resists to tearing and scratches four times more than a traditional 12 oz. denim, is also used. Other details and garment design solutions complete the offer such as extra inner flaps added to pockets to avoid losing objects. Trousers’ legs can be opened up to 180° and the waist is very comfortable for those riding a bike or a motorbike. Likewise, there is no stitching in the crotch area; items are completed by superlight inner protective linings and applications that are not felt by the wearer, nor visible from the outside.
Toray Develops Fully Plant-Based Polyester
The Japanese chemistry giant and functional fabrics specialist Toray has developed the world’s first fully plantbased polyester yarn made exclusively from renewable raw materials. Until now, only partly plant-based polyesters were on the market. The production of the so called Toray ecodear yarn has succeeded in lab scale and will be ready to be introduced in mass production in 2020. The new polyester consists of starch and treacle, a by-product of sugar production. After the successful launch of the plant-based polyamide made from the castor-oil plant, the new polyester is recognized as the next step in the sustainable textile industry. The new ecodear plant based polyester can be used for fabrics and membranes for garments as well as for bottles and packaging. The polymer is chemically identical to existing polyester from crude oil, and it can still be used for all functions and applications. Ecodear polyester can also be recycled in different ways, forming a closed cycle of sustainability. The Toray Group consists of six core businesses and has 229 subsidiaries in 15 countries. Globally, there are more than 38,000 employees working for the Toray Group. Toray’s core segments are fibers and textiles, plastics and chemicals and IT-based products.
Integrated Denim Sourcing Debuts
A newly formed co-op of three denimbased companies is giving brands a new sourcing option. Called Integrated Denim Sourcing, the union includes New Jersey-based BPD Washhouse, the only full service commercial wet and dry processing washhouse on the US East Coast, which specializes in development; Grandtex Denim, an Indonesian denim mill that produces ring and rope denim and is known for its shade capability; and Eratex, a leading bottoms garment manufacturer in Indonesia that has done work for brands such as Gap, DKNY and Tom Tailor.
Integrated Denim Sourcing offers clients everything from development to finishing.
“I have been working extensively in Indonesia for the last five years. I liked the denim product I was developing for larger brands and the competitive price. I decided to pull together the best and plan a collaboration with BPD Washhouse,” explains BPD Washhouse owner Bill Curtin about how the union began. “We now can offer local development for international supply chains.” “Indonesia is set up for larger brands so those are the ones we are presenting our plan to,” Curtin adds. “So far the concept is has been compelling to many sourcing managers and designers love the opportunity to work directly on the wash at BPD. So we have a few of the big brands and retailers already on board. Indonesia is quickly becoming the new place for denim.”
Three Questions For… Claudia Kersten
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification is often reduced to stating that eco fiber was used in the fabric. However, as Claudia Kersten of GOTS emphasizes, it is about far more than that. The new GOTS 4.0 standard was released this past March. What are the most important changes? The important thing is: there are new rules which apply to how much non-natural fiber material there is in certified fabrics. Fabric can only contain up to 30% regenerated or synthetic fibers, which have to be environmentally approved and certified. GOTS is thus acknowledging recent findings which show that focusing strictly on natural fibers is no longer justifiable.
What kind of reactions have therebeen on the market? These new changes regarding secondary fiber use were welcomed because it means a larger number of fiber mixtures will qualify for certification. The further development of social criteria was also welcomed by the industry. Companies are only required to work in compliance with the 4.0 GOTS standard after the transition period ends on March 1,2015. At that point we will definitely know more about implementation. Many standards only give certification to raw materials such as eco cotton. In contrast to that, GOTS is a process standard, the raw ingredient on its own can’t be GOTS certified. Why not? Because ecological cultivation is not enough. If the rest of the manufacturing chain is not certified, ecological fibers could be manufactured, for instance, using environmentally harmful chemicals during dyeing or equipment setup, or manufactured under poor working conditions. (RH)
Wool: A Whole Wide World Versatile, Functional, Anallergic and Sustainable. Wool can be Worn Next to Skin and for any Occasion– Sports Included. And the Industry is Suddenly Catching on. Wool is having a moment. Designers and brands are finally realizing that wool is naturally anallergic, breathable, sweatabsorbing, thermo-regulating, waterrepellent, eco-friendly and versatile. For the recent fifth anniversary celebration of Woolmark On Stage for Milano Unica in September 2014, German designer Tillmann Lauterbach presented a 100% wool long bomber jacket and an optical effect printed wool total look: “I also created a 100% wool seersucker suit for summer and neoprenelike garments made with 100% carded wool for winter,” he says.Wool is now also employed for denim–as recently presented by ITV–and also for activewear with Safil’s wool yarns mixing extra-fine merino yarns with Coolmax.
Schoeller has developed materials doubled with ultra-thin bondings, added with nanotechnology microstrata or made with technical fiber mixes. Cordura has just launched its new Cordura Combat Wool fabric. It is aimed at consumers looking for fashionable yet functional apparel and combines the warmth and comfort of wool and the durability of Cordura. Designer Alex Valdman designed a special streetwear capsule collection including a multifunctional jacket and pant that guarantee protection looking cool and modern at the same time.
Zegna Group’s most contemporary Z Zegna men’s brand presented the Techmerino project for s/s 2015. It is a hybrid between tailor-made apparel and sporty-chic pieces made with 100% merino wool to be worn directly on the skin. It offers contemporary suits, tailor made blazers, knitwear, T-shirts and outer jackets but also sneakers completed with an inner lining in Techmerino.
Wool is highly versatile and can be 100% ecofriendly. Biella’s Tintoria di Quaregna wool dye manufacturer has developed the only line of completely naturally dyed wool fibers certified by Woolmark with the special certification “Woolmark–Natural Coloration Technology.” Yarns are dyed with natural dyes only, mostly herbs, and through sustainable processes. However, the resulting colors are 100% consistent and stable.