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Sustainability & Innovation: The evolution of the Indian denim industry


India is the fifth largest destination in the global retail space and the Indian apparel industry, the second largest contributor in the retail industry. Basis industry statistics, denim is the single largest leading segment in the global fashion industry. The Indian denim industry, has been growing 15 percent annually for the last five years, is expected to be worth Rs 54,600 crore by 2023, according to experts.

Sustainability & Innovation: The evolution of the Indian denim industry

Right from celebrities in the 1980s and 1990s sporting a pair of indigo denims, which was considered more of a fashion statement, to its evolution today – where CXOs feel comfortable wearing jeans in more formal settings – the product has grown to fit into people’s lives. An organised retail sector, young population, online penetration of fashion retail and increasing popularity of engineered or distressed pieces are expected to continue to fuel the growth of this segment.

Sustainability – The Buzz Word

Denim is witnessing a revolution in terms of design aesthetics and accessibility to cater to the ‘evolving’ mentality of the customers. Brands are also experimenting with the sustainable variant of the fabric.

Numero Uno, one of India’s first indigenously manufactured denim labels, standing true to their commitment towards the global green movement, the brand recently launched its one glass water denim collection.

Narinder Singh, CMD, Numero Uno says, “We believe that we can create attractive looking denims and protect our natural resources at the same time. This collection is actually an initiative towards revolutionising the harmful impact of industrial wash processes of making jeans on our environment.”

Explaining this further, Ravikant Prakash, Design Head India, Arvind Ltd says, “If you take global average into account, it takes 70 litres of water to make a pair of jeans from denim. However, by using many innovative technologies which helps to reduce water imprint by 95 percent, heading down that persevering road, it is now manageable to bring down this production cycle to a single glass of water per jeans.”

Arvind has partnered with leading brands like GAP, H&M and UCB towards making sustainable denims.

Another brand that is betting big on sustainable denim is Raymond UCO and its range of garments include sustainable denims with BCI cotton, Fair Trade Cotton, Organic Cotton, Recycled Cotton, Recycled Polyester and their blends. The company also produces limited editions of printed, Jacquard and Selvedge denims.

“Sustainability is in focus for most of the brands. The use of post-consumer waste cotton and polyester, along with a clean Indigo dyeing process is something that we religiously follow so we can do our bit for the environment,” says Arvind Mathur, CEO, Raymond UCO Denim Pvt. Ltd.

The eco-friendly way of producing jeans-wear is the most recent innovation in this sector.

Innovation- The Need of The Hour

We belong to an era where embracing technological developments has become imperative. The brands are embracing technology to innovate the products. For example, Reliance’s R|Elan FeelFresh technology offers anti-microbial and anti-odour properties, as it is embedded with silver particles that inhibit bacterial growth.
Similarly, Arvind has introduced many firsts to the denims industry including various IP led designs and technologies. Last year, the brand launched ‘Gravity’, a range of new denims that embody power, stability, and comfort.

Apart from this, Arvind denim is making products using Neo technology which gives faster wash down and very bright shades of indigo, it means every industrial washing to achieve the desired wash design and it helps washing unit save water and electricity up to 30 percent.

“Casted coats are the recent innovation of Arvind which gives you a variety of products with different casts and shades. Recently, Arvind launched ikat denim, inspired by traditional ikat,” reveals Prakash.

Arvind is also a maker of a lot of products which contains recycled poly. Arvind is making products with recycled poly which decomposes in approximately 10 years.