Talking Sustainability And Innovation In Denim During World Fashion Convention

Zeist, The Netherlands — October 10, 2013 — During the 2nd day of the World Fashion Convention,
jeans took center stage. More precisely, the global corporation to make jeans a more sustainable
product was explained. Mariette Hoitink of Amsterdam-based House of Denim; Andrew Olah, founder of
the renowned Kingpins tradeshow and Vincent Qin of the Chinese denim fabric supplier Prosperity
showed among them a large array of innovations that are aimed at reducing the environmental impact
of denim products. ‘Recycled’ water for jeans wet processing; laser and ozone in laundry; numerous
alternative raw materials and alternative sources of energy — which are more sustainable — are all
already available to reduce the impact on the environment of a pair of jeans.

And this is highly necessary because, especially in jeans, measures to improve sustainability
are crucial. Andrew Olah showed that denim is very taxing on the environment. If indigo was
invented today it would probably have been discarded because it consumes relatively so much water.
Added to this, cotton is a very water intensive fiber and 35% of the world’s cotton is used in the
manufacture of jeans.

The jeans case showed how buyer — supplier alliances have emerged to create the necessary
change. Innovations are often bought from upstream but they commonly require collaborative
development. Prosperity has collaborations with Tencel, Clariant, Olah Inc and with Jeanologia and
it has set up an innovation forum. House of Denim is an Amsterdam initiative bringing together
brands such as G-Star, Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s, Denham and Scotch and Soda. Its ‘brighter blue’
initiative will center around a research lab in Amsterdam aimed at sustainability. Its Jeans School
is the first dedicated jeans school which also has sustainability featuring big in its curriculum.

But Andrew Olah made quite clear that the effect of all of this innovation and cooperation is
still too little. The sustainable innovations are simply put used in too small a percentage of
jeans. Connecting the efforts taking place in the centers of the jeans industry in the US, Europe
and China would certainly help. But for the jeans industry as a whole to make big steps towards
more sustainability the best way is setting common goals and an ambitious time path to get there.

Posted October 15, 2013

Source: World Fashion Convention