Handmade Selvedge denim from Bangladesh is creating highest standards of environmental and social sustainability

Kayes Mahmud       
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Recently Hessnatur, an organic brand from Germany together with the partners German Development Association (DEG) and Classical Handmade Products (CHP) has introduced high quality and ecologically sustainable fabrics for selvedge denim at Nilphamari in Bangladesh as alternative to fast fashion. These selvedge jeans are handmade from natural materials as its raw materials bio cotton and indigo plant are cultivated under fair conditions as well as in its natural environment.

Specially installed for the project has an own dyeing factory and a weaving facility with classical looms. Where a man can dye only one kilogram of yarn by hand every day, on the other hand, a man can weave only five meters of cloth a day in traditional handloom. This idea is to promote traditional craftsmanship with regard to ecological and social sustainability as well as to create jobs in one of the least developed areas of Bangladesh.

Figure 1: Officials from German Development Association (DEG) and Classical Handmade Products (CHP) at Nilphamari, Bangladesh.
Figure 1: Officials from German Development Association (DEG) and Classical Handmade Products (CHP) at Nilphamari, Bangladesh.

Selvedge comes from the English self-edged and stands for the original selvage of the fabric. A Selvedge jeans can be seen on the outer seam. Here the two original selvedges meet each other on the inner side of the pants. This looks not only beautiful, it is also particularly durable, as these edges cannot fray. The selvedges are straight, the jeans are also available in a straight unisex cut. The Hessnatur Selvedge Jeans is a favorite for all who appreciate tradition and craftsmanship and the selling price is € 199.00 in Germany.

Every jeans is woven on traditional Japanese hand-looms: the fabric is softer, no sizing agents are used, since the warp threads are less stressed than in industrial processing. It takes one weaver around 10 days to prepare and weave 35m of denim fabric. 5 weavers are working for the project in total. Therefore, the process is really slowing the production down, focusing on achieving high quality instead of big quantities.

Figure 2: Hessnatur weaving unit was specially built for the project and equipped with second hand loom.
Figure 2: Hessnatur weaving unit was specially built for the project and equipped with second hand loom.

With the Hessnatur Selvedge Jeans they would like to set a mark. Rather, it is about job creation in one of Bangladesh’s least developed areas and the preservation of traditional crafts. It is also about giving the people of the so-called global face, getting them out of anonymity and telling their stories. Throughout the whole project time, the workers and management of CHP received regular trainings through consulting on different topics like Social Standards, Workers Safety, Chemical Management and Environmental regulations.

Figure 3: Hessnaturn gives high importance in ensuring workers safety, chemical management and environmental regulations.
Figure 3: Hessnaturn gives high importance in ensuring workers safety, chemical management and environmental regulations.

In addition to a salary above the minimum wage, CHP pays the employees twice a year a major religious holiday bonus. Besides, CHP offers additional services such as medical care, childcare or the delivery of hygiene foods.

By combining desirable fashion with sustainable actions, Hessnatur has become a global pioneer in terms of improving ecological and social standards in textile production. They have chosen Bangladesh as it has become a major sourcing hub for trendy denim products for international retailers for its competitive pricing and it also overtaken China to become the largest denim supplier to the European Union. Therefore, this type of project can lead Bangladesh denim sector ahead in social, economic and environmental sustainable manners.

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