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The circulatory motion of Denim business

It is not unknown that the denim industry is not sustainable due to the vast amount of water consumption, chemicals and energy that goes into the lifecycle of a pair of jeans; from growing the cotton through to the dyeing process and manufacturing has a negative impact on the environment. Google search is showing some eye-opening data on the scale of ‘the lifecycle of jeans’.

Figure: Circularity has become an industry buzzword that has been cited as with less commitment to real change.

According to The Global Fashion Agenda, the amount of apparel waste discarded by consumers each year is 73% of the world’s clothing ends up in landfills. Nearly 3,800 liters of water are used and 33.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide are emitted per jean specifically. More than USD 500 billion of value is lost every year due to unutilized clothing and the lack of recycling.

The manufacturing process is still mostly based on a ‘design-sell-wear-dispose’ system. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s recent research paper, A New Textiles Economy points out that the linear system of ‘take, make, dispose’ in which fashion is primarily produced today, here raw materials are extracted, manufactured into commercial goods and then bought, used and eventually discarded by consumers.

Now the fashion industry is facing the question of higher ethical standards for being the second most polluting industry after oil, which has urged a greater momentum and activity over the past 5 years and finally happening in the sector now.

Denim businesses are already adopting a range of initiatives to shift the way they source raw materials, and alter how they design, manufacture, transport, retail, recover and recycle their goods.

Circularity has become an industry buzzword that has been cited as with less commitment to real change.

Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the world’s leading business event on sustainability in fashion. Passionate industry leaders provided a backbone list of 7 priorities to be followed by CEOs in fashion to future-proof their company. Of those 7, circularity was listed as one of four fundamental priorities for the real transformation of fashion houses.

This step is now featuring denim that’s designed, produced and created to align with the vision of a circular economy for fashion based on the principles of the circular economy. Ensuring jeans are used more, made to be made again, and are made from safe and recycled or renewable sources.

Organic cotton and recycled fibers that has been designed can be easily recycled so that they have the potential to be turned into new jeans once they can no longer be worn. The product is free from metal rivet, a common design element that is a great barrier to recycle. Labeling also includes guidelines on removing buttons and zips before sending to recycle as this product has another life.

Fashion houses are bringing the jeans made from 70-percent organic cotton, 29-percent recycled cotton and 1-percent elastin and the jackets are made from 80-percent organic cotton and 20-percent recycled cotton without compromising on the style and affordability.

Some brands are designing denim which can be recyclable by design till 2027, they are made from more sustainably sourced or recycled materials by 2030, and they will last longer by 2025.

Laura Balmond, Lead Make Fashion Circular at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation said: “The Jeans Redesign demonstrates that it is possible to create garments fit for a circular economy today, and this is just the beginning… Now the concept has been proven, we cannot delay progress. There is a need for industry and government to continue driving momentum, at pace and scale, towards a circular economy for fashion.”

Macarthur’s New Textile Economy is visionary about a new system for building textile on circular economy principles of restoration and regeneration. This ‘closing the loop’ model is rooted in reuse, eradicating waste by breaking down products at the end of their life cycle and turning them into the building blocks of new products, continuing the cycle as many times as possible.

The Ellen McArthur Foundation dubbed The Jeans Redesign Guidelines. They set out requirements on garment durability, traceability, and recyclability as well as material health. Many brands have already signed up, chief among them Tommy Hilfiger, Reformation, C&A and the H&M Group.

H&M has adopted a similar action with its Garment Collection initiative, which has collected 39,000 tons of clothing since it launched in 2013.

Last year, the Swedish fast-fashion giant expanded this campaign launched through it was brought its garment recovery campaign, with the aim of recycling 25,000 tons of clothing a year.

From fast fashion labels to high end designers, a large array of brands is shifting towards circular denim – NU-IN, Unspun and Frame are all committed to a conscious production.

A brand named G-Star launched ‘The most sustainable jean in the world’ featured with the first-ever Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold Raw for the Planet Indigo Fabric. The fabric uses DyStar’s and Artistic Milliners’ revolutionary indigo dye technology which uses 70% fewer chemicals and no salts that may save water and remain small water to clean and recycle.

Other businesses have focused on more downstream initiatives like garment recycling. Brands like Mud Jeans are gaining success at incentivizing consumers to recycle goods with store vouchers and other rewards. Mud Jeans has a business model to sell or rent jeans, at the end of their life and then making old jeans into new ones. 36 of Mud Jeans’ 40- plus styles are up to 40% post-consumer recycled cotton – twice the industry average. Mud Jeans has a design process based on a circular production, with the use of materials that are easy to repurpose and recycle.

Levi’s have sought to design sustainability into many of their products. They found the original jeans brand new FLX technology which uses automated wash processes that skip sampling, reducing resources and carbon emissions, and increase speed to market

While Swedish brand Nudie announces for its consumers to return their old denim pieces, Armedangels wants an extended life cycle for all products. For its collections, the brand uses 20% of recycled organic cotton from its offcuts and second-choice fabrics, resulting in a zero-waste production.

At Antwerp-based denim brand HNST, the collections are 100% circular and they have just introduced their first non-denim piece – a T-shirt that’s developed with the same opinion in mind.

In the sphere of supply chain Nudie Jeans is pioneering and significantly improving throughout the denim supply chain.

On sustainability strategy- the international retailers outlined plans across value chain for improving the lives of the people by stretching across the business. To improve the durability of clothing, the farms are bringing them that kind of raw materials and are renewable eco-finished metal buttons for production and manufacturing.

So there are reasons to be positive – if not complacent by connecting sustainability with creativity, up-cycling and transforming the forgotten and the ordinary into unique. There should be a mission of “do not produce anything new, but instead transform what already exists”. Government and production houses should now come align with the brands to save people and to increase sustainability.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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