The German jeans brand Closed is very keen on A Better Blue, its sustainable jeans line that has recently released its “The Second Generation” selection to be delivered for f/w 2019-20. The first release of the program started from f/w 2018-19 and s/s 2019 from a few items treated and dyed with eco-friendly substances. “The Second Generation” is wider and also employs eco-friendly raw materials. Uwe Kippschnieder, denim developer at Closed, explained the aims of the project and where it will lead the brand.
How did the project originate?
I always thought that taking care about being more sustainable is extremely important. A couple of years ago we had the idea that our product range could start doing it seriously. That’s how we started our “A Better Blue” denim range. We know that denim and its environmental impact have always been considered very critical aspects. Today, instead, they have developed so many new possibilities to go greener that can be brought together and can be used to try to build some real significant project. Our vision is that for the next 4 to 5 years all the denim that Closed will offer is part of our growing sustainable line "A Better Blue."
What are the characteristics of A Better Blue?
It is based on three main pillars: dyeing, material and washing. In order to be part of A Better Blue a garment has to be more sustainable in at least two of the three characteristics.
For The First Generation selection we concentrated on the washing and dyeing, and started offering items only made with fabrics by Candiani treated with the Kitotex technology. We sometime used artificial stones to treat them to create a similar effect of pumice stones, but less harmful for the environment.
Among materials used for “The Second Generation” there are cellulosic fibers such as, for instance, Tencel, Lyocell, Modal and Tencel X Refibra. It also uses recycled cotton, recycled elastane branded as Roica stretch fiber and organic cotton.
These pieces are not treated with chlorine, potassium permanganate, stonewashing or other environmentally damaging treatments. They use kinder-to-nature methods like, for instance, bioenzymes, ozone, or low-impact oxidants. To ensure that each washing used on our A Better Blue garments is really a "low impact" -wash, the wash-treatments are analyzed through Jeanologia’s EIM (Environmental Impact Measuring Software), whose values from 0 to 33 are approved to be part of the A Better Blue program, not if they go beyond that.
All of the A Better Blue products employ 65% less chemicals, 50% less water and 25% less energy. Moreover, all A Better Blue items are 100% made in Italy, only made with Candiani Denim fabrics and treated by Italian top-quality laundries Everest and Itac. We mostly produce in the Italian triangle between Northern Italy and the Marche region.
For the rest of our Closed collection we mostly use Italian fabrics and have 80% produced in Europe. We choose to produce indicatively in an area that is near to us to reduce CO2 emissions for the transportation of our goods.
Do these eco-friendly pieces look different from the rest of the collection?
Our brand was founded in 1978, more than 40 years ago, by Marithé and François Girbaud. They are known for their expertise in denim; they invented our iconic X-Pocket model, still a signature and a bestseller for us. We still feel the same passion the Girbauds followed and we still consider ourselves forward thinkers and innovators. For instance, the Girbauds and Adriano Goldschmied were the ones who invented stonewash and the salt and pepper look though they were also great in finding alternatives for avoiding the use of such environmentally damaging techniques. This shows our company is still based on innovation and how we are focused on trying to find new solutions to solve the problem of the jeans industry’s impact on the environment.
Though we also want to continue keeping faithful to our brand’s DNA and worn-out image. So if we use a treatment that doesn’t meet the low-impact values recognized though EIM measurement, we cannot include it in our Better Blue category, but we will keep it in our main collection, while we will try to test and achieve lower-impact treatments.
Moreover, as the look and the aesthetic of the product is still the most important thing for us, when we adopt a new technology we have to make sure we get the right result and it may sometimes take longer time before we include it in our collection if we are not satisfied with it. When we introduced Refibra it took us almost a year to test how it performed as we had not reached the result we expected. For us it is important to focus on transparency and real innovation.
Are these items more expensive than your regular collection? And how do you communicate it to your customer?
Closed’s average prices range between €139 and €159. A Better Blue average item for men costs €179, though special items like an organic cotton green selvedge denim jean costs €259.
We think it is important communicating the consumer what you are doing as the more you let the consumer know about your effort the more they understand how a garment is made and differs from a fast fashion item. We also explain all the characteristics of these garments through a print on the pocket lining on the inner side of the garment.
Moreover, in a few weeks, a section of our website will list all the names of our suppliers to make this even more transparent.
How is the A Better Blue range selling?
Results are very good as out of our total sales of the f/w 2019/2020 men's collection 45% are from A Better Blue. We sell it especially to men, as the collection is more compact than the women’s, and it sells especially well in the Scandinavian countries, but also the Netherlands, DACH countries, Italy and France.
What are your aims? Would you like to offer 100% of your collection product according to this philosophy?
For us it was very important to start with denim and now we want to spread the whole idea of these new fibers or maybe new dyeing methods in the whole collection. We don’t consider Closed as an eco company, but step by step we are moving forward and may be getting better.