The denim brand G-Star Raw has just launched a new sustainable capsule, which is dyed using naturally sourced color pigments in a wide selction of forest greens, volcanic pinks and desert yellows for men and women.

G-Star Raw
Photo: G-Star Raw
G-Star Raw
The brand achieved this result by transforming naturally sourced color pigments with rich hues into dyes, according to a common practice that has been carried ahead for centuries as, for instance, Renaissance painters have been doing to obtain natural dyes for their art.

 




For this capsule, G-Star dyes the garments with pigments extracted from sources like volcanic rocks and soil according to a low environmental sourcing technique that, along with that, also uses cold water instead of the conventional warm water, cutting energy consumption.

 




The fabric used for this capsule is also responsible as the denim it's made from 75% regenerative cotton and 25% recycled cotton, according to the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute and awarded with a C2C Certified Gold rating, and acknowledgement based on the assessment of multiple levels of responsibility. Ensuring the safety of the materials for humans and environment, enabling a circular economy, generating clean energy, safeguarding natural resources, and embracing fair labor practices.

 



This newly disclosed project is part of a greater company strategy, managed by Rebecka Sancho, who joined G-Star a year ago as head of sustainability. The manager further explained the company's future aims and strategies.

G-Star Raw
Photo: G-Star Raw
G-Star Raw
How is G-Star aiming to lower its impact?
G-Star has many sustainable goals for the coming years. Primarily, we aim to use 100% of recycled, organic, bio-based and compostable materials by 2030. By that same year, we also aim to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.




During the last Milan Design Week G-Star presented a selection of design objects made by recycling old jeans pairs. What are G-Star’s specific targets in terms of circular projects?
We aim to further invest in partnerships with our suppliers to continue to bring state-of-the-art sustainable product innovations and further increase our initiatives on end-of-life efforts, as, for instance, we have committed to have 1,000,000 jeans repaired, reused or recycled by 2030.

 



As part of our circular targets, we aim to scale the use of fiber-to-fiber recycled materials with a focus on post-consumer recycling by using discarded G-Star jeans for new G-Star jeans.

 



Did G-Star also launch initiatives aimed at sensitizing the consumer in this direction, too? Which ones?
Yes, we did. We feel it is our responsibility to also make our customers aware of their responsibility. Before handing your jeans in for recycling, there are so many ways to extend the life of your garment.  That’s why with our Wear It Till The End Campaign, we wanted to highlight that jeans (and especially raw denim jeans) are meant to last a lifetime and only get more beautiful when worn and worn and worn again. 

 



With our Certified Tailors program, for instance, we wanted to make our customers aware that losing a button, or having a tear, doesn’t mean the end of your jeans. If they simply get them repaired (on us), their old jeans are ready to be worn again.

 



This summer we will also launch our secondhand platform, so that when their garment no longer suits their style, it can go to another G-Star lover. And if none of these options work, we also have a Return Your Denim program.

G-Star Raw
Photo: G-Star Raw
G-Star Raw
What other initiatives did G-Star launch or start in order to reach its sustainable goals?
In order to further collaborate with our sourcing partners, we recently hosted a two-day supplier conference, where we invited all our suppliers to our HQ office for alignment on strategy and to further improve collaboration. We can only make real steps, if we make them together with them. 

 



For instance, we have also developed our Better Mills initiative in Bangladesh. Earlier this year we started a collaborative project in Bangladesh focusing on improving the wet processing at one of our facilities in Bangladesh. Through this project we aim to actively support the factory to reduce water, chemical and energy impact. This will not only help reduce the impact of our products, but also that of other brands in the same factory. 

 



Are you also focused on supporting any project that promotes and supports the use of organic cotton?
Among the initiatives meant to increase our use of responsible materials, in 2022 we joined Organic Cotton Accelerator, the only multi-stakeholder organisation dedicated to organic cotton. As a global platform, we are committed to bringing integrity, supply security and measurable social and environmental impact to organic cotton. 

 



Being a denim company, we believe it is our responsibility to support sustainable agriculture practices. Through this partnership we aim to support and scale organic cotton farming, so that not only we can meet our targets, but the entire industry can move towards using more sustainable materials. And because of OCA’s ambitious Textile in Transition project, we can now build direct contact with the farmers, improving livelihoods and tracing our organic cotton right back to its roots.

G-Star Raw
Photo: G-Star Raw
G-Star Raw
Did G-Star achieve or gain any specific certification?
In 2018, we received our first Cradle to Cradle Gold level fabric certification and have continued to build upon this certification ever since.

 



We have also introduced several additional C2C certified fabrics and products, so that we can more easily scale the use of these fabrics and products throughout our collection.

 



In 2022, we also started the process to become Global Recycling Standard certified and Organic Content Standard certified. We aim to finalise both certifications by the end of 2023.

 



As some new European legislation like, for instance, the European Green Deal will soon become effective, how is G-Star preparing itself in order to be compliant and respect them?
We have been integrating sustainable business practices in our company’s strategies since 2006 and feel that we now operate according to a holistic approach to sustainability. 

 



In order to reach these goals as we have set specific policies and targets in place, we measure our current status and act in order to reduce any negative impact  while always trying to be ahead of legislation.  

 




Considering that we are trading across several different countries and producing in several other countries, the difficulty for us is to align with legislative differences. For example, several European countries now have different rules for recycling symbols on packaging, which in our case leads to use different packaging solutions to accommodate with legislations in different countries.

 



Will such laws be truly helpful, especially for the denim and textile markets, two industries still widely relying on offshore production and collaborations with non-European partners?
Legislations will create a more equal playing field within EU. It will bring the companies that currently don’t see a business value in investing in sustainability up to an acceptable level. If we want a sustainable outcome, we all need to do our part.

 



Can initiatives like, for instance, the Dutch Denim Deal, or the United Nations Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network involving different stakeholders and institutions, help to make a difference?
Our impact is a shared impact, and true sustainable change can only happen through collaborations. Our sustainability strategy is built on collaborations with industry leaders. 

 



By partnering up with ZDHC we can achieve the best possible chemical management in factories; by collaborating with the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute we can push the boundaries for circularity in products and through ACT we collaborate to achieve living wages in the supply chain and that’s just a few of our memberships. Such multi stakeholder initiatives are needed to make an actual difference. We will be most successful if everyone is aligned and doing their part, that goes for brands, suppliers, governments and consumers.

 



What is ACT exactly?
Its name stands for Action, Collaboration, Transformation. In 2019 G-Star becomes Associate Partner of Global Fashion Agenda. G-Star is the first Dutch brand to join this agreement between 22 global brands, retailers and the IndustriALL Global Union focused on transforming the garment, textile and footwear industry and achieving living wages for workers.

G-Star Raw
Photo: G-Star Raw
G-Star Raw
What could generally help the jeans and fashion industry operate according to the same criteria and lower its impact globally and avoid greenwashing?
Collaboration and innovation are the driving force behind creating real change, but we definitely need legislation to get everyone on board. And let’s not forget about educating consumers, empowering them to make better choices and take better care of their garments.





As G-Star Raw is involved with a lawsuit with Vert, a Bangladesh apparel manufacturer, what is the company's comment?(*)
We cannot make any statements about the details as long as the case is still under review by the court. What we can say is that we attach great importance to our relationships with all our suppliers and do everything we can to honor agreements made at all times. We have been in close contact with Vert to come to an appropriate solution together. We deeply regret that Vert no longer wanted to continue these discussions and instead took legal action.





(*) According to trade press, Vert’s complained about a 2018 agreement with G-Star Raw to exclusively produce a puffy jacket at a rate of 100,000 pieces a year until 2021. According to the manufacturer, G-Star would renege on its deal in April 2020, shortly after the coronavirus outbreak, by canceling some of the previously placed orders and scaling back on future ones. When in 2022 G-Star tried to intervene by reinstating some of the canceled orders, Vert said it was too late. And when G-Star Raw subsequently placed an order for 56,000 of the jackets with a manufacturer in Bangladesh, Vert considered it a “gross violation” of the three-year deal it had, it added, claiming that it’s owed more than US$17 million in damages as a result.

 






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