Saitex, one of the most sustainable large-scale denim garment producers whose portfolio of brand partners includes Everlane, G-Star Raw, Madewell, J Crew, Edwin USA, Target, Outerknown, Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein Jeans, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap and APC, has recently opened a new fabric mill at about 40 minutes from its own cut and sew facility in Vietnam, outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
Drying jeans at Saitex factory in Vietnam, Ho Chi Min City
The setting up of the mill aims to grant higher control and traceability of its own garments’ life cycle, while getting increasingly integrated with its other connected companies–including a recently opened Saitex USA garment manufacturer in Los Angeles.
The new mill will produce two million yards of fabric per month and 750 tons of yarn per month, and is employing 630 people, expected to become 1,000 when it will work at full capacity. It also plans to reserve 20% of its jobs to people with disabilities.
The new facility occupies an area of 100,000 sq. meters, 40% of which are reserved for farming, and hosts activities that include spinning, weaving, dyeing, and finishing fabric sourced from responsible cotton producers.
Part of the company’s integrated strategy–it’s called “from seed-to-shelf”–includes close partnerships with cotton farmers, the use of eco-efficient spinning, weaving, and dyeing machinery, and incorporates a production creation center (PCC) with the capability to create and prototype garment samples on-site. This way, through Saitex’s vertically integrated operations, brand partners can find more sustainable and transparent processes, globally.
Dyeing machines at Saitex denim mill
The Saitex mill was constructed with a roof that reflects sunlight, installed natural ventilation, and used materials that adhere to LEED Gold Certified specifications. Its solar panel system consists of nearly 15,000 panels with 3-4 MW capacity, which equates to over 2,000 tons CO2 reduction yearly. Additional energy is derived from industrial sludge, which is used to generate 40% of the facility’s steam power. Greywater is collected from the industrial park, runs through a custom reverse osmosis ultrafiltration recycling system then is used in the production processes, allowing the mill to operate without the use of freshwater; achieving a closed water loop.
Dyeing machines at Saitex denim mill
Additionally, rainwater is collected for use in flushing factory toilets, irrigation and the sprinkler system. Within the mill compound, a hydroponic farming system and organic farming fields will occupy 40% of the space and will produce six tons of clean vegetables per year to feed employees and local communities.
Furthermore, 6,000 trees were sowed in the industrial park and 50 hectares of mangroves were planted in the country to offset carbon emissions, helping to progress the Saitex Mill towards carbon neutrality by 2025.
The new mill is also in the process of obtaining ZDHC, Oeko-Tex, GOTS, GRS, B Corp., and LEED certifications and has future plans to apply for Bluesign and Fair Trade status.
Spinning machines at Saitex denim mill
Cotton fibers are spun, dyed, woven and finished according to some highly advanced and sustainable technologies on the market. Spinning capabilities, for instance, allow for blending different materials, use dual-core, multiple-core and Siro Spun technology.
Dyeing takes place at the yarn phase which uses the Smart-Indigo system to develop hydrosulfite-free indigo dye baths that only use indigo pigment, caustic soda, water and electricity. The Smart-Indigo system utilizes an electrochemical dye bath preparation that emits 90% less CO2, consumes 70% less energy and 30% less water where the only waste product is oxygen.
Smart Indigo dyeing system at Saitex denim mill
The mill uses Karl Mayer rope dyeing machines which use less energy to achieve the same result by dipping the rope into fewer dye baths than with standard machines, which translates into a minimum 30% reduction in indigo and chemical usage.
Finishing mechanisms, also using the latest technology, include singeing, mercerizing, pad batch dyeing, pad steam dyeing, stentering, sanforizing and fabric tumbling.
Quality control at Saitex denim mill
The mill’s machinery also uses less energy, fewer chemicals and less water, creating the most environmentally friendly processes with capabilities. “It has been our long-term vision to close the loop on our operations. With the opening of the mill and the upcoming launch of our textile upcycling facility, Stelapop, our vision will be complete,” states Saitex CEO and founder, Sanjeev Bahl. “We will close the circle, allowing us to provide unprecedented transparency in denim production and the ability to turn apparel and textile waste into high-quality goods,” he added.
Sanjeev Bahl, founder, Saitex/Rekut
Despite the global pandemic and the recent difficulties of the market, Saitex managed to realize a fully vertical and circular operation. The introduction of the Saitex Mill greatly shortens the length of its supply chain, eliminates costly middlemen and provides a transparent and traceable product from “seed to shelf.”
A hanger from the Stelapop project obtained from recycling denim leftovers
Together with Saitex Vietnam, Saitex USA, a denim garment manufacturer recently opened in Los Angeles, Saitex Mill, and Stelapop the organization will complete its vision of vertical operations that also close the loop on apparel waste, furthering the circular economy.