Discover the hottest novelties and opinions from the global denim industry as disclosed during the latest edition of Kingpins24 Amsterdam held digitally from October 27 to October 30, 2020 (also see here). Key topics of the four-day webinar were innovation, traceability, transparency and people's empowerment. SPORTSWEAR INTERNATIONAL selected some key statements from the event.

AGI will use Nature Coatings new natural origin biodegradable black pigments.
Jane Palmer, Nature Coatings: “We work with sustainable forests FCI and use their waste products such as tiny branches or bars and transform them into a black pigment which is a bio-based renewable alternative to petroleum-based carbon black pigment. It comes in a liquid or water-based dispersion form, or as a concentrated ink that can be mixed directly into existing formulations or used with existing or coating equipment as it’s very easy to use as alternative to the petroleum option. It doesn’t fade in the sun and is cost neutral...Its production method is very clean and has the ability to save millions of trees and the atmosphere, and it could be used for any other use when oil-based black pigments are used, be them metal shelves, glasses frames, ink for food packaging or auto applications.”

Cem Ozan Sari, Calik Denim: “We are launching a new fiber with a central core made of 100% recycled fibers and wrapped with a blend of recycled cotton and high-quality cotton. Calik can use from 42% to 50% recycled cotton when producing these fibers when mixed with elastane, but can use the double of recycled content if they are used for rigid fabrics. When comparing the performance between our 100% cotton fibers and those, which contain this special recycled inner core, there is no difference in terms of performance, quality or aesthetic as our fibers are all high-standards, plus the recycled material inside the fiber is certified. We can use any recycled fiber in this construction, like, for instance, Refibra.”

Steve Maggard, president, Cone Denim: “We want to be transparent about the actions that we are making. We follow clean rules about how we do business and act responsibly but we want to document and prove those claims to our customers and end-users. Thanks to our partnership with Oritain [editors’ note: a leading specialist in forensic science for verifying products’ origin] we are sourcing the fibers from high-quality cotton manufacturing regions and not from areas where force labor is exploited.”

Ben Tomkins, Oritain: “Our partners can reach the utmost transparency within their supply chain by using a solution coming for forensic science combined with statistical analysis. We can measure the actual product as cotton absorbs specific substances from the soil and its characteristics are impacted by local climatic and atmospheric conditions. These elements trace isotopes that we are testing for and they are unique to the production location in which that particular area where cotton is grown. So we are able to identify differences that are not only related to countries but also in terms of the regional and farmer level. We can also build database about how an origin fingerprint is created–as Cone uses Cotton USA–which cannot be replicated or destroyed.”

(Cotton) fibers
Photo: Kingpins
(Cotton) fibers
Jean Hegedus, The Lycra Company: “Garment recycling is a big challenge for the market when speaking of blended fibers whether it is elastane or other fibers. The infrastructure to realize circular economy is not there yet, but it is evolving. Garments with Lycra fibers can be very often recycled and particularly in applications such as denim. Many garment recyclers can handle fabrics with other fibers from 2% to 5% Lycra and generally speaking what happens with those fabrics is that they usually go in applications like automotive seats or industrial wipes.

In other cases the fibers get separated out depending on the recycling technology that’s been used. For jeans it's often the cotton that gets recycled and then Lycra is left as a byproduct. So we are really focused on what can be done with that Lycra that is left. We are also working on how can we extract Lycra from a garment at the end of garment’s life and respun that back into fiber. That’s technically the most challenging initiative and we are not going to have a solution tomorrow, but it’s something we are working on.”

Sebla Onder, Orta: “The new generation of consumers is pushing us to redefine the way we produce denim–and the brands as well. There’s a huge pressure coming from the young people, the Gen Z. It’s a huge industry and it’s sustainability's warm moment now. It’s a big industry employing 75 million people all around the world and we need 53 million tons of fiber to produce clothes for the whole world annually. And 10% to 15% is already lost during production and that’s also a big number and not everything of what we are wearing now ends up in the recycling.

Most used for recycling is mechanical technology. Garments are cut and shred into a fiber pile, a mechanical process that downcycles the fiber and if we as a brand want to use it need a high-quality fiber. For facing all of these challenges we created the new Golden Ratio guaranteeing a correct use of new and recycled cotton fibers, for instance. By incorporating recycled material into our fabrics and denims, without compromising look, quality, touch, longevity or performance, we can create that immortal premium denim product for our customers.”

A jacket from the MPS x Tonello collaboration
Photo: Tonello
A jacket from the MPS x Tonello collaboration
Piero Turk, denim designer and consultant for Tonello: “We worked at MPS (Most Sustainable Products), a joint collab between Kingpins and Tonello. They selected among the most sustainable fabrics and many designers, including me, used them for creative inspiring denim pieces with the aim to demonstrate that being eco-friendly can also mean offering highly creative products. Thanks to special Tonello machines and technology we can bleach down without using chemicals that are dangerous and use maximum 15 liters of water. Also new is Wake, a new technology through which Tonello dyes garments using raw materials like vegetable waste like flowers, berries and roots, without harmful chemicals additives.”

Ebru Debbag, Soorty: “Transparency matters. We try to have a holistic approach and redefine the company's vision and mission what we stand for around transparency. It is not simply a product phase but a system’s integrated point. It's like a global stakeholder’s engagement. As part of this we worked at a project of water re-utilization as part of our Alliance Water Stewardship as we see water as a shared responsibility as everything we do has to be evidence-based. We are also working with WWF on a project aiming to bringing more loyal projects and more agriculture-based incentive into Pakistan.”

Besim Ozek, Bossa: “Sustainability, traceability and transparency are like three sisters and have to be in your process at the same time. We are working at our project 'Towards Zero Waste.’ With the help of a local university we measured all of our water, energy, chemical consumption and all other values for producing one meter of denim. We want to reduce our figures and want to share such information in the market. In other industries they are already doing it and we all should start measuring and sharing these data too.”

Juaid Sadfar, Siddiqsons: “We are digitalizing all the data we collect about our product about energy, water and steam production because we are fully vertical in our set-up from the spinning to the end product. Jeanologia owns EIM, a technology that measures how many resources a company uses. We all have to be very transparent as these data are all online and Jeanologia can give access to our customers who can check our recipes and the values we achieve during specific production steps.”

Alberto De Conti, Rudolf Group: “Modern, real science is inextricably intertwined with environmental consciousness. We work to reduce the overall dependency on traditional and virgin resources. By 2030 we aim for a significant fraction of our products to be either sourced through paths alternative to the traditional petrochemicals, or by upcycling waste and byproducts from other industries.”
Tommy Jeans' Responsible Denim Program
Photo: Tommy Hilfiger
Tommy Jeans' Responsible Denim Program
Nicolas Prophte, PVH (Tommy Hilfiger/Calvin Klein): “In our PVH Denim Innovation Center in Amsterdam, we are constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of sustainability and aim to shape the future of the denim industry by minimizing the global impact on the environment but also taking care of people and the community involved in the supply chain. Our model is based upon three principles: designing our waste and pollution, keeping materials and products in use, and regenerating natural systems. We use organic cotton denim, recycled polyester stitching yarns, metal without electroblading and alternative solutions for leather patches. All styles are finished with low impact finishing processes such as ozone and laser, and washes are characterized by water and energy saving, and fewer and more sustainable chemicals. Tommy Jeans has set the goal to reach the 50% of our washes in a lower impact, which we are currently exceeding.

Our Scaled Innovations concept is made with Kipas 100% recycled denim. In 2019 Tommy Jeans became the first jeans brand to use 100% recycled cotton at industrial large scale. We use pre- and post-recycled cotton for fabrics made with leftover cotton, selvedge remains and other discarded remains all combined in an entirely mechanical process that uses less water and chemicals, reduces waste and generates less carbon dioxide. We started this with 100% recycled denim and also produced a new version made with 2% recycled elastane. New is a performance version with a percentage of recycled polyester for covering all our market requests.

We are partnering with all of our denim mills to provide us with a 20% recycled post consumer cotton in their blends as a minimum standard that guarantees to maintain our quality standards and look. Together we aim to increase this percentage to 30% postconsumer recycled cotton as a standard in our fabrics.

We also offer fully recyclable garments made with 100% organic cotton, rivets replaced with bar tacks, zippers replaced with buttons to be screwed off, leather patches replaced with fabric patches and stitchings made of 70% cotton and 30% polyester assuring recyclability and maintaining strength and durability of the garments.

We have also created the Tommy for Life project that reuses pieces of used Tommy Jeans into new ones.”

Michael Kininmonth, Tencel: “Tencel launches the Tencel Carbon Zero campaign as the group aims to achieve the carbon-zero emission goal. The first step is to achieve a cutting of carbon emissions by 50% compared to a baseline of 2017.

As the first cellulosic fiber producer committed to Science Based Target Initiative we want to drive a change for decarbonization within the fashion industry and are looking for partners who are echoing our values implementing carbon neutral practices.

In order to achieve these goals Tencel, while being certified in its action by an independent third-party entity (Natural Capital Partners), aims to focus on cleaner energy, more efficient production and activities on raw materials. Carbon Zero Tencel is also a new fiber offer to the market and an extension of the Lenzing portfolio of brands. With it we now offer a solution to address the urgent topic and challenge to reduce carbon emissions.”

Artistic Milliners has started a new program, Milliner Cotton, a massive program of training for farmers and cotton pickers not only about how they can farm better cotton but also about educating them about life skills including financial literacy. Part of the program also aims to increase their cotton quality standard.

Omer Ahmed, CEO, Artistic Milliners: “There is a plethora of sustainable cotton standards and programs in the market. Existing cotton standards are focused on a particular area for improvement e.g. in best management practices or at the farm level. There are none that views cotton supply chain as a whole ecosystem and proposes interventions based on the complex interrelationships of all supply chain players. Milliner Cotton intends to do that.”