More and more eco-conscious innovations are seeing the light of day and the circular economy is surely one of them. The fashion industry is used to a linear production, which by definition ends with garments in landfills. But many shifts have occurred over the last few years to offer a more sustainable and ethical approach to a product’s life.
According to the United Nations Environment Assembly, it takes 3,781 litres of water to create a pair of jeans, making circular denim necessary to build a more responsible industry. The goals of a circular production are straightforward: it aims at reducing the amount of resources used to produce denim and being more conscious about the materials chosen. It also enables products to have an entire lifecycle, with the possibility of being reused and recycled. Indeed, the manufacturing process is still mostly based on a ‘design-sell-wear-dispose’ system.
Circular denim offers a new way of making jeans and other denim pieces, but this has to start from inception. Mud Jeans has understood the challenge: its design process itself is based on a circular production, with the use of materials that are easy to repurpose and recycle. But when it comes to being eco-conscious, the manufacturing process and fabrics aren’t the only factors to consider - buttons, tags and pocket linings need to be included, too.
The Jeans Redesign Guidelines
To help brands to make the right decisions, the Ellen McArthur Foundation has released practical guidelines, dubbed The Jeans Redesign Guidelines. They set out requirements on garment durability, traceability, 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.
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.
While Swedish brand Nudie encourages its consumers to return their old denim pieces, Armedangels wants an extended life cycle for all products. For its collections, the brand uses 20 percent 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 percent circular and they’ve just introduced their first non-denim piece - a T-shirt that’s developed with the same criteria in mind.
New materials are also entering the industry: brands Taifun and Samoon of Gerry Weber design and manufacture denim jeans that are made out of 39 percent of coffee yarns.
Finally, manufacturers are shifting gears, too. Offuel® is the first line of finishing agents for denim that’s made of renewable materials and weaving solutions manufacturer Itema has introduced its new iSaver device at Première Vision two weeks ago - it enables denim weavers to save up to 1000kg of cotton per loom per year.All pictures courtesy of the brands