Can denim be more sustainable? Kingpins Show, an invite-only textile fair, says yes. Created in the Netherlands now with editions in New York and Hong Kong, the event still calls Amsterdam home, and the Fall-Winter 2020 edition that happened in the Dutch capital on April 10-11 is fighting to bring sustainability as a standard practice within the denim industry.
Sustainability in the Denim Community
Attendance to Kingpins Show is mandatory if you work in the denim industry. The trade show brings together a highly-edited selection of suppliers: the best mills, wash houses, full manufacturers, and trim providers from around the globe. It was also the first one to make sustainability a criteria to selected exhibitors. In order to improve corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in the industry, Kingpins Show made mandatory for its exhibitors to implement at least one CSR certification or plan, such as SA8000 (social responsibility), WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production), and BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative). For now, this is only mandatory for the Amsterdam edition of the Kingpins Show.
The initiative comes as a collective effort to make the industry more sustainable. “For example, in social compliance, we have found that virtually none of our denim mills have an SA8000 certification or a WRAP certification -- which is disappointing,” said Andrew Olah, founder of the Kingpins Show, in a press release statement. “We are unaware of any trade show where exhibitors are required to have any standards so Kingpins Show has decided to implement a new approach to make shows more than a window display".
Instead of making it an exclusive standard, Kingpins Show wants it to be a guide and support the denim industry (and their exhibiting mills) in their improvement in terms of environmental and social sustainability. That guidance and support will take part with Kingpins Show engaging exhibitors in discussions about standards and expectations related to certifications across categories, adding another sustainable layer to the long list of what makes the textile show unmissable.
Planet REhab: a capsule collection of global collaboration between apparel and textile companies using sustainable resources, such as raw materials and new technology for eco-friendly washing and low impact finishing, to bring change within the denim community. Credit: Courtesy of Lenzing
A collaborative effort by Lenzing, Tonello, Tejidos Royo, Officina+39, and Guatemalan designer Juan Carlos Gordillo to create a sustainable denim collection, exhibited under "The Sustainability Storybox" area. It was designed with Tencel™ and Tencel™ x Refibra Lyocell from Tejidos Royo, dyed with Officina+39 Recycrom technology and finished (sustainably) by Tonello, as they significantly reduce water and hazardous chemicals in the washing process. “The circular nature of the Planet REhab collaboration ensures that all aspects of the clothing are rooted in sustainability -- from the botanic origin of the fibres to the beauty of the natural world that inspired the designer’s garments. When companies embrace this approach, both sustainability and creativity will flourish in the denim market”, said Tricia Carey, director of global business development for Lenzing.
The Planet REhab collection between Tonello, Tejidos Royo, Officina+39, and designer Juan Carlos Gordillo: his inspiration was the soulful Latin spirit, with flowing shapes and deep blue colours -- a tribute to the ocean (note the lace under the sleeves that references the foam of waves). Credit: Courtesy of Lenzing
Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certification
A framework for quality assessment and innovation, Cradle to Cradle is also a non-profit institution that provides guidance to designers and manufacturers so they can continue to improve how their products are made. This certification was present at Kingpins Show in several suppliers and manufacturers such as Artistic Milliners, who focuses on zero waste pieces with C2C gold certified fibres, dyed with the brand's Crystal Clear Clean technology (that uses 70% fewer chemicals); and Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries (AFGI), who has developed fabrics with Double Zero technology (zero water dyeing and finishing, with no water discharge at the end of both processes).
Lycra: Recycled Materials and C2C
The company presented the Lycra fibre 166L®, awarded with a Gold Level Material Health Certificate by C2C. This fibre is produced in China, Singapore, and Northern Ireland; specially designed for robust processing performance in the manufacturing of stretch woven fabrics. It can be combined with natural or synthetic fibres as well.
The EcoMade technology, a sustainable version of Lycra fibres made partly with recycled fabric, was also presented at the fair. Lycra T400®, Coolmax®, Thermolite®, and Lycra Dual Comfort are the options available, and the T400® option allows stretch denim to be more sustainable, made with a combination of renewable plant-based materials (corn) and recycled plastic (PET bottles), and suitable for everything from lightweight jean leggings to traditional denim weights.
Technology for Softness
Credit: Image from Bossa Denim
Bossa's "Eversoft" promises to be the softest denim in the world. With their new finishing technology, they combine extreme comfort and extra softness -- a theme that expands for their fall-winter 2020 collection with their Techknit Family (an innovative weaving technology with a knitted look) and Dreamy Denim (Japanese "Miyabi" fibres create a fabric "finer than cashmere, smoother than silk, and warmer than wool"). The brand also presented a 100% sustainable fabric (called Future Denim) that combines sustainable fibres and clean dyeing techniques.
Garmon Chemicals: Sustainable Bleaching
Sustainable efforts from the supplier: Garmon Chemicals´ platform greenofchange® allows fashion companies to use a special hangtag should the production follow a few guidelines such as treating garments with Garmon's green chemicals and developing a finishing process that has an eco-friendly use of natural resources. Credits: Courtesy of Garmon Chemicals
Washing can be one of the most dangerous stages in denim production. Giving the strength of chemicals used, it can be a hazard for workers and the environment (if the water and the chemical solutions are not treated properly). This topic was handled by Garmon Chemicals, an Italian-based leader of chemical solutions for apparel, which presented its new line for eco-friendly bleaching, white&green, composed by two products: Avol Lime, classified at level 1 in the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC), is a neutraliser with crucial sustainable and responsible advantages, such as being safe for workers' health and effectively removing potassium permanganate and its residuous from the pieces. It is used as an alternative to other more toxic chemicals, not to mention optimised results such as better contrast and discolouration, and is active at room temperature. The company also presented Avol Oxy White, a bleaching agent that is an alternative to potassium permanganate itself, designed to obtain localised effects and perfect used look on the final product with high quality and to be an ecologically advanced product. Its benefits include being free from heavy metals and safe to handle, requiring no tumble drying or curing -- avoiding chemical pollution or contamination.
Transparency using technology: greenofchange® special hangtags have a QR code that, when scanned, gives information about the details of the sustainable footprint of the piece. Credit: Courtesy of greenofchange®
Trends Directions for Denim: Fall-Winter 2020
The inspirations and visual references behind the creative path of the Fall-Winter 20-21 trends presented at Kingpins Show [from left to right]: thick cotton and iconic workwear shapes define American Realism, a high-low styling mixes classic tailoring with denim touches from Business Casual, textile innovations and new blends prepare denim for outerwear in Polar Performance, and a patchwork of textures, colours, and washes build the universe of the expert millennial denim-head in Superfan.
If you're a fashion designer or buyer working with denim, Kingpins Show has one of the best trend reports, edited by Denim Dudes, to follow whilst creating and thinking of a new collection. According to their Fall-Winter 2020 report, available to purchase on their website, the trends are:
- American Realism, focusing on the generation Z's interpretation of denim's working-class origins in the US with pieces inspired in factory uniforms and dungarees with an urban touch.
- Business Casual, about high-low in styling, with strong 80s references like oversized shapes, luxury logos, and tailoring-inspired pieces.
- Polar Performance, a trend inspired by climate change and how denim can help protect ourselves during unstable winters -- mixing fleecy surfaces, urban utility adornments, and quilt denim.
- Superfan, pop culture references to please millennials and generation Z consumers, with a mix of patterns, hand-worked or artistic surfaces, and coloured washes.
Seminars: Exploring Sustainability and Information
Andrew Olah, the founder of the Kingpins Show, mediated a talk presented by Bossa Denim about the current state of affairs of the cotton industry, focusing on factors that are affecting price -- like competitive advantage against synthetic fibres.
As part of the new Kingpins Show's commitment to inform the denim industry about the importance of sustainability to ensure the health of the community, there were two seminars around the theme: "State of Global Cotton + Factors Affecting Price" and "Does Your Denim Mill Have Any Social Standards?".
The first one was presented by Bossa Denim and mediated by Andrew Olah, a discussion of the current state of affairs (including trade wars, housing, and cotton crops) affected the current prices (and consequently, the denim prices). As the cotton prices go down despite the low stock levels, the panel discusses the strategic reasons behind it, such as improving competitiveness towards the rise of polyester.
The second seminar was presented by Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) and Social Accountability International (SAI), a discussion exploring the need for CSR standards in the denim supply chain and what that means for mills, brands and retailers.
As the demand for sustainability gets more intense, initiatives such as the Kingpins Show's one are incredibly relevant to build relationships and a textile and fashion community that can change both industries for the better. Interested in a global community that allows you to easily connect to textile and material suppliers all over the world? Sign up to our platform to know more.