Sustainable Denim Production: An Interview with Advance Denim
You’d be hard-pressed to find a closet without a single piece of clothing made from denim. According to FashionUnited Business Intelligence, 1.25 billion jeans are sold annually worldwide, with women owning 7 pairs of jeans on average and men owning 6 pairs. As one of the most purchased fabrics on the planet, denim has a huge impact on our resources. It takes 20,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of cotton for a single pair of jeans. Factor in the hazardous health effects caused by indigo dyeing and denim finishing, and you have a basic wardrobe staple that affects both people and planet at a very large scale.
One of the mills investing in innovative technology to help lower the environmental impact of denim manufacture is Advance Denim, a core exhibitor at our recent Future Fabrics Expo in January 2019. Founded in 1987 in China, Advance Denim is a key player in the industry with an annual output of up to 40 million yards of fabric. With sustainable initiatives such as aniline-free dyeing with Archroma’s Denisol® Pure Indigo 30 liq, Zero Cotton fabric made with TENCEL™ fibres, and Greenlet™ ecore yarn, the company’s commitment to constantly improve their production processes and techniques dispels several myths around sustainable manufacture in China.
For our latest Masterclass, we asked Enrico Forin from Advance Denim to be our guest speaker and discuss the realities of producing more sustainable denim in China, as well as the changes the industry has seen within the past few years. We caught up with Forin after the workshop to learn a little more about the company and their ethos.
The Sustainable Angle: What are the main products Advance Denim creates, and what key aspects make them more sustainable than conventionally-produced denim?
Enrico Forin: Since 1987, Advance Denim has been producing a wide range of indigo products, from traditional denim, intricate jacquards, smooth flexible coatings to real indigo knits. Currently, Advance Denim is focusing considerable efforts to produce a wide array of fabrics in the most sustainable way possible, by applying creative and technical expertise to solve manufacturing challenges affecting our natural resources, such as water, energy and waste. We are planning on reaching our sustainability goals by using eco contents to build the fabrics as well as cleaning up the entire manufacturing process.
TSA: How can fashion have a positive impact on nature and communities?
EF: More and more fashion brands now are sensitive to the ecological impacts of the fabric, accessories and trims that make up their collections. These brands are now making a conscious effort to source recycled materials wherever possible. This is already a considerable step forward and will have a positive impact since less natural resources will be consumed. This reduced consumption of raw materials will consequently benefit communities, especially in locations on the planet where raw materials are scarce.
TSA: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry?
EF: I don’t see any major obstacles that could block the improvement of sustainability in our industry. Since there are sustainable chemicals, equipment and technologies that are currently available in the market, it is up to each company to invest in a sustainable future. We believe that it is just a matter of ethics and social responsibility.
TSA: What are the goals and plans moving forward for Advance Denim?
EF: Advance Denim has a detailed and aggressive sustainability initiative. We are planning to have green fibres account for 90% of our products in the next 5 years. We will also be investing in new technologies throughout the entire production line that will further reduce water and energy consumption. Though Advance Denim will be making a considerable investment in new sustainable technologies, we are attempting to limit the effect that these investments have on the cost of the final product, and in some cases, the effect may be cost-neutral.
For more information about Advance Denim, visit http://www.advancedenim.com/