At Kingpins New York, tie-dye looks and sustainable stretch blends were all the rage, with an emphasis on all things alternative — think of hemp denim and “disheveled attitudes.” The event took place at Pier 36 in New York last week.
And every denim brand showing at Kingpins is inching toward sustainability in one way or another, whether it’s implemented in manufacturing processes, dyes, or the fiber itself. Tricia Carey, director of global business development, denim, at Lenzing Fibers, told WWD, “Brands are seeking ways to lower environmental impacts. With each brand having different goals for water, circularity, transparency, certifications; there are a plethora of questions to determine which product is best to suggest. Some brands have a circularity strategy of 5 percent post-industrial waste, so we can suggest our Tencel x Refibra made with a pulp from cotton scraps, while others are seeking water reduction, which can be achieved with Tencel Lyocell.”
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Trends for spring are less glam and sparkle, and more about comfort and splashes of color. Tie-dye denims were seen throughout, and the beloved American dyeing technique offers a refreshed, chic look with sleek black and white options, as seen in the trend area styled by LA-based Denim Dudes. Hemp denims were a more commonly seen trend at the show, as hemp requires a lot less water to grow compared to cotton, needs less land to grow, is pesticide-free, and even enriches the soil where it grows. Moreover, it’s an easy alternative for brands that are trying to pivot toward sustainability, but may not know where to start.
And for an industry so focused on employing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for denim products from conception to completion, cotton alternatives are a welcomed change. But while the SDGs have become a vehicle for change in the denim industry, they are not yet ubiquitous among brands. Carey told WWD, “We connect our company and products back to the United Nations SDG’s. Sometimes I ask which SDG’s a customer is focusing in order to direct conversation and get a puzzled look, as if I am talking about a disease. Education is essential to ask the right questions and make the right sourcing decisions. Using the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a foundation for business provides the basis for social and environmental sustainability, while speaking one common language.”
Katie Tague, vice president of denim development and sales at Raymond Uco Denim, noted that changes in consumer demand have helped drive sustainability forward. “Luckily, sustainability is still at the forefront of the show, and the mills showing all share that passion to put it as their top priority. The consumer is now starting to expect this, so thankfully more and more brands are able to get behind initiatives knowing it will have recognized value to their customers,” Tague told WWD.
Tague noted that stretch technology is a key pillar for spring trends, as comfort is top of mind for consumers. “Another trend across the show is stretch technology, pushing performance further and with innovative properties. For Raymond, we are featuring Siro spun yarns to keep the softest hand feel that everyone loves, but able to get the most authentic looks. We have been able to get a high twill character while getting a performance stretch. This is one interpretation of the trend we see out there in the market, along with innovations like Coolmax and Stay Black, among others.”
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