“Waste hierarchy” is a subjective term — but for Turkey-based denim ingredient brand Isko, its approach to waste is to use less, and use better.
That means the company taps into resources through reusing, recycling, reprocessing and recovering whilst increasing transparency and avoiding waste. Through its R-Two fabrics, made with a blend of reused and/or recycled resources, Isko aims to “maximize impact at scale.”
Here, Ebru Özküçük, head of sustainability at Isko, talks to WWD about its R-Two technology, its “waste hierarchy” and an enduring commitment to sustainability.
WWD: How is Isko’s approach to sustainability and responsible innovation differentiated in the denim industry?
Ebru Özküçük: Responsible Innovation, which stems from the values of competence, creativity and citizenship, is the all-encompassing vision that inspires everything we do. This approach tackles environmental and social responsibility as well, extending from processes to our business model, to the 25,000-plus products we have created over the years. As a core part of Isko’s DNA, it pushes us to do better and be better for the planet and its people, leading us to be an active example for the entire industry.
To ensure all of this happens, we have a strong and dedicated CSR team of highly specialized and skilled people who make certain that projects are aligned with U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, supporting the company in the development of a positive network of equal partnerships. We have proven over the years to be more than excellent in fulfilling the company’s commitment in the best way possible, setting targets and achieving concrete milestones in this area.
This is one of the biggest strengths of our approach: we work in close collaboration with partners to lead the change in the industry by virtue of our shared commitments and best practices. As one of our main goals is to pave the way for others, our efforts are aimed at openly demonstrating how great results can be achieved if your strategy and supply chain are developed according to a mindset that relies on partners.
WWD: Tell us about the Isko Selvedge range. What is unique about Isko’s R-Two technology?
E.O.: Selvedge is the most iconic and legendary denim fabric ever made, no doubt about it. Our goal for the development of our Isko Selvedge range was to preserve the authenticity and the hallmarks that made the fabric popular among denim lovers, whilst introducing modern attributes such as comfort, stretch, softness and, above all, responsibility.
The line includes 19 fabric varieties, with weights that span from 7.75 oz. to 14.5 oz. and elasticity options between 13 and 52 percent for outstanding recovery and holding power, and it is available in two washes, Italian Fashion and Japanese Vintage.
Most importantly, the range is developed with our innovative R-Two technologies. These represent our commitment to sustainability and rely on the use of reused recycled materials.
WWD: How does Isko define the “waste hierarchy,” and what does it entail?
E.O.: Simply put, waste hierarchy can be defined as a protocol of actions that deal with waste in the supply chain. To us, it means that we do everything we can not to create waste, but when the creation of waste is unavoidable, we strive to reuse, recycle, or recover wasted resources as well as energy.
The priority of the waste hierarchy is “to use less,” but reusing, recycling, reprocessing and recovering are all key actions for a better future and a better use of resources. Therefore, we are strongly committed to rethinking our production strategies in order to effectively tackle this critical topic, while increasing transparency and avoiding waste.
R-Two is a step in this specific direction as it effectively helps to decrease the usage of raw materials and improves our sourcing efficiency by using a mix of certified reused and recycled materials.
In the spirit of our commitment to Responsible Innovation, we keep investing in these fiber technologies and, by virtue of our research and development expertise, we can convert all our products into their R-Two version — maintaining the durability, look, and feel of the fabrics that our customers know and love.
WWD: What are some of Isko’s goals and ambitions surrounding sustainable denim?
E.O.: Transparency is as key now as it will be in the future. Awareness is growing at all levels of the industry. Consumers are involved in a search for more and more sustainable products, and people (especially the younger generation) have started acting, walking away from companies that do not demonstrate how they are working to be good corporate citizens. They know that every single choice has a social and an environmental impact and so, to save the planet, they make their voices heard.
The industry cannot walk away from this challenge, it needs to embrace an approach that is responsible both to the market and the planet. It is true that consumers play a big role in driving sustainability, but ultimately it is up to us as industry players to have the will and responsible vision to make the difference. Of course, there are many variables that need to be considered and many points of view.
This often spawns confusion and misunderstandings as to what sustainability really is and this feeds into the practice of greenwashing. Global standards and proven figures would benefit processes as well as decision makers. They would allow the industry to be equally measured on their responsible denim practices, which could then be communicated efficiently and clearly.
Within this scenario, collaboration is essential. We do everything we can to support our brand and retail partners on their sustainable journeys, helping them to communicate sustainability credentials correctly and efficiently to final consumers.
We feel it is our responsibility to provide industry leadership and to be a force for good and, with this urge for accountability in mind, we make sure to continue our improvement in part through external stakeholder engagement and partnerships with the most credible and leading organizations and experts in the world. We also take part and support the most authoritative global events where sustainability and the quest for new solutions are the main topics — whether they are online or offline.
WWD: What’s next for Isko?
E.O.: We have extended our range of targets across all aspects of our production, which will always be in line with Science Based Targets and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Our recent Bluesign partnership, for instance, shows that we are performing at an above-average level and, as a result, we are the first textile mill in Europe to receive Bluesign accreditation as an award for performing at the strictest industry standards.
This will allow us to carry on our vision of a textile and fashion industry with a future that pays more attention to people and the environment and to have a stronger, more positive, and long-lasting impact at all levels.
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