Sustainability might be well advanced in fashion, but customers are still not always fully aware of the boundaries it can break.
Germany-based, Italy-made brand Closed is to unveil what it dubs as the first fully biodegradable stretch denim collection developed in partnership with denim supplier Candiani, which provided the Coreva fabric, the result of a five-year internal research and development process.
The collection comprises denim pants and jackets for men and women, retailing at between 250 euros and 350 euros, and is to become part of Closed’s A Better Blue lineup of sustainable garments, which represents 47 percent of the company’s denimwear sales.
As part of its effort, Closed raised the bar higher by tapping into other eco-friendly ingredients, in addition to the Coreva fabric.
“For us it was very clear from the beginning that we had to find a way for not just the fabric to be biodegradable, but to have a full package, such as a full degradable garment and that took a bit of time for R&D,” explained Uwe Kippschnieder, denim specialist at Closed.
The company invested on developing biodegradable buttons, stitching yarns and labels with its other suppliers. In particular, zippers and metal buttons are replaced with vegetable corozo alternatives dyed with natural indigo, all seams are made with Tencel yarn, labels are crafted from degradable Vinatur fabric or organic cotton, and instead of a leather patch, the brand’s logo is lasered on the back of jeans and jackets.
Simon Giuliani, Candiani’s global marketing director, said it’s been a long and tough way to develop the Coreva fabric. “It was the first time that we decided to internalize the R&D [research and development] for an ingredient which we usually buy outside,” he said, noting the company could not rely on its usual suppliers for the bio-based, biodegradable and compostable elastomer derived from the rubber tree.
In compliance with European regulatory mandates, the Coreva fabric underwent several testing phases to assess its six-month biodegradability, that it is not releasing harmful compounds in the ground and that it is even fertilizing the soil, a very recent accomplishment. Next up for Candiani is proving that Coreva can be fully biodegrade in marine environments, too.
“There’s no plastics involved, no heavy metals, no toxicity and there’s composability, which means that we’re also testing to use the scraps to grow new cotton in order to really close the loop,” Giuliani explained, adding it was developed to face the overproduction issue affecting the fashion industry.
In 2019, the textile maker gained the patent for this technology.
The fabric will hit the market in 2021, but it was first offered to a slew of Candiani’s partners, including Closed. Giuliani touted the truthful and transparent approach of the apparel maker, praising it for communicating in numbers the progress made for each sustainable garment it sells.
The six-item Coreva-based range will be available starting Feb. 12 online and at the company’s flagships.
Capitalizing on the success of the A Better Blue lineup and Closed’s commitment to consumer-facing transparency, Kippschnieder offered that even if “there are probably not so many customers at the moment really aware of this problem of sending clothing to the landfills and how much that amount is every year, I also think there are customers out there that are already well educated and looking for solutions.”
To this end, Closed will continue to educate its clients by providing information on a dedicated website section and training its sales associates to inform customers.
“With Coreva we believe it’s also finally easier to communicate the value of this innovation: Of course, people are not yet very receptive,” offered Giuliani, noting that the qualities of the fabric can be easily understood by average consumers.
“Then you have to make sure customers do not misunderstand it — I got a lot of questions like, ‘What if I wear these jeans and it rains?’” Giuliani chuckled.
“We’ve started working on sustainability when green was just a color, people were just laughing as they believed clients didn’t care…but because Closed was one of the first to be wanting to do that, they had to communicate very complicated stuff — such as dyeing and sizing technologies — it’s not really sexy to talk about that,” he said.
“It’s a perfect time, it’s very time-sensitive because people are starting to read about sustainability in the newspapers and that never happened before, there’s a common sensibility that’s rising a lot,” Giuliani added.
The Closed A Better Blue collection that launched in 2018 covers 70 and 40 percent of its women’s and men’s denim offerings, respectively. Each Closed denim garment labeled as sustainable needs to fit in the low-impact area defined by the Jeanologia rating system and Kippschnieder said the company plans to shift entirely to eco-friendly denim products in the future.
“There is no way to go from zero to 100, so I think the best example is Closed also in that,” said Giuliani. “They started somewhere, they knew it was a journey and actually now this journey is revealing itself to be the right move.”