Amid a resurgence in the denim market, this year’s Kingpins New York Show revealed an industry invigorated by the use of new technologies.

The show also put a spotlight on the emergence of international mills in the denim business with newer companies hailing from China, Turkey, Pakistan, Spain, Mexico and South America. When coupled with the latest offerings from the more traditional legacy mills, the result is an energized denim market poised to deliver more innovative and diversified products.

The timing couldn’t be better as consumers are demanding a broad palette of styles, finishes and cuts. Shoppers are strongly keyed into the vintage revival trend while also gobbling up distressed finishes — even as they continue to purchase top-selling skinnies. And underpinning the entire market is a consumer desire for comfort and fashion as well as for more sustainable products — especially among Millennials.

All of these trends were clear at Kingpins New York. Mills are leveraging technologies from Invista that includes Lycra Hybrid, B-Stretch and Tough Max, among others. Invista’s Coolmax and Thermolite were also prominent.

Lenzing Fibers Inc.’s Tencel and Lenzing Modal were also represented. And to showcase its technology, the company introduced a new collection called “4S” for softness, stretch, science and sustainability. The collection was illustrated by using three narratives, said Michael Kininmonth, product manager for marketing and business development at Lenzing.

The three narratives include: “dude ranchers” with references from the American West that feature embroidered looks; “tech artisan” that nods to vintage and authenticity, and “deconstructing denim,” which is inspired by 20th-century art such as cubism.

“This collection really represents a collaborative effort with mills and across the supply chain,” Kininmonth said, adding that stretch and softness have been prominent for the past three seasons, but now science and sustainability are a key part of the equation.

“We took a close look at the market, which was conservative, so we really wanted to open it up with this collection,” Kininmonth said. He added that the collaborators included Atlantic Mills from Thailand, Blue Diamond out of China and Turkey’s Orta Anadolu.

Blue Diamond’s line was developed by Adriano Goldschmied. Goldschmied has been a proponent of the importance of leveraging fiber technology as well as offering unique finishes that have sustainable processes. Among the international mills at Kingpins that use technology and blends of yarns to differentiate their products include Advance Denim Co., also out of China, and Calik out of Turkey. The look books from these mills were anchored in premium stretch for men’s and women’s that included a variety of finishes and distressed features.

Meanwhile, Artistic Milliners, based in Pakistan, was on hand to promote its mission of offering innovative products with a focus on more sustainable processes. The company recently tapped former Levi Strauss & Co.’s global fabric innovation manager Neil Bell to drive research and development.

At the Global Denim booth, Jake Fraser, from the Mexico-based mill’s sales and marketing team, said the changes in the market due to advances in R&D have “been remarkable.”

“Just look at the men’s segment, which evolved from mostly rigid denim just a few years ago to stretch in one and two directions today,” Fraser said.

Cone Denim continued its 110th anniversary celebration of its White Oak Mill with a separate booth where it was promoting whiteoakshop.com, which launched earlier this year. The online shop offers “select styles of premium selvage denims in smaller quantities,” the company said. The site also has “tools and information to educate newer designers about the unique intricacies of working with authentic vintage denim.”

Also exhibiting was Bayer, which was promoting its Bayer CropScience sustainable cotton, “e3.” The firm’s e3 cotton program centers on growing cotton more efficiently and “without harming the environment,” the company said. The program uses third-party auditors to certify a farmer’s commitment to grow e3 cotton, which is positioned as a seed that “produces high-quality fiber and yarn.”

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