Archroma's EarthColors natural dye denim.

NEW YORK — The denim and textile sector are emphasizing sustainability in order to raise their environmental cred.

This was evident at the Kingpins New York denim-centric show last week at the Basketball City venue on South Street, where exhibitors stressed new fibers, collaboration and fabrics that take issues such as energy, waste and material usage into consideration.

Cotton Incorporated showcased environmentally responsible denim manufacturing options at the show. This included concept denim constructions from Cone Denim that utilize the cotton plant-derived Archroma EarthColors dye, as well as examples of denim finished with the Tonello NoStone process.

“Denim remains a key category for cotton and sustainability remains a primary focal point for the entire textile industry,” said Teresa Zugay, account executive at Cotton Inc. “The innovations at our booth address denim traditions and the future of sustainable denim manufacturing.”

Building on the September introduction of Archroma EarthColors dye derived from cotton plant materials, Cotton Inc. tapped the expertise of Cone Denim to explore the options of denim dyed with cotton-derived materials. The concept collection, developed at the historic Cone White Oak facility, presents three different denim base constructions — 3 x 1 twill, broken twill and basket weave — each with a range of washes, blue-colored fill and environmentally responsible finishing techniques such as ozone and laser etching.

Cone Denim was also focusing on the sustainability angle with its Natural Indigo collection also produced at its White Oak facility in Greensboro, N.C., The line uses denim fabrics dyed in 100 percent bio-based natural indigo made from plants farmed in the U.S.

Lenzing Fibers and Santoni were touting their collaboration called “DEN/IM, I am Denim” of seamless Tencel knits using indigo yarns.

“We feel it’s important that we’re providing supply-chain solutions.”

Patrick Silva Szatkowski, marketing manager for the Italian textile machine manufacturer, said the new Santoni SM8-EVO4J GG20 machine allows for seamless garment construction used for the capsule collection that offers body-hugging, comfortable, sporty, chic and trendy denim items from head to toe.

“There’s an expanded, modern definition of denim to include indigo knits,” said Tricia Carey, director of global business development at Lenzing.

Carey and Szatkowski noted that the collaboration, which includes yarn spinner Unitin and garment processing firm Tonello, is meant to be a “crossover product” for ath-leisure, innerwear or casualwear, bringing knitwear’s more flexible attributes to the denim market.

Szatkowski added that by eliminating the cut-and-sew aspect of making the garment, there are costs savings and reduction of fabric waste.

Jean Hegedus, Invista’s global denim segment director, was highlighting the new Coolmax Ecomade fiber made from 97 percent recycled materials.

Plastic bottles are diverted away from landfills and recycled, which reduces their environmental impact on the planet. Through a six-step process, this plastic is transformed into fiber that is suitable for apparel use.

Coolmax EcoMade technology is breathable and moves moisture away from the skin, helping the wearer stay cool, dry and comfortable, Hegedus said, adding that the performance characteristics are permanent and don’t wash out.

“Research shows that increasingly consumers are looking for added benefits such as cool comfort in their jeans,” said Hegedus. “Denim with Coolmax EcoMade technology provides both the performance benefits consumers are seeking and reduced environmental impact. So, for the consumer, it’s really a win-win proposition.”

Bayer Crop Science’s e³ Cotton displayed its sustainably grown cotton initiative that uses independent auditors that certify farmers’ commitment to grow e³ cotton in an environmentally responsible, economically viable and socially equitable manner in the U.S.

Cone Denim utilized the branded e³ cotton, as well, allowing consumers to trace the supply chain of their garments back to the cotton used in making their apparel and the conditions under which it was produced, providing an elevated level of transparency and accountable sustainability.

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