Making a truly phenomenal denim is a complex process of finely tuned techniques. Long gone are the days in which we accept stiff, harshly dyed, virgin-cotton denim in our wardrobes. Over the past several decades, fabric technology has accelerated to benefit the sake of fashion, comfort, and yes — sustainability.
Yet while these technologies have evolved, it takes leadership and partnership to bring this unique combination to the mainstream denim market. Neither a denim brand nor a denim mill can do this alone. That’s why Madewell has worked with ISKO to create a denim with bluesign® approved fabrics.
Kutay Saritosun is the Director of Brand Services and Partnerships for bluesign technologies, one of the most accredited independent authorities in the world for sustainable textile production. According to Kutay, “The definition of ‘sustainable product’ is very broad, as there are a lot of elements that can make a product more sustainable.”
Committing to low-impact production begins at the fibre level. Choosing a recycled fibre, for example, reduces textile waste to the environment and dramatically decreases the amount of water used in the yarn production process since no water is needed to grow new cotton crops.
Safe chemistry is the other critical aspect of a sustainable textile product. “Chemicals do not magically disappear. In the case of dyeing and finishing, they go into the wastewater,” says Kutay. A denim brand is not directly in charge of the chemicals that a manufacturer uses, “but brands can work with supply chain partners who have implemented systems that minimize impact on people and the environment.”
And that’s exactly what Madewell has done with their newest launch. ISKO is the first bluesign® system partner denim mill in Europe. This was achieved through the implementation of the bluesign® system, which sets strict safety and environmental standards in the dyeing and finishing process. And now, working together with ISKO and bluesign, Madewell has become the first brand in the US to launch bluesign® approved denim. The achievement is both a celebration and a first step in the movement towards a low-impact fashion industry.
So what does it take to create and produce sustainable denim? The cooperation between Madewell, ISKO, and bluesign can be summed up in one word: teamwork. “All three companies worked together in harmony with dedication and with the utmost respect for each other’s needs in this collaboration,” says Kutay. “What we learned is that you can make sustainable jeans that look fantastic, perform well — and it can be done at an affordable price.”
As soon as we reframe our limitations as challenges, great things can happen. Working together with a determination to create better products, brands can discover new fabric constructions and finishes that may otherwise never have been considered. Collaborations that inspire such dedication are truly where innovation begins — and are something worth celebrating.
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