The global allure of denim is undeniable, with approximately 2 billion pairs of jeans sold each year. As eco-consciousness rises, so does the demand for eco-denim. Yet, there are many misconceptions both from consumers as well as industry insiders with regards to the eco friendliness of denim itself and the new fad of “eco-denim”.
From the consumer’s perspective, the term ‘eco-denim’ often conjures images of jeans that are entirely green, from the cotton fields to the retail racks. They believe that if a product is labeled as ‘eco’, it must address every environmental concern associated with denim production.
On the other hand, many textile industry insiders, including big brands and manufacturers, hold a different myth. They believe that while there are ways to make denim production slightly more sustainable, there are inherent limits to how transformative these methods can be. Rooted in historical practices, there’s a sentiment that jeans should largely be produced in the traditional ways pioneered during the era of Levi Strauss.
However, while many solutions on the market offer incremental improvements, there are transformative solutions like NTX® Eco-Denim that aim to revolutionize the entire jeans creation process. This article will delve into these myths and more, aiming to provide clarity on the true potential of eco-denim in today’s world.
Myth: Some consumers believe that denim, being a product of indigo-dyed cotton fabric, is inherently sustainable.
Fact: Modern denim production is far from eco-friendly. The high demand for indigo has led to the widespread use of synthetic alternatives, which are cheaper but derived from petrochemicals, resulting in toxic waste.
Furthermore, the cotton base of denim is frequently blended with synthetic fibers such as polyester and elastane, contributing to microfiber pollution. Each wash of these jeans releases microfibers that can harm marine life and disrupt vital ecosystems.
Finally, achieving the popular pre-retail faded look on jeans involves extensive water use, further exacerbating denim’s environmental impact. Thus, while denim may have started as a more sustainable fabric, the modern manufacturing processes often used have moved it away from this eco-friendly origin.
Myth: Many textile industry insiders believe that in order to achieve that true look and feel of jeans, manufacturers must employ the resource and energy rich processes that have always been part of making jeans.
Fact: The myth above is tied to a bigger industry myth about textile – that it is a sunset industry and everything that was going to be invented has already been invented. Nothing could be further from the truth. From our perspective textile is ripe for technological disruption.
Already many low scale production methods already exist for making true eco-denim products. They may be limited to shops that take actual recycled denim that is stitched back into second life again.
There are also some digital printers that can make small batch jeans. But until today there has not been anyone that can make jeans in an eco-friendly manner that can address the demand of the population – not at the right price and not in a way that addresses the fickle design preferences of today’s consumers. NTX Eco-Denim changes this and addresses many other jeans issues at the same time – like inventory management. The solution lies in the ability to do double sided printing, at scale, that can be applied and optimized for any type of fabric.
Myth: Eco-denim, or denim produced with environmentally friendly practices, is invariably more expensive than its conventional counterparts.
Fact: While sustainable practices can sometimes increase production costs, these costs are often offset by the long-term benefits and savings associated with sustainable production. For instance, using less water and energy in the production process can significantly reduce operational costs over time.
Moreover, the price of denim is influenced by a variety of factors, many of them hidden. The factors include the quality of the materials used, the complexity and quantity of the designs – which has a huge impact on inventory management, and lastly the brand’s pricing strategy. Therefore, while some eco-denim products may be priced higher than their conventional counterparts, this is not always the case.
In fact, as sustainable practices become more mainstream and technologies improve, the cost of producing eco-denim is expected to decrease. It’s also important to consider the true cost of denim production, which includes not only the monetary cost but also the environmental and social costs. By contrast, eco-denim aims to minimize these impacts, leading to a more sustainable and ethical product.
Myth: Eco-denim, due to its sustainable production methods, doesn’t have the same look or feel as traditional denim.
Fact: With the advent of innovative technologies like NTX® Cooltrans®, this myth is debunked. NTX® Cooltrans® allows for the colorization of nearly any fabric material without heat, reducing water use by up to 90%, and never compromising the engineered hand feel or functional performance.
NTX® has taken a giant leap with scalable panel printing, also known as engineered printing. This technology enables the application of designs directly to garments rather than just fabrics, unlocking the potential to produce NTX® Eco-Denim. This process ensures zero waste in terms of ink usage, as the chemistry is applied exactly where it’s needed, creating an efficiency that was previously unattainable.
The panel printing technology which can be applied to both sides of a fabric, along with laser treatment also offers the potential to replicate garment effects like simulated wear, distress, and an aged look with a precision that’s genuinely impressive. This means that NTX® Eco-Denim not only looks and feels just like traditional denim, but it also brings with it substantial environmental benefits.
The term ‘eco-denim’ often becomes a marketing buzzword rather than a reflection of comprehensive sustainability. This underscores the need for clarity and transparency in the industry, to ensure that we are moving towards true sustainability and not just settling for incremental improvements. As consumers, it’s crucial to understand the facts and make informed choices that contribute to a more sustainable future.