Image by Rosie Fraser

HOW IS THE DENIM INDUSTRY becoming circular

In less than a year, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has welcomed 50 companies from across the industry to join their Jeans Redesign program. Jeans Redesign, an initiative from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is pushing brands and suppliers to make more sustainable, circular denim and therefore change the way they manufacture denim, as denim manufacturing is one of the most destructive in fashion, using enormous amounts of water and energy as well as harsh chemicals.

Both brands and suppliers participate in the initiative to reach the end goal of not just cleaner denim, but circular denim.




Launched in 2019, The Jeans Redesign Guidelines set out minimum requirements on garment durability, material health, recyclability, and traceability. Based on the principles of the circular economy, the guidelines work to ensure jeans last longer, can easily be recycled, and are made in a way that is better for the environment and the health of garment workers. The Jeans Redesign – created by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative – brought together more than 40 denim experts from academia, brands, retailers, manufacturers, collectors, sorters, and NGOs, to develop the Guidelines.


Confirmed participants to date include Arvind Limited, Bestseller (through the Vero Moda brand), Boyish Jeans, C&A, GAP, Hirdaramani, H&M Group (through the H&M and Weekday brands), HNST, Kipas, Lee®, Mud Jeans, OUTERKNOWN, Reformation, Sai-Tex, Tommy Hilfiger. The Guidelines have been endorsed by clothing collectors and recyclers Bank and Vogue, Circular Systems, EVRNU, HKRITA, I:CO, Infinited Fiber Company, Lenzing, Recover, re:newcell, Texaid, Tyton Biosciences LLC, Wolkat, and Worn Again. They have also been endorsed by the NGOs Fashion Revolution and Textile Exchange.


The Guidelines build on existing efforts to improve jeans production, including the open source guide created following C&A and Fashion For Good’s joint initiative to develop C2C Gold Certified™ jeans. The Jeans Redesign will drive others to join the project and produce jeans in line with the Guidelines at scale. The first pairs of the redesigned jeans will be on sale in 2020.


And although the current pandemic is creating unprecedented challenges for the fashion industry, in April, 17 new companies joined the project. We find the continued commitment of all the participants to this project extremely encouraging. As we emerge from this pandemic we will face a choice: to rebuild the fashion industry as it was before — wasteful, polluting and fragile — or to redesign it, and to create an industry that can thrive in the long term.

Francoise Souchet, lead, Make Fashion Circular




ABOUT THE GUIDELINES

The respect of the health, safety, and rights of people involved in all parts of the fashion industry is a prerequisite, along with working conditions improvement in manufacturing globally. Beyond this, the Guidelines provide minimum requirements for jeans on durability, material health, recyclability, and traceability.


Durability

  • Jeans should withstand a minimum of 30 home laundries, while still meeting the minimum quality requirements of the brands

  • Garments should include labels with clear information on product care

Material Health

  • Jeans should be produced using cellulose fibres from regenerative, organic or transitional farming methods

  • Jeans should be free of hazardous chemicals and conventional electroplating. Stone finishing, potassium permanganate (PP), and sandblasting are prohibited

Recyclability

  • Jeans should be made with a minimum of 98% cellulose fibres (by weight)

  • Metal rivets should be designed out, or reduced to a minimum

  • Any additional material added to the jeans, should be easy to disassemble

Traceability

  • Information that confirms each element of the Guideline requirements has been met should be made easily available

  • Organisations that meet the requirements will be granted permission to use the Jeans Redesign Logo on jeans produced in line with the Guidelines

  • Jeans Redesign Logo use will be reassessed annually, based on compliance with reporting requirements


News & Features


Today, 8th May Vogue Business featured a great article written by Read Rachel Cernansky 'The fight for clean and recycleble Denim' thats shares more details on this project and how some of the leading manufactures in the market are working towards a more circular system.


Click below to access the article




References


1/ https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/our-work/activities/make-fashion-circular/projects/the-jeans-redesign


2/ https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/news/make-fashion-circular-launches-the-jeans-redesign


3/ https://www.voguebusiness.com/sustainability/the-fight-for-clean-and-recyclable-denim

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