Specialized denim manufacturer Bossa recently held its second of a series “A New World Sustainable Denim Program” in Stra, near Venice, Italy in June. This event followed a previous one held in Amsterdam in May 2019 (read here) and aimed to inform key Italian players and brands of denim market and bring attention to the importance of taking action against conventional and highly polluting jeans industry practices.
The happening gathered together about 120 insiders in Villa Foscarini, a historic Venetian villa from the 1600s, and involved speakers from the denim and jeanswear value chain.
Welcoming and opening the working session was Tayfun Akbay, deputy general manager, Bossa. Alternating on the stage were also Piero Turk, denim designer and consultant for Bossa; Massimo Falaguasta, denim washing expert and also consultant for Bossa; Samuel Trotman, denim specialist, Denim Dudes; Andrea Rosso, creative director licenses for Diesel and founder Myar; Alberto De Conti, head of Fashion Division, Rudolph Group, and Serena Chironna, membership coordinator, BCI (read here). Moderating the talks was Maria Cristina Pavarini, senior features editor, Sportswear International Magazine.
Here are some highlights….
Tayfun Akbay, Bossa:
“Bossa is one of the oldest textile manufacturers in Turkey as it was established in in 1951. We have always tried to keep our market leader position while hyping our innovative quality products and keeping our focus on customer satisfaction. Despite the recent market contraction, in 2018 we increased our productive capacity by about 25% and our export by 30%. And the demand for sustainable products had a major impact on this growth.”
“The world cotton production is about 26 million tons. Eighteen percent of cotton production is used for denim production, which means that the denim industry is one of the biggest cotton consumers.”
“In order to produce a pair of jeans we use a kilo of cotton that gets transformed into 1.4 meters of denim. To grow this quantity of cotton it may request from 8,500 to 23,000 liters of water. To produce 1.40 meters of fabric we use 90 liters of water and to wash a pair of jeans we need 60 liters of water. We must find ways for saving all this.”
“We buy more clothes than we can actually use. These items that end up in the landfills often are not biodegradable and take centuries to break down. More than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated each year in the United States, and the amount has doubled over the last 20 years.”
“Recycling is important because the world is not infinite. From 2016 to 2018 we have increased the use of recycled denim. Starting from 2018 Bossa has become a zero-waste company using over two million kilos of our post-production waste.”
“We can offer different solutions for recycling pre- and post-consumer denim garments (though we prefer not to use more than 30% of fiber obtained from recycled garments to guarantee a certain strength of the fiber). Among our sustainable products, we have also developed ‘Denim is Reborn in Bossa,’ a post-consumer denim recycling concept. We are collecting old jeans, send them to a partner company for shredding and use the shredded pieces for making new fabrics. Out of 1,000 old denim jeans we produce 2,000 meters of 20% PCRD Blended Fabric.”
Piero Turk, denim designer:
“I have a simple dream. I wish the denim and the jeanswear industry were able to pollute less by saving resources and respecting its workers.”
“If one of us entered an Italian laundry and saw its workers barefoot one would be aghast not because the laws prohibits that but for the thing itself. If you see that in some remote country–even if that is not forbidden by their law–your sensitivity should make you feel aghast, too. It’s a matter of moral independently from laws.”
“A simple decision can change the world.”
“In order to save huge quantities of water it would be enough that every jeans company asked its supplier: ‘I want to use a 5% of recycled denim for all of the denim I buy from you.’ Apart from specific products, it would not have consequences on the result in terms of product, quality, price and profit, but would save a huge amount of water.”
“I take a shower every day as I want to feel fresh and clean, not because I want to tell it. I am not going around wearing a T-shirt saying: ‘This morning I took a shower.’ I simply do it. Using sustainability as a marketing tool will not lead us anywhere.”
“Best would be we all started collaborating with our own suppliers and tried to use more flexible articles that can be used for both skinny and wide-leg trousers or with enough slub-effect that when washed give a vintage image, but can also look great when kept dark.”
Massimo Falaguasta, washing expert:
“Speaking about sustainable washes and treatments there are two fundamental aspects: chemistry and technology. Less harmful chemistry (liquid enzymes, resins without formaldehyde and alternatives to potassium permanganate) and technology (ozone, nebulization and laser) can help reducing the impact of jeans production. Laundries have to invest in these new treating techniques, but they cannot do all this alone. They need brands’ support. This means that prices will be higher. As it happened in the food market, also our industry has to take this direction. If the jeanswear market wants to be sustainable are brands ready to help? If we want to offer less harmful products we don’t need to make a show out of that but decide to do it and support the industry.”
Samuel Trotman, Denim Dudes:
“Among consumers’ attitudes which are most focused on a sustainable approach we recognize ‘The New Aspiration.’ In response to growing criticism of its unethical practices, the luxury fashion industry is rebranding itself with a more conscious and visionary approach to manufacturing and marketing, adding to the great sense of what luxury should stand for. In 2020, the notion of quality over quantity–less is more–will be the reigning ideology. Also interesting is the Gen-Z target group, we call ‘The Fluid Generation.’ They are smarter than Boomers and more ambitious than Millennials. They are the industrious generation that is eager to build a better planet. A third consumer group is ‘Vintage Boom.’ From a once-modest subculture of aficionados and bargain hunters, the vintage market has exploded and it has become more about rarity, exclusivity and accessible luxury.”
Andrea Rosso, creative director of Diesel licensed products, and founder, Myar:
“Myar is made by recycling military apparel pieces into new items. Each vintage piece is different from the other and when recycled can lend itself to many different interpretations and combinations. Moreover, as there are so many corps–Navy, Air Force, and different career degrees–there are so many military clothes from all over the world that offer themselves for endless possibilities.”
“By customizing garments we give a completely different and more contemporary look. This way we give longevity to a garment and let it tell a new story.”
“What we do is take something from the past and bring it to the present. We can also transform a garment as a military one that has a negative connotation and transform it by giving it a positive one.”
Alberto De Conti, Rudolph Group:
“There is not bad chemistry nor good chemistry, but stupid and intelligent ones. Stupid chemistry is when, next to what you buy–for instance, caustic soda–there are substances that you don’t see but may be coming from other industries like, for instance, powder plants and heavy metals, though you don’t want them on your jeans or garments in general. For this always buy them from companies that are respectable.
Making an example of intelligent chemistry: there are substances used for treating jeans that are highly polluting. We at Rudolph have developed Bionic Finish, that by using starlike, branched polymers are water and oil-repellent effects with a simultaneously reduced fluorocarbon resin content.”
BCI Serena Chironna, membership coordinator, BCI:
“When we talk about BCI we don’t only speak about cotton and sustainability, but about people. When BCI trainings teach farmers about the principles and the standards that also points out another aspect that ties them with the communities where they operate.”
“Women have a very important role in the cotton farm but this role is not often recognized. Almas is a young farmer from Pakistan. In this country when a woman’s father dies the land she owns goes to her husband. In this case Almas decided she wanted to care about the land herself. So she decided to participate the training of BCI, learned about all the practices, completed her training, qualified to become a Field Facilitator and began a paid position training local BCI Farmers in March 2017. It was not a smooth transition though she won the community’s respect.”
“Jam Muhammad Saleem decided to join BCI and learnt valuable farming methods via BCI’s training sessions. He learnt everything from the importance of healthy seeds to efficient water use and more effective ways to control insect pests. By adopting these standards Muhammad increased his profits, was able to hire labor workers and to send his child back to school. Before his child was helping him in the fields and could not attend classes. His kid is now back to school and wants to become a doctor. This is how a BCI standard enables improvement in the whole community.”