The first edition of Source Denim (26-27 Jun.), the new sister-act of UK sourcing fair Fashion SVP, concluded yesterday. Some 20 odd denim players, ranging from mills to garment manufacturers, gathered in west London’s Olympia. Here are some of our discoveries:

 

The show started on a relaxed note, but got busier as the day progressed. Mood-wise, a friendly community vibe prevailed, and many of the company representatives we spoke to reported a diverse visitor type, ranging from big-name retailers to young designers and online start-ups. The fair’s seminars are a big draw, and we particularly enjoyed the panel dynamics that played out during “The new face of denim – innovation and future trends.” Moderated by Endrime designer and key denim industry figure Mohsin Sajid, various topics, and contrasting opinions, came to the fore. Simon Calvert of UK budget retailer Bonmarché represented one end of the spectrum, and Stacey Wood of craft denim label King & Tuckfield the other. “Stretch is on its way out,” stressed Wood, while Calvert insisted: “It’s here to stay.”

Source Denim fair landscape
Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon
Source Denim fair landscape
 

Exploring the offerings, it was apparent that sustainability was very high on the agenda throughout. “Our top priority at them moment is to make our business more sustainable,” said Shohel Rana, marketing director at Nassa Denim. “By 2020, our entire denim range will contain at least 20% recycled yarn, a process that’s well underway – we’re currently sourcing recycled denim from shredding companies, spinning it into a greener yarn at our Bangladesh mill, and making sure to use the most eco-friendly dye by DyStar, and applying whiskers and other details with laser technologies.” Aesthetically, there were plenty of fashion-led creativity on display, ranging from raw-edged cut-and-sew techniques, patchwork and paneling. “Bangladesh is known for its production of basics, and we’re determined to change that perception,” said Rana.

 

Neela Blue, the Pakistani-based, Leed (gold) certified sustainable denim mill (owned by the Sapphire Group), continues to push boundaries, both in terms of product performance and sustainability. Said Zaki U. Saleemi, director business unit: “Innovations starts at spinning-level, and we’ve sampled a lot of mixed-fiber yarn, using less cotton than previously. This is evidently the way forward – particularly among the LA brands. Our latest offering is a modal material with plenty of stretch, boasting great recovery and dye retention – two key characteristics that consumers expect from premium denim today. The popularity of stretch – bi-stretch, four-way stretch, warp or weft – sees no limits.”

 

A parade of sustainable jeans by Neela Blue mill
Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon
A parade of sustainable jeans by Neela Blue mill

Italian textile treatment specialist Everest has made its processes greener, partly responding to pressure from its Scandinavian and northern European clients. “We’ve invested a lot in our new low impact system, and we now use waterless ozone machines, laser technologies and other green methods,” said Everest’s Luca Soligo. “This new, sophisticated system doesn’t result in costs much higher than treatments achieved using traditional processes, and most people can’t see the difference between laser distressing and the handmade equivalent, apart from possibly the artisans themselves.”

Some of Everest’s latest creations
Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon
Some of Everest’s latest creations
 

As for he trends in demand at Everest, Soligo reported a story of contrast: “Brands either request very clean looks or utterly destroyed ones. ’70s and ’80s influences are very strong still, and stretch is key – even for denim that actually looks rigid and raw.” Over at major garment manufacturer Sybarite, whose clients include Tommy Hilfiger, Next and Zalando, tailored denim has been a hit. “Many of our clients, particularly at mid-market level, have fallen in love with clean, tailored denim in raw or lightly rinsed washes – styles you can actually wear to the office,” said Sybarite’s Asha Lakhani. “We still produce plenty of casual, destroyed denim, too, but mainly for the younger end of the market.”

 

From clean to destroyed – Sybarite covers the entire spectrum
Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon
From clean to destroyed – Sybarite covers the entire spectrum

The show also served up a portion of kids’ denim, a growing category, courtesy of Indian-based garment manufacturer Billoomi Fashion. Its creative director Jyoti Upmanyu showed us some of the designs she’s created lately, all of which were decidedly “mini-me” in feel – think bi-material jean jackets, frayed shorts and rhinestone-embellished denim skirts.  

Billoomi Fashion’s latest kids’ creations in close-up
Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon
Billoomi Fashion’s latest kids’ creations in close-up

 

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