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In terms of Indian retailers and brands, everyone from industry heavyweights like Reliance, Arvind, Raymond UCO, KKCL, and Spykar to recently established homegrown brands like 11.11, Doodlage, and The Summer House are assuming responsibility for embracing the “green” concept through sustainable denim.

The world-famous denim company Levi’s has recently garnered a lot of media attention. For the second year, it is relaunching its “Buy Better, Wear Longer” campaign to spread awareness about excessive consumption in the apparel sector. And this year, the emphasis is on durability, a brand promise that serves as the cornerstone of purchasing superior clothing.

Today, sustainability in the denim business is a hot topic thanks to international firms like Levi’s. What’s fascinating is that consumers are all in favour of sustainable products, and this is a trend that is spreading not just to other countries but also to India.

The fashion industry is progressively becoming aware of the negative environmental effects associated with the production of those beloved faded blue jeans. The necessary finishing is achieved with extensive use of water, energy, and powerful chemicals. And at the appropriate moment, if not already too late, brands, fabric mills, and apparel manufacturers are implementing sustainable actions to conserve natural resources across their denim supply chain!

Regarding Indian retailers’ and brands’ initiatives, everyone from major players like Reliance, Arvind, Raymond UCO, KKCL, and Spykar to recently established homegrown brands like 11.11, Doodlage, and The Summer House are assuming responsibility for embracing the “green” concept through sustainable denim.

While The Summer House’s denim clothing is produced from handwoven fabric reclaimed from garment waste and plastic bottles, 11.11 provides a denim collection made of 100% handwoven Kala cotton that is organically cultivated without pesticides or chemicals. Additionally, its denim is pre-shrunk without the usage of water. It’s interesting to note that The Summer House uses repurposed denim, which is considerably more environmentally friendly than recycled material.

In India, very few businesses engage in upcycling. Considering its potential, a lot more businesses can accomplish it. The market for upcycled goods will grow significantly in the future, just like that of ethical and eco-friendly clothing companies. Similar to creating a new product, upcycling entails a fresh design process and occasionally a whole manufacturing cycle. In the fast fashion sector, it can take a while to find, deconstruct, and reassemble the product, according to Shivangini Padhiyar, founder and creative director of The Summer House.

Doodlage is another locally produced brand that is well known for its stylish repurposed clothing. The company also sells a variety of repurposed factory waste-made jackets, shirts, skirts, and pants made of denim.

The largest retailer in India, Reliance, also has a line of eco-friendly denims in which the fabrics are produced using a great deal less water and chemical processing.

Additionally, denim mills are making environmental initiatives.

Some Indian denim factories are well-known throughout the world for their multifaceted efforts to promote sustainability. One such mill is KG Fabriks, and it would be accurate to say that the business has done everything possible to promote sustainability. Be it the use of solar power, cooperation with the “The Jeans Redesign” project of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, attempts to conserve water and energy, or the use of recycled polyester.

In the year 2020, when there was a pandemic, KF Denim’s R&D team created “Digital Denim,” which turned out to be a game-changing invention to reduce denim overproduction and keep stocks low.

“In the same way that garment firms are developing “Digital Samples” of their products, we developed a denim fabric whose 3D representation is 99.99% identical to our real samples. We assembled a team of 10 employees after realising that physical samples would no longer be required going forward for numerous financial and time-related reasons. In order for us to create digital samples of our denim textiles, our R&D team laboured arduously to develop software internally, which cost us about Rs. 2 crore. The freshly produced samples are being welcomed by all of our customers, according to Srihari Balakrishnan, managing director of KG Fabriks Ltd., who recently spoke with Team Apparel Resources (AR).

Not just KG Fabriks, but a lot more Indian denim mills are focused on recycled denim and energy conservation and are concerned about the sustainability features of their goods.

“Our research and development for recycled denim is ongoing, and we soon plan to sell recycled denim. We are concentrating on it because there is a strong market demand for it, said Gunjan Mittal, Director of Mehak Group, Ahmedabad.

In order to cut costs, Vinod Texworld in Ahmedabad is also relying on recycled denim yarns, while also emphasising the production of sustainable energy. “It is high time to expand by putting extra effort in product development and sustainability, which have to be the fundamental features in all the advancements moving forward,” said Harsh Mittal, the company’s director.

How clothing manufacturers are promoting sustainability in the production of denim clothing

Priorities first! Shahi Exports, the leading manufacturer of clothing in India, established its denim division in Bengaluru in 2010. Shahi now has two denim garmenting machines and a laundry with a 12 million piece annual production capacity. Since then, the company claims that this most recent addition has driven growth toward sustainable operations both internally and with customers.

The Laundry 5.Zero strategy, which has been projected to revolutionise the denim industry, has been embraced by Shahi. The business combines cutting-edge technology from different parts of the world to create a genuinely global product that is also sustainable.

“For us, sustainability is defined by the prudent use of the four fundamental resources—chemicals, energy, water, and our people. The well-being of our employees is just as important as environmental considerations when it comes to sustainable operations, according to Nandheesh Gowda, general manager of laundry at Shahi Exports.

The Shahi design team begins by designing the product to have as little of an impact on the environment as possible. It chooses lighter denim colours, which need only a mild wash and much shorter washing cycles, minimising the environmental impact.

Another well-known denim factory, The Indaco Jeans Factory in Tarapur, is actively working to minimise its environmental impact by using less water, more environmentally friendly chemicals, and sustainable energy sources. Among the company’s innovations are its ETP plant, gas dryer, and energy-efficient line drying system to dry jeans with fresh air. The emphasis is also on technology as it makes use of Jeanologia’s Environmental Impact Measurement software to track how much water, energy, chemicals, and workers’ health are used throughout manufacturing and how it impacts the environment.

The company’s founder, Prasad Pabrekar, stated, “We have invested in cutting-edge technology and smart laundry systems having less use of water, energy, and chemicals, innovative machines in departments like cutting and sewing to boost production efficiency and quality as well.