Environmentally Friendly Denim Laundry Technologies

Stephanie Steele Thursday, 1 April 2021

The finishing and washing stages of denim garment production, are arguably where your item comes alive. This is where the design elements you envisioned become 3D on the fabric surface. Processes such as stonewashing, sandblasting, sanforization... whether you are a sustainable fashion brand or not, it is likely you will have considered these ubiquitous denim looks for your design. They are what customers want to see. Or do they?

According to Good On You, 2 billion pairs of jeans are produced worldwide each year. As the current world population is 7.9 billion, and not all of those people choose or have access to new denim, where are all of those pairs going? The problem for this lesson does not necessarily lie, however, in how many jeans are being produced, but the potentially unnecessary production processes in response to brand demands that make those figures even less palatable.

One pair of Levi jeans requires 3781 liters of water to produce, and over 10% of the world’s population is currently deprived of access to clean drinking water. The hardest hitting bit, is that it is the driest countries - e.g. Pakistan - that produce cotton for the denim products. There are debates over the water consumption data when fibres such as recycled or organic cotton is used instead of conventional virgin. Yet, the denim laundry stage is water and energy intensive enough that the industry is now reviewing its technologies.

In this 28 minute lesson we give you a rundown of the existing traditional finishing and washing processes, along with newer environmentally (and people)-friendly technologies, so that you are more equipped when designing, and then when communicating with and visiting factories.

Thumbnail image: Saitex laser finishing by Whitney Bauck for Fashionista

In this video you'll learn:

  • What denim finishing is
  • What denim washing or laundry is
  • What finishing techniques there are for denim
  • What washing processes there are for denim
  • Alternative eco-friendly technologies

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