Takeaways From ‘Denim Washing Changes In Near Future’ Webinar

Recently Denimsandjeans held a webinar ‘Denim Washing Changes In Near Future’ with some of very well known and globally reputed denim professionals . The panelists included :

1.Vasco Pizarro – Sales & Marketing Director – Pizarro S.A
2.Daniele Lovato – Head – Elleti Group, Tunisia
3.Andrea Perego – Washing & Treating Specialist – 7 For All Mankind
4.Luca Braschi – Creative Developer – Blue Alchemy (Consultant – Uniqlo & J Brand )

The talk was moderated by Sandeep Agarwal . We now bring the comments of the panelists which came out during the talk.

Some of the common points that came out during the discussion were as below but of course there was consensus of various other points of discussion.

  • Global standards need to be created by the industry only and implemented by the govt.
  • Cannot wait for consumers to demand sustainable products. brands and supply chain have to do it.
  • Technology is very important and we need to find ways to optimize usage of existing technologies and resources.

Andrea Perego

Andrea was of the opinion that the final consumer is more focused on the price and quality and he may sometime look at sustainabiity also . However, it is the job of brands and retailers to push it even if the consumer does not realize it is sustainable.

Andrea Perego at the Webinar

Technology – Andrea said “We are having a lot of new technology and we can do a lot of things with the technology and machines that are available in the market. Sustainable technology and washings are more expensive than normal one. Sustainabliity for me is also optimization of processes. A platform like HIGGS index can be useful to create global standards for sustainability.”

Daniele Lovato

He spoke of how too many people trying to get on the sustainability bandwagon and creating green washing . There are too many certifications and standards which dilute the efforts of sustainability and there is a need to narrow down these so that the efforts are more focused and customers can understand easily. He also said that solution for global standards must come from the industry.

Daniele Lovato at the webinar

DIFFERENT WASHES ASKED BY CONSUMERS – “Its like chicken and egg. Consumers will also be asking for new things but will also trust brands to do so . There will be shift to more visual, more authentic and not boring ! Online sales ensures sales of more photogenic and aggressive looks.”

Tech : Circularity programme is very important to save resources. A circular product does not need only a ciruclar industrial process but needs to be engineered from the beginning as a circular garment. So its not only washing but the entire system that needs to adapt to circularity. He spoke about using data to use in our garment industry. There is very little raw data being used and the next big thing is the use of software, technologies, AI and other tools to all stakeholders in the supply chain and we are ignoring this at the moment. Data is king !

Sustainability – When it becomes a standard across the industry – will be cheaper than producing traditionally. But until that moment it is going to be more expensive than standard one. In 2010-11 they offered their first eco collection called Earth keepers and prices were almost double compared to traditional but now the gap is closing . Currently a medium wash sustainable and same wash unsustainable – the difference would be 15-20%. Only on a higher scale of production the sustainable wash would be cheaper.

Luca Braschi

Luca mentioned that technologies like LASER AND OZONE lasers are very old but they were not used much . But now there is a push from the brands to use it more and more. He also spoke about new generation of chemicals which are synchronizing with these technologies to achieve the right result . It is currently a priority not only about matching samples of the customers but also to do in the right and sustainable ways.

He did not expect much change in consumer awareness of sustainable products post covid . Consumers are looking for references and what brands can do is offer transparency . He also felt that demand for health and safety finishings was getting higher now.
Performance properties are getting more and more important.

Luca Braschi at the webinar

“Technologies to sanitize existing garments so that huge inventories can be used appropriately has to be created. Have to use existing technologies in a better way by combining them. Working with very low liquid ratio – some machine makers are working on and can help.”

Uniqlo set up their own R&D centre with very clear targets like saving water 95-99% converted with traditional methods and in 3-4 years combining available technologies like laser and ozone and new generation chemicals . Uniqlo is also transfering this technology to their contractors. Being a big organization like them also helps to push change .

Being sustainable with a low price is a big challenge and that is being addressed. He felt that he did not like when the market is becoming technology addicted – the washers have also to use their brains to find solutions in existing resources. At the end numbers would justify that you did something sustainable. It is sometimes possible using simple technologies also .

Most sustainable wash- At Uniqlo they did was a wash in which they dried the garment only once , combining all processes in same bath, created a laser application with real effects and not requiring another application and save over 95% water compared to traditional wash and used only three chemicals.

Vasco Pizarro

Vasco spoke about optimization and a resource conservation . Substituting PP spray and stones. Since Pizarro is located in Portugal where the costs are high, they to optimize resources. Eg they have aaved over what 50% in steam used.

Vasco also mentioned that there is too much focus on washing whereas the impact on evironment during cotton production, yarn and fabric production and ultimately how garment is used is ignored. Too many certifications are focused on washing and miss the above points including the human impact. He did not see much special demand seen for health and safety finishings.

Vasco Pizarro at the webinar

Speaking on technolgoies, he also felt that a lot of road needs to be covered with existing technolgoies. He mentioned that they had developed a zero closed water system with Jeanologia which can have a great impact and enables them to use same water in our washing for 22 days with marginal loss . This saves hundreds of thousands of litres per month.

He also mentioned that re-purposing existing technologies like ozone would be important. Wiser wash technology has been very well accepted on the market. Pizarro also has programmes with retailers on the garments that are already at the stores and are not selling for re-treating and re-purposing them. They work out special processes to help them re-purpose . He also was of strong view that competitors must talk to each other and try to create industry standards.

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