CONE DENIM – A Talk With Kevin Reardon

Is there anyone in denim industry who does not know Cone Denim . The pioneer of denim fabrics , the company was founded in 1891 in Greensboro, NC out of the entrepreneurial spirit of brothers Moses and Ceasar Cone and grounded in American heritage and tradition, Cone Denim is focused on finding new concepts, new materials, and new technologies to provide the customers with innovative and unique solutions. They received some accolades from Kontoor brands besides some other exciting developments. We thought to get their latest updates in the context of product developments and talked with Kevin Reardon, SVP Commercial Strategy, Cone Denim about their latest collections and innovations.

First of all congratulations for achieving Bronze status through the Indigood programme of Kontoor brands. Please tell us more about it.

Cone Denim received the Bronze Status through Kontoor Brands Indigood® Program for freshwater savings. With this milestone, we are the first textile mill in North America to be awarded the performance status of Bronze or better from the Indigood Program. Mills participating in the Indigood Program are third-party verified for their water savings.

Water savings is a key pillar for our sustainability initiatives, and Cone Denim has set an aggressive goal to reduce water consumption of 25% by 2025. We are on target to meet this goal with Cone Denim achieving 21.8% water savings (as reported at the end of 2022), which has largely been led by our Zero Liquid Discharge installation at our mill in Parras, Mexico. This state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system saves 100 million gallons of water annually by recycling the water used in the denim manufacturing process.

How does becoming a member of Circulose Supplier network of Renewcell benefits Cone Denim and your customers?

Cone Denim joined the CIRCULOSE® Supplier Network, a network comprised of yarn and textile producers committed to streamlining and increasing CIRCULOSE® production across the supply chain. Our partnership in the CIRCULOSE® Supplier Network underscores our ongoing commitment to drive change toward a sustainable future.

We are committed to increasing the percentage of recycled and circular fiber content in the denim fabrics we design, develop, and bring to market. Joining the CIRCULOSE® Supplier Network is among several initiatives Cone Denim is undertaking as part of our leading role in influencing the adoption of circularity in the industry.

Our customers can look forward to more options that incorporate more circular content, more recycled content, and more sustainable fibers into Cone Denim styles that maintain the authenticity and character of classic denim. We anticipate releasing our first commercial fabric with the CIRCULOSE® fiber in early 2024.

Speaking about your most recent collection, what products do you think stand out the most and why?

We recently released our Spring Summer 2025 collection and are getting a great response from denim brands on the new line.

Our Remastered capsule focuses on scalable sustainability and denim fabrics designed for longevity. They are designed to be timeless and will go the distance regarding wash range and versatility in end use. They all are in a classic denim construction. The denim fabrics in this capsule encompass a range of recycled content from 5%-100%. We are seeing strong interest from brands with fabrics constructed of 100% post-industrial waste (PIW).

Since releasing the new line, we’ve had a lot of energy around our novelty capsule, Midnight Voyage. This capsule is a vignette of novelty fabrics that include a variety of stripes, a herringbone weave, and colors.

We have also had positive reactions to Lagoon Blue, a brilliant, turquoise-cast indigo, and our super soft authentic Tencel blends as part of our “In the Clouds” concept. 

There is an emphasis on texture as a statement this season. We designed versatile fabrics suitable for various silhouettes and sizes, regardless of whether it’s a classic denim construction or a novelty weave or color.

Our Etched in Texture concept is a compilation of crosshatch, marble, and pronounced slub character styles. To answer the market need for more pronounced character, we created a menu of yarn textures from subtle to bolder.

What do you think have been the biggest changes in the denim world that you can experience post covid and with the unstable political situation?

The macroeconomic situation with inflation has resulted in the industry experiencing some softness, but things are picking up as brands work through their inventories. While business is not as strong as we want, we are seeing demand return as global denim inventories decline.

Denim brands are looking to make wash and sizing decisions much later in the buying cycle, which is pushing some sourcing for the U.S. market back into the North American hemisphere. We are also seeing increased demand for recycled content and any fabric attributes that can tell a documentable, sustainable story. Our customers are seeking options that include more circular content, more recycled content, and more sustainable fibers in styles that maintain the authenticity and character of classic Cone Denim.

You participated in the Denimsandjeans Vietnam show this year. How was your experience there?

This was a wonderful event gathering different players in the country and within the region. From local brands, garment makers, and fiber suppliers to machinery manufacturers. The show was well attended with informative forums and valuable market intel takeaways after the two-day event!

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