Recreating Denim Fades the Sustainable Way

These blog posts and the Denimhunters video production were made in collaboration with Soorty.

Episode #1: Retracing Denim’s History to Learn How to Make the Future Greener

The thing that got me hooked on denim was the fact that it fades. To this day, it’s my favourite thing about denim; I love keeping track of how the indigo is slowly chipped away from the fabric. That’s why I only wear raw denim.

But the history of denim and jeans is another aspect of the blue world that has always fascinated me. And a big part of that history is pre-washing.

During Bluezone back in September 2019, Soorty offered us and our good friend Wouter Munnich from Long John a chance to go behind the scenes and see how it’s done; to retrace how it began in the 1960s when those early pioneers of pre-washing began to purposely make the jeans they sold look old and worn.

Today, only a fraction of the +1 billion jeans that’re produced annually are not pre-washed. And it’s become a major challenge for the industry; because pre-washing requires a significant amount of resources.

In November 2019, Wouter and Thomas visited Soorty’s NASDA innovation lab in Turkey. With us, we’d each brought a pair of our own worn-in jeans, which we were going to recreate to experience and witness the process.

The result was a three-piece mini-documentary of which the video below is the first episode.

Multiple finishing methods were developed over the years; some with very high impacts on our planet while others are much more environmentally friendly.

That’s why the main topic at denim trade shows in recent years has been sustainability. How to make the business of making denim and jeans more sustainable. And that’s something Soorty has specialised in.

ABOUT SOORTY

Soorty (@soortyenterprises) is a family-owned business that’s grown from a store in Karachi into one of the world’s largest vertically-integrated denim and jeans makers.

With an aim to educate, Soorty hosts events and collaborates with influencers to help spread honest information to a wider audience.

Soorty has also launched Future Possibilities; an on- and offline platform of transparent information aiming to build dialogue between different layers of the supply chain.

Episode 2: Exploring How Jeans Are Cut and Sewn at Soorty’s NASDA Lab

In episode 2, we see how the jeans are cut and sewn. Watch it below.

Episode 3: Experiencing a More Sustainable Denim Laundry

The goal of the documentaries has been to spread the word about responsible manufacturing methods and available options in denim production. The went we did that was to each bring of own favourite naturally worn-in raw denim jeans, which they then recreated with the most sustainable materials and methods available.

We wanted to make something that was both informative, transparent and fun at the same time. Throughout the series, Wouter and I talk about our personal experiences with our jeans and the fades.

In the final episode (the one just above), we see how the jeans go through the laundry processes to recreate our jeans.

As we see how it’s done, Wouter and I also reflect on why we accepted the invitation to do this project:

Referencing the research I’ve done about the history of jeans, we talk about how pre-washing of denim started with consumers’ demand for ready-to-wear naturally worn-in jeans. And how, today, the vast majority of jeans that’re sold globally are pre-washed.

Therefore, as a self-proclaimed ‘denim marketing expert’ who makes a living freelancing in the denim industry, I need to constantly stay up to date with what’s happening in denim – not only raw denim.

Want to Learn More About Denim?

If you want to learn more about denim, you’ve come to the right place. Denimhunters has hundreds of in-depth resources about denim and jeans. Start with some of our most popular ones here.

If you want a heads up whenever I post new stories, you can sign up for the Denimhunters email newsletter.

You should also check out Wouter’s website, long-john.nl. And Soorty also has their knowledge-sharing platform called Future Possibilities.