High quality denim is a canvas for self expression. Steve McQueen, Marvin Gaye, Kurt Kubane, Boy Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Depp. They’ve all seen the potential in those sturdy blue fibres to express something of their souls' cry.
KCA’s collection of premium ‘honest denim’ is available on Brothers We Stand here
Kurt Kuban’s naturally worn in jeans were an expression of the authenticity that was so important to him.
Denim gains character over time and so is a faithful friend for those of us wanting to live well with less.
The achilles heel, speaking of sustainability, of the blue cloth has always been its energy, chemical and water intensive production.
Denims' distinctive pattena is achieved through dying only the warp cotton yarns with indigo and leaving the weft yarns white. The challenge is that indigo dye does not stick naturally to cotton fibres (unlike most natural dyes, indigo is not water soluble*). In order to get the indigo to stick to the cotton huge amounts of water, chemicals and energy are used. Further quantities of water and chemicals are then used to lighten the jeans. All this can create vast quantities of toxic wastewater. In the opening scene of the documentary RiverBlue, deep magenta wastewater pours into a river in China as fashion designer and activist Orsola de Castro voices over, "there is a joke in China that you can tell the 'it' color of the season by looking at the color of the rivers."
Enter sustainable menswear dons Knowledge Cotton Apparel with a new line of premium, low impact denim, they’ve named ‘honest denim’. It took KCA buying manager Anders’ Langhoff-Jensen two years of hard work to identify pioneering denim suppliers who could produce a denim collection in the way Anders’ and KCA envisioned.
KCA’s denim is premium selvedge, made with organic cotton and 2% recycled elastane for a comfortable fit.
The denim fabric is sourced from Artistic Milliner’s, a worldwide leader in denim innovation, located in Pakistan. A progressive attitude to female empowerment is reflected in the company Board of Directors which is made up of 16 men and 16 women.
Hina Khan, Head of Supply Chain at Artistic Milliners.
Artistic Milliners have pioneered a low impact process of indigo dying. In conventional indigo dying only 20% of indigo dyestuff can be reused due to salt formation. Artistic Milliners have found that by using an organic fixing agent that requires no salt and 70 percent less chemicals, it is possible to recover and reuse up to 100% of indigo dye. As an additional benefit the indigo fixation process does not require heating, reducing energy consumption.
KCA’s jeans are finished using similarly impressive technology. This time it’s in Turkey, where the jeans are also cut and sewn. The jeans are loaded into a large ‘washing machine’ type piece of kit and some of the oxygen in the machine is cleverly converted to Ozone. Ozone is a highly reactive gas made up of three oxygen atoms. In this sealed environment the Ozone gas works on the indigo dye and removes it to achieve the shade of blue desired by KCA’s designers. The Ozone is then transformed back into oxygen and released safely into the environment.
This ‘Ozone Technology’ avoids the use of bleaches conventionally used to finish denim. The process uses less water and energy and crucially doesn’t create contaminated wastewater.
Show your support for a more sustainable denim industry and pick up your honest denim here. How you make it your own is up to you.
*Interestingly it's the fact that indigo is not water soluble that allows our jeans to fade so distinctly rather than fading out evenly.