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LONDON – Denim manufacture has been undergoing a quiet revolution these past few years. The next issue of Apparel Insider lifts the lid on the global denim supply chain, where innovation and investment are driving new standards in sustainability.

Brands want – and are demanding – more sustainable denim, and that means cleaner, less resource-intensive production methods. While this costs money for denim mills, there is no obvious ROI on their investment in better technology and increased input costs. The ‘return’, as several of the world’s leading denim mills told us for this feature, is business retention.

“The cost of not investing will be the end of a factory so I don’t think investing in sustainability should be a problem if a mill wishes to stay in business in the next three to four years,” Andrew Olah, CEO of Olah Inc, organisers of the global Kingpins shows told us.

Asked whether there has been a minor revolution in denim manufacture, Olah corrects us, saying: “I don’t believe there is a minor revolution going on, I think its full on transformation on all levels throughout the jeans industry.”

Olah suggests the change is demand-led, although the more progressive mills have embraced change with gusto. He adds: “It is no longer peculiar to ask a factory about their carbon footprint. Once that was an odd and weird inquiry, now it’s normal and everyone has to pay attention.”

Water usage, arguably the most critical metric, is now a “real number people have to face,” adds Olah. “In short these are not developments, these are paradigm shifts like moving from antenna to satellite television.”

Read the full feature, including interviews with several of the world’s most progressive denim mills, in the next printed edition of Apparel Insider. To subscribe, click HERE.

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