Our suppliers and how we choose them
Here at DENHAM we stand for premium-quality products, made in the best, most honest and sustainable way possible. In order to ensure our products have the longest-life possible we source our resources, fabrics and materials from the industry's leading suppliers, denim mills and work with the best laundries.
By working with the right partners, who have the same values and dedication to the craft as we do, we are able to make outstanding collections that look great and made in a conscious way. What's more, we refuse to work with companies who do not share our passion or who do not uphold our standards.
We work with a vast network of suppliers, who help us create the best quality products using the fairest and most responsible processes. We hand select the denim mills, manufacturers and laundry companies that make our products, to ensure they share our passion for authenticity, quality and great product design.
By continuing to partner with leading 'green' denim mill Candiani Denim, who we've worked with for over 10 years and whose sustainability mission closely aligns with our own, we ensure we continue to push our agenda for conscious innovation.
It's safe for us to say that all of our suppliers uphold our high, sustainable standards including those overseas in China and Japan. For example, we are proud to say that we work with Advanced Denim, the first denim mill in China which has made environmental sustainability a core part of its business. At the same time, Advanced Denim also shares our dedication to social responsibility by protecting its workers rights, offering safe working conditions and delivering premium-quality products.
We choose to work with factories that provide safe, fair and healthy working conditions. We strive to partner with suppliers that share our common vision for sustainability, transparency and social responsibility. We work hard to make sure the suppliers we work with are able to meet our steep standards. At the same time, we also audit our factories using independent, third-party auditing companies to ensure they uphold our code of conduct.
Being a global brand means we are present in several countries, both retail and production-wise. The bright side of working with international suppliers means that a large percentage of the products made in certain regions remains there. For example, 45% of our garments for 2019 were produced by our EU-vendors, our biggest retail market. By producing and selling to local markets, we are able to reduce our overall energy usage and C02 emissions.
Win-win all round.
SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS & FABRICS
As a conscious denim brand, we seek to make our products using the most premium-quality fabrics and materials in the world. We believe that in order to make the best possible garments, you have to start with an excellent foundation, which includes using sustainable and high-calibre fabrics such as hemp and Tencel.
We strive to use sustainable and circular materials in our collections whenever possible. For example, our new labels are made from recycled polyester and all of our hangtags are FSC-certified, meaning the paper used to make them was collected from an ethical source.
We are currently testing and trialling animal-free alternatives for our leather patches and detailing.
Over the years we have continued to invest in using the most premium and innovative sustainable fabrics on the market. In addition to using textiles made from organic cotton, linen and hemp we also use newer fabrics. For example, in 2019 we were the first denim brand to create a 100% biodegradable denim collection, with a natural rubber core for additional stretch and comfort.
We aim to increase the percentage of sustainable fabrics in our collections each season. By 2022 all cotton used to make our denim jeans will be certified - either organic or recycled.
The dyeing of textiles, especially denim, is traditionally seen as a very chemical, energy and labour intensive process. The fabric is exposed to several chemicals making up the different pigments and inks during the process and significant amounts of water are used. However, our suppliers use new technologies which means we are able to recycle our water, reduce our chemical usage and save energy.
Based on the use of chitosan, a naturally occurring polymer extracted from the exoskeleton of shrimp, a food by-waste, this innovative technique from Candiani Denim drastically reduces the use of water, chemicals and energy during the production of textiles. This biodegradable substance can be used to replace PVA and acrylic resin for both water dispersion and reinforcing yarn. It uses 30% less energy, 50% less water and 70% fewer chemicals overall, making it very sustainable.
KITOTEX® Vegetal is the vegan version of this patent technology, which uses plant-based sources such as mushrooms, seaweed and plants as a basis.
Similar to KITOTEX®, this technique is a 100% PVA free process, which allows for a completely plastic & microplastic free dyeing process. Derived from various types of vegetable starches, such as peas and potatoes, it reduces the use of water and chemicals.
By using pre-reduced indigo, which has less sodium hydrosulphite and caustic soda than traditional indigo, we use fewer chemicals overall.
By ensuring the Indigo dye does not sink too deeply into the yarn, this technique ensures that a fraction of water, energy and chemicals are used to fade the fabric during the laundry process.
The laundry and finishing processes are usually seen as the most energy, chemical and water significant stages of making a garment. Thankfully, our main partner and lead laundry since 2008, Elleti Martelli Group are pioneers in washing techniques and share our commitment to making indigo more sustainable.
A new technique based on the use of nano-bubbles, E-flow 'breaks up' the surface of a garment, making it easier for the dye to adhere, controlling shrinkage and offering a soft-hand feel. A minimal amount of water, chemicals and energy is used during the process, with also zero discharge.
Instead of resorting to traditional hand-scraping methods to distress our jeans, we use high-tech lasers for the fading. The machines take up less space and use less time to produce the same effect in a safer way, essentially using less energy as well.
Our supplier uses the special Tonello All-in-One system which uses vapour water spray rather than filling the entire machine with water. The vapour spray is mixed with enzymes and a nanobubble machine, which makes tiny nanobubbles that we use to add to the vintage ‘stoned’ look, without the use of stones and harsh chemicals.
These machines and enzymes also use less time to make the vintage look we all love, meaning less energy and resources are used.
This technique uses a minimal amount of water in denim production, up to 90% less than traditional bleaching methods as well as few chemicals, meaning less water pollution.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT MEASUREMENT (EIM)
EIM, short for Environmental Impact Measurement, is a unique platform developed by Jeanologia to monitor and measure the environmental impact of garment finishing processes in an efficient and economically viable way. A self-accreditation tool designed to help improve the environmental performance of jeans finishing at the manufacturing stage.
The first software of its kind DENHAM implemented EIM to help assess where the impact of our finishing processes is the greatest and help build more sustainable finishing processes.
EIM measures the environmental impact of the finishing processes across four different categories:
Water consumption, energy consumption, chemical impact and worker impact. Each category holds its measurement requirements.
For water consumption, it measures the litres of water used per garment produced; for energy consumption, the necessary energy to run the machines and other tools, as well as the caloric energy used.
For chemicals, EIM takes into consideration the hazardous effect the chemicals used has on the environment. For worker health, it looks into two factors that influence it: the handling of the chemicals used and the operations they carry out.
The tool works in three steps, based on the recipe description for the process:
- Quantification for each of the categories;
- Benchmark against an environmental threshold defined for each of the categories above;
- Process classification and scored as an average of the four categories, with an equal balance on the final score.
The final score for the finishing process is classified as either Low Impact, Medium Impact or High Impact, depending on the benchmark.
WHY DENHAM USES EIM
DENHAM uses EIM to measure and monitor the garment finishing processes it uses for its denim jeans. By having a transparent and clear overview of our products' impact on the environment during production, we hope to build more sustainable processes and reduce our overall impact.
In the future, we aim to ensure the EIM score for all our denim finishing is low impact.