Denim Jeans Tile

Barkers cleans up denim production

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Barkers have just launched a clean denim range, for the fashionable and sustainability conscious. Historically, denim has been a dirty business and the kiwi label has set out to challenge the status quo when it comes to producing high quality denim. The brand decided to launch New Zealand's cleanest range of denim while on a mission to build a more responsible future for fashion.

Partnering with Vietnam-based Saitex, a Fairtrade certified world leader in clean denim manufacturing, each pair of jeans uses just 1.5 litres of production water after recycling versus the denim industry average of 80 litres.

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What’s more, while other jeans typically discard their waste water, 98 percent of the water used in production is recycled. After undergoing reverse osmosis, it’s even safe to drink. The other two percent is evaporated, making for a zero discharge facility.

The jeans are then 85 percent air dried instead of being entirely tumble dried, the industry norm, before being finished with a quick spin in a commercial dryer - powered by solar energy. Using renewable energy resources such as solar power has seen the factory’s emissions reduce by 80 percent.

The hardware applied is nickel-free and the ‘lite’ leather patch means the leather is manufactured using especially low water and energy consumption. Made by one of the world’s most respected tanneries, a special man-made wetland is used to purify 100 percent of the tannery’s production water waste.

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The toxic ‘sludge’ from the denim manufacturing process is then treated and mixed with concrete to create non-leaching bricks to build affordable homes in the local community. So far, ten have been built.

With Saitex supplying big name brands such as J Crew, Everlane, Madewell, G Star Raw and Outerknown, Barkers Group Managing Director Jamie Whiting believes Barkers is the first major New Zealand retailer to adopt these more responsible production methods.

Knowing the fashion industry is a major contributor to environmental waste, Barkers has for several years been working away on a more responsible business model and is making good progress on minimising its environmental and social impact, says Whiting.

“It’s a journey,” says Whiting. “We’re not saying we’re perfect or that we’ve achieved all our goals already, but every step in the right direction is better than sitting on the side lines doing nothing about the welfare of the planet or the people who make our garments.”

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Made from quality Japanese denim in five washes across three fits, slim, tapered and straight, these are clean jeans that look good too.

Available now at Barkers, 29 Nuffield Street.