On May 17 and 18, Denim Première Vision was held for the first time in Berlin. Some 83 experts from the denim industry presented their innovations at the Arena Berlin. Some of them talked to FashionNetwork.com about the challenges of the past two years, the trends of the coming season and, finally, the changes that await the industry in terms of sustainability, materials and innovation.
The mood at the first meeting of the denim industry in the German capital was euphoric. Exhibitors mostly spoke of their satisfaction at the face-to-face «return to business» after suffering in recent years from fluctuations in orders due to health restrictions and closures.
«The last three years were very slow because of the coronavirus, but since the salons have come back, things are going much better. It’s important for us to be in the salons. Customers want to see and touch the materials and we want to give them all the information about the fabrics so they can do that,» explained Isil Sena Candanm, sales director of Turkish manufacturer Kilim Denim.
Despite alleged fears about the number of visitors compared to the pre-pandemic editions held in Paris, Japanese jeans manufacturer Kuroki was also pleased to return to a physical show and to be able to engage in direct exchanges with its customers.
The theme of this year’s Berlin event was, unsurprisingly, sustainability. This is because, according to the exhibitors themselves, this is where the greatest demand is currently concentrated.
«Customers are asking above all for sustainability, but also for special blends and not just 100 % cotton. For our part, we offer, for example, blends with cashmere or even special blends of Tencel and linen,» explained Francesca Polato, from the marketing department of the Italian company Berto.
Keith O’Brien, head of public relations at leading Turkish denim manufacturer Isko, confirms this appetite for sustainable offerings. «Customers are very interested in the way sustainability is presented in our company. For example, we are integrating more recycled yarns into materials. In 95 % of our collections, we now use at least 40 % recycled materials,» he stressed.
Denim made from hemp fibers was also a growing trend at the Berlin stands. The demand for hemp has increased considerably over the past two years and is causing a resurgence of the hemp textile industry in France, for example. On the one hand, because hemp is said to be attractive for its antibacterial properties, but also because it is a natural alternative to the rising price of cotton, stressed Junaid Mushtaq, who works for the Pakistani manufacturer Kassim Denim.
Between material costs and supply problems
Rising prices for cotton and other raw materials, as well as the current limitations of some supply chains and logistical solutions, are said to remain the biggest challenges in the sector today. Companies such as Kuroki, which ships directly from Japan, have experienced delivery delays in recent years due to border closures.
«Material costs and delivery delays have been and continue to be a challenge for us. Sometimes it is the indigo suppliers who are at fault. Other times it is the supplier who delivers the paper rolls on which we store the fabrics that are late. The most important thing is to be transparent and clearly explain our problems to customers,» said Berto’s Francesca Polato.
Due to rising material costs, the Italian company says it will also have to adjust its prices. Most customers would be understanding, «because above all they are sensitive to quality and know that Berto produces in its home country, Italy,» said Francesca Polato.
In addition to stretch fabrics, denim developed and worked more organically is likely to be used more and more. This is the opinion of Johan Van den Heede, European marketing director of Advance Denim, who mentions the growing number of materials developed from plants or marine materials, such as recycled nylon from fishing nets.
Isko shares this view, having started its conversion to more sustainable processes 10 years ago. The company believes that in the future, not only will the origin of the fiber have to be more sustainable, but the garment itself will have to offer a longer life.
«The whole production process needs to be more sustainable. With recycled polyester or recycled cotton, we make sure that the garment is also strong and durable. It’s all meaningless if the fabric doesn’t hold up,» insisted Keith O’Brien.
Whatever direction the demand for denim takes after the pandemic, brands will have to react and adapt quickly: a recent study by Research and Markets estimates that the market could grow from $57.3 billion in 2020 to $76.1 billion in 2026.
The next edition of Denim Première Vision will take place on November 23 and 24 in Milan. Meanwhile, Première Vision Paris will hold its first edition earlier than planned: the editions that previously took place in September will now be held in July, to fit in with order schedules.