With a name like HNST we can only be honest about our jeans and its production process. Moreover, we wouldn’t want it any other way, because this is exactly how we can dramatically push the current standards! Curious about how our jeans are being produced? Let’s be honest about the weaving and dyeing of our jeans.
Just a little warning: in this blog post, we first serve you the bad news (briefly), but after that we gladly tell you all the good things.
DYEING DENIM: THE BAD NEWS
Did you know that every year, some 15 billion meters of denim fabric is produced? That length is enough to stretch around the earth 374 times and also asks for 66.000 tons of indigo powder. It’s already known that the textile industry is the second most polluting in the world. Newsflash: within this sector, the dyeing process of jeans is one of the greatest burden for the environment.
This is because the indigo powder, which we need to make the yarn blue, needs to be dissolved in water. Only one problem: the powder naturally doesn’t dissolve in water. Nothing that mankind couldn’t solve, because with polluting, toxic chemicals and heavy metals, it does work. Those harmful substances come on the skin of the textile workers and later on ours. Through the industrial washing process, it ends up in the sewers and thus in the oceans. Later, through our washing machines, the same thing happens.
CLIMATE POSITIVE DYEING
Italdenim, our Italian partner for dyeing and weaving the HNST jeans, uses Smart-IndigoTM. Electrocells are used to fix the indigo powder on the jeans fibres, making chemicals redundant. In order to avoid transport, the entire process of powder over dyed fibre to woven denim fabric is done in one place.
A small theory lesson: jeans is woven with two kinds of yarn, the weft thread (horizontal) and the warp thread (vertical). Since only the latter is really visible in the fabric, only this yarn is dyed. It’s done through coat dyeing, where the core of the yarn remains white and the colour encloses the yarn. This way, you immediately know why jeans always lose a bit of their colour because of wearing and washing it: the white core is increasingly exposed because of the friction!
In order to slow down this process and to fix the indigo on the jeans fibres, a concentrate of toxic substances is “normally” used. Italdenim makes use of chitosan for this, a substance which is extracted from shellfish shells, a residual product of the food industry. By dissolving it in water and applying it to the jeans fibres, a kind of filter is being created, which ensures a higher resistance of the indigo colour. It therefore sticks better onto the yarn.
The lobster substance chitosan helps us, apart from the dyeing process, also in attaining our sustainable challenges in terms of weaving. Before there is even one thread in the weaving loom, the yarn is strengthened with a kind of paste. Generally, a starch paste with minuscule microplastics is being used. These pieces of plastic unfortunately can’t be filtered (yet) and so while washing the denim fabric, they inevitably end up in our oceans. In chitosan, Italdenim found a perfectly eco-friendly substitute, which applies the same layer on the yarns. This way, nature is quite a big help in the production of our HNST jeans!
Our high recycling rate doesn’t create higher challenges for the dyeing and weaving factory than usually. However, our Belgian spinning mill had to work really hard on it. Why is this so hard? You can read it here.