Denim Jeans a cotton apparel, was originally designed for the working class. Today, it has become a part of the fashion garments space. Jeans as a fabric originated in the city of Genoa, Italy in the form of cotton corduroy. It arrived in United States in the late 18th century and in India the initial bit of influence was seen in 1930s when tourists were seen sorting jeans on the Indian soil. Denims for the Indian markets were initially imported from western countries and were accessible and available only to upper and upper middle classes of the society. The first jeans were manufactured in India in 1995. It has evolved from being worn in special occasions or outings to wearing it on an everyday basis. “Denims in India were introduced as the best gear for men which was rigid and long lasting. Later on denims were adapted by women and then kids. The most renowned styles in denims were Straight-leg and wide-leg (known as bell bottoms) which stayed for almost 5 years in India,” says Sanjeev Mukhija, Founder Breakbounce.
Denim was born in early 90’s in India. Wearing comfort, style statement, toughness of the fabric were few of the many characteristics which helped the fabric gain popularity among masses in a short span and in no time denim has grown from the tag of utility fabric to fashion fabric. In the initial year’, denim was mostly considered as a fabric for men, with limited options in colour, style, fabric and the like. “Today denim does not mean jeans only but it is popular equally among female and kids and has become a universal fabric. Denim today means a multitude of things-skirts, jackets, bags, accessories and even shoes. The age group which considers denim as fashion wear is 16 to 28 but denim is equally popular among elderly people also. The high profile jeans culture is finally here and urban youngsters particularly are lapping them up as soon as they appear on shop-shelves. Indian denim is constantly scaling new heights. It is successfully competing with the other brands which are popular abroad and has carved a niche for itself in the world market by catering to international standards. No fabric has been as hard sold by its manufacturers as denim has been and it is not surprising to read of overnight successes in the readymade garment business with denim as the base fabric,” says Deepak Chiripal, CEO, Nandan Denim Ltd. Over 50% of denim in produced in India, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. With such high levels of production and manufacturing, Denim has been the trendiest and most worn fabric amongst Indians. “From Jackets and dungarees in the late 70s and early 80s to bellbottoms and pencil fit and jeggings in the modern days, it has evolved from just another cloth to one’s best comfort clothing. This fabric never goes out of fashion and like they say history repeats itself – denims always have their way of making a comeback in the Indian market either in a new avatar of like the ones used in 70s and 80s with a little modification here and there,” opine Ashish Gurnani and Aashray Thatai, Co-founders, PostFold.
Weighing the pros and cons
Denim is a versatile fabric that can be worn for any occasion. “For example, fine, unwashed denim is so elegant that can be worn for an evening event if clubbed / accessorized with the right things. At the same times, washed or worn out denims can be worn on treks or outings with friends. Subcultures are fading away because of globalization. Hence, we tend to mix and match everything together. The same pair of denims can be worn with high heels or boots for an evening party or as club wear and with slippers or sandals when going to college or a day outing. To sum it up, the same pair of denims can be used for different occasions if accessorized properly. At the same time, denims nowadays come in so many styles, that one can have a different one for different occasions,” says Vito Dell’Erba, Creative Director, Future Lifestyle Fashions.
Denims have been evolving with infusion of technology. Originally it was a fabric used for work wear. It entered into music subcultures in 50s and developed in the subsequent decades and it never left. It was inspired by rockers, pink rock, grunge’s in the earlier days. “Today, denims are available in various prints, designs, washes etc. They are available in paint splashes, prints, enzyme wash, stone wash, laser prints to name a few. Also, the textile has undergone changes. We are developing denims in jacquards, stretched fabrics, shiny material, mercerized, light weight and compact materials,” opines Dell’Erba. Environmental hazards of the garment wet processing have been a major concern for the industry for last few years. Naturally sustainable production is a key. “Lesser the water, lesser the chemicals/dyes/Auxiliaries, hence we have been constantly working on methods and recipes to curb consumption of water. Until 5 years back we used around 110 liters of water per Jeans to create the desired wash look, and today we are at 65 liters, and there is a lot more to save further. Since all our processes are engineered in cold processes, we do not need thermal energy for any wash processes, thus generating the carbon credits. Spykar uses non-hazardous chemicals in all the processes and avoid any RSL (Restricted Substance List) chemicals. All our Vendors (Manufacturing plants) have ETP(Effluent Treatment Plants), and release the effluents in norms of local pollution boards,” says Sidhartha Wilson, Denim head, Spykar Lifestyle Pvt. Ltd. “ lot of patchwork on denims, boyfriend fits and dungarees, jackets and caps has been the trends seen so far in the past one to two years. “Raver jeans, Mini denim skirts, lighter shades 70s flare and ankle cropped jeans to name some of the ongoing fall 2016 trends. Extreme acid washes, ripped surfaces, plaid patchwork; to the sweeping silhouettes, to the overload of studded embellishment are the new basics this season,” say Ashish and Aashray.
Random Bleach through cloth bits dipped in potassium permanganate/ Sodium Hypochlorite to give a vibrant fading look to the jeans is being used. “Ozone(O3) gas fading to conserve water and polluting chemicals, by avoiding water based processes and laser engraving on jeans for design/ art work marking or to create used vintage look is in. In dyeing methods we have, cold exhaust and surface dyeing systems that help the carbon credits as there is zero energy consumption. Technology is available in which water is no longer media to reach chemicals and dyes into the substrates, but the bubbles or foam are in use,” says Wilson.
The Indian denim market is growing annually at about 18% against the global average of 3-5%. Currently, the installed Denim capacity in India is 1.2-1.3 billion meters per annum. Assuming that this growth rate continues, India would need 2 billion metres of denim fabric to feed its rising fabric appetite. Per capita consumption of denim is at 0.3-0.4 pairs of jeans in comparison to 2 pairs in China and 8/9 pairs in UK/US, signifying immense growth opportunity. According to Deepak Chiripal, CEO, Nandan Denim Ltd., “the retail revolution in India is fuelling the growth of the denim fabric in India taking it to Tier I, II, III towns and cities. Consumers have begun to understand that denim offers value for money, fashion and style quotient, while maintaining versatility in the products. Denim is becoming a staple product for each wardrobe despite India having one of the lowest per capita consumption in the world that offers far more opportunities. Top 10 cities of India (with 8-9% of total population) contribute almost 50% of the denim consumption in the country while the rest of the country contributes the remaining, so growth potential is huge. Almost 85% of the market is dominated by the men fraternity with insignificant 10% contribution from the female segment while kids segment contribute 5% of the market.” Growth drivers for denim in India stems from the fact that more than 65% of the population in India is less than 35 years of age and the per capita consumption of denim is at 0.3 pairs per person in India in comparison to 2 pairs in China and 8/9 pairs in UK/US, signifying immense growth opportunity. 85% of consumption is from men segment whereas 9% from women and 6% from kids segment, the change in this demographic offers huge growth opportunities.
The Denim Lookbook
- Fits: boyfriend fits at the moment, bootcut and high waist denims are in, superslim will never go out of style because it reflects body consciousness of today.
- Treatment and Washes: lazer cuts, glitters, paint prints, distressed, stone and enzyme wash. After the overdone and over exaggerated washes, authentic old school washes are making a comeback
- Fabrics: stretch, lycra, tencel, jacquard
- Application and accessorize: patches, pins, chains and charms
This story appeared in the Feb-17 issue of Apparel Magazine here: Denims in India