Also announcing an expansion of the Fabrica X impact retail concept across Hong Kong and globally
HONG KONG SAR 16 November 2023 – Fabrica X, the Impact Retail Store operated by The Mills Fabrica, today launches its new campaign, Denim Futures. With support from sponsors including Levi’s® and Advance Denim, Denim Futures will put the spotlight on new innovations and efforts around denim sustainability over the course of the next eight months.
By now, many consumers and businesses are aware that the traditional denim industry has caused tremendous environmental impacts. From cotton cultivation to yarn dyeing to garment manufacturing, denim production depletes freshwater resources, with each pair of jeans using 3,781L of water, and emitting 33.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq)1. However, as a wardrobe staple, denim’s popularity will continue to soar.
The Mills Fabrica was grown out of Nan Fung Group’s textile legacy in Hong Kong, especially in the denim production sector. The Mills, where The Mills Fabrica is located, was revitalized from a keen cotton mill that ventured into denim production in the 1980s. With a long history of engaging in the denim industry, The Mills Fabrica proudly presents Denim Futures to Fabrica X as its latest Impact Retail campaign. Riding on its momentum from the last two showcases — Biomaterials and Plastic Circularity, it aims to bring more awareness to consumers and introduce alternative sustainable supply chain players to businesses. The new campaign is also a part of its celebrations of five years of accelerating innovations, development, and adoption in the techstyle (the intersection between technology and lifestyle) sector.
Advancing the future of denim through innovation and public education
“As a techstyle VC and accelerator, denim has been a big focus for us given its universal popularity and also impact on the environment. Our goal is to bring together our portfolio companies, partners, and connections from every step of the supply chain to not only showcase the future of denim, but also celebrate the progress and commitment to the cause,” said Cintia Nunes, General Manager, Head of Asia, The Mills Fabrica.
“Now is the time to leverage the public’s increasing awareness of traditional denim’s adverse environmental impact and give them more reasons to support sustainable denim products. The Denim Futures campaign at Fabrica X provides a behind-the-scenes look at the incredibly innovative and creative denim technologies. And at the same time, we also call for support from every ecosystem player, from retailers, manufacturers to consumers, to accelerate the scalability and accessibility of sustainable denim, bringing the future of denim one step closer.”
The new campaign in Fabrica X was designed to provide a unique opportunity for consumers to learn the entire supply chain lifecycle of the denim industry through seeing and touching new material innovations, with also the opportunity to purchase sustainable denim products from a curated range of retailers. The upcycling workshop and 3D digitalization experience at Fabrica X’s Denim Lab area will also provide visitors with hands-on experience of how the future of denim would look like.
Introducing alternative sustainable supply chain players to businesses
The showcase was made possible with the effort of ecosystem partners from various parts of the denim supply chain lifecycle – from design, materials production, and denim production, to end-of-life solutions. This includes two key sponsors Levi’s® and Advance Denim. Levi’s® has been dedicated to reducing its environmental impact through its sustainable WellThread® collections, and Advance Denim – as the oldest denim mill in China, established a new production model, including its water-saving BigBox Dyeing and plant-based Botanic Dyes, with environmental protection and recycling resources as the prerequisite for development. Other supporters include long-time partner Lenzing Group, supplier of TENCEL™ fibers, and known for its ecologically responsible production of specialty fibers made from renewable raw material, wood.
Ecosystem partners will also demonstrate how the denim industry could tackle sustainability challenges with disruptive solutions. This includes The Mills Fabrica’s portfolio companies, such as unspunTM – a sustainable fashion company that creates personalized and low-impact denim using 3D body scanning to achieve zero finished inventory; Circ – which pioneered a chemical recycling technology that can recycle polycotton – the one of the most common fabric blends used in clothing – into reusable fibers; and Renewcell, with a recycling technology that breaks down used cotton and other cellulose-rich textiles and transforms them into a new, biodegradable raw material: CIRCULOSE® pulp. In 2022, the innovative pulp was adapted by Levi’s® with an aim to bring sustainable denim to the masses.
“We hope to drive more awareness on denim sustainability in Hong Kong through our collaboration with The Mills Fabrica this time. There are a lot of design solutions in Levi’s® that allow denim production to be less wasteful,” said James Chang, Senior Marketing Manager TW & HK, Levi’s®.
“We really appreciate the Denim Futures campaign that The Mills Fabrica curated, showing the solutions to the sustainable denim production chain, as well as how consumers can treat their jeans in a more sustainable way. At Advance Denim, we share the same mission as The Mills Fabrica, to encourage industry-wide innovations for the sustainable development of the sector. For example, we have recently collaborated with Gracell X CIRCULOSE®. by Renewcell on viscose staple fiber made with a 50% blend of CIRCULOSE® pulp made from recycled textiles. With collaborative efforts, we hope to make denim one of the most sustainable fabrics in the world,” said Michael Lam, Director, Advance Denim.
As sustainable denim requires the participation of the entire ecosystem, carefully selected retail brands were invited to take part in the campaign, such as – M.ATO, a Hong Kong brand that combines the traditional Japanese techniques of natural indigo dyeing, sashiko stitching, and upcycled boro patchwork to create unique indigo pieces; Story Wear, a Taiwanese social enterprise that upcycles denim waste by skilled makers from disadvantaged backgrounds; Sophie Hawkins, a London-based workshop that produces sustainable jumpsuits with circular manufacture process in Japan, making sure that the product can be upcycled into a new product and eventually biodegradable at the end of its life; and klee klee, a Shanghai-based brand that emphasizes on minimalism and low-impact production to create high-impact denim products.
In addition to the supply chain and retail partners, Fashionary, a Hong Kong company that designs and produces practical tools for professional fashion designers and fashionistas, as well as The Magic of Denim Consultancy, an advocate of denim sustainability and circularity within the APAC region, are the campaign’s Knowledge Partners – ensuring that educational contents used in the campaign are verified, impactful, and not susceptible to greenwashing.
Fabrica X on the move – expanding beyond Hong Kong and London
The Denim Futures campaign succeeds the Biomaterials showcase, which celebrates new materials regenerated from organic waste through nature-based, biological processes to create more sustainable products. The campaign received positive feedback from the public, with over half (66%) of surveyed participants agreeing that they should be more considerate about clothing materials, while a vast majority (73%) are willing to pay a 10% premium or more for sustainable products.
To bring accessibility and education to wider audiences of different demographics, past Fabrica X campaigns will go on a roadshow around Hong Kong – Biomaterials, and Plastic Circularity, are now moved to Nan Fung Place (Sheung Wan), and AIRSIDE (Kai Tak) respectively for display.
The Mills Fabrica is also planning to further amplify the impact retail store concept by launching Fabrica X at more global locations, in addition to its innovation gallery in London.
1Levi’s Lifecycle Assessment Report 2015: The environmental input for jeans could differ significantly depending on the type of inputs used in the lifecycle assessment and the scope of the lifecycle assessment.