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Craftsmanship in the denim industry is a skill honed by meticulous care and attention to detail and in pursuit of it, Kaihara Denim became one of Japan’s most renowned denim mills, recognized for their mastery of indigo-dyeing.
Born in 1893, Kaihara has had a hand in preserving some of the oldest, traditional denim production techniques and firmly believes in “building on the old ways” to create modern, high-quality denim for today’s consumers. Exemplifying this is the company’s latest collaboration with TENCEL™ and textiles technology Jeanologia, a curated collection that elevates three decades of partnerships into new milestones.
Dennis Hui, Global Business Development Manager, Denim at Lenzing sits down with us to discuss the collection and explores how TENCEL™ brand enables its mill partners carry their legacy into the modern era.
Tell us more about the partnership between Kaihara and Lenzing.
Kaihara has been a long-term partner of ours since 1994, when TENCEL™ was first introduced to the Japanese market. Historically, our mill partners have chosen to incorporate TENCEL™ fibers in their fabrics not only focusing on sustainability aspect, but also due to their natural softness and Kaihara is no different, particularly as the company ramped up efforts to increase the versatility of their designs and expand beyond traditional boundaries of denim manufacturing.
For us, a partner like Kaihara demonstrates how our fibers can be used in the premium or high-end segment. Kaihara is recognized for its world-class denim fabrics, so their use of our fibers is particularly significant, disrupting the industry’s conventional reliance on synthetics and showcasing the versatile applications of wood-based fibers to create high quality and time-tested denim fabrics.
How has this latest collaboration come about?
We’re extremely proud to celebrate the milestones we have achieved in our partnership with Kaihara through our latest collection. The collection, a specially curated collection of several denim garments, is brought to life by both TENCEL™ Lyocell and TENCEL™ Modal and incorporates finishing technologies by textile firm Jeanologia to showcase our fibers in a range of authentic Kaihara denim aesthetics with versatile functions.
The collaboration takes great care to combine heritage with innovation. How was this achieved with the help of TENCEL™ fibers and Jeanologia technology?
In this collaboration with Kaihara, we wanted to celebrate the intricate craftmanship and tradition that is makes Japanese denim so distinctive to the world, while simultaneously employing the innovations in fiber production that Lenzing has long championed. This collaboration aims to bring Kaihara’s well-established craftsmanship to international markets and highlight the manufacturing background of the fabrics while also taking care to consider the growing preference for denim fabrics with softer texture and natural softness that are made of alternative fibers like TENCEL™. As such, we also employed various Jeanologia technology including its eNano and G2 technologies, as suitable washes play a significant role in providing a natural denim look. These technologies also allowed for reduced water and chemicals usage and the absence of potassium permanganate, making a comparative environmentally friendly impact on denim washing process in the industry.
Moreover, TENCEL™ Lyocell and Modal fiber production processes are continuously refined to maximize resource efficiency and minimize environmental impact at every stage. Consequently, the carbon emissions and water consumption of TENCEL™ fibers are up to 50% lower compared to generic lyocell and modal fibers. The partnership between TENCEL™ and Kaihara was a perfect pairing as it weaves in Kaihara’s heritage and indigo-dyeing know how with the innovative production of TENCEL™ fibers.
Are there any future trends or developments you see in the denim sector?
Sustainability continues to be a driving force and we will continue to witness a shift towards zero or reduced cotton denim fabrics that minimize water consumption and chemical usage. As circularity is also a key area of development, there continues to be an exploration in fiber recycling initiatives like the Fiber Recycling Initiative by TENCEL™, which seeks to bring new life to pre-consumer lyocell waste.