Original article: Sourcing Journal

Denim has weathered quite the storm these past few years. Practically a pariah when home-bound consumers sought solace in sweatpants and loungewear, denim came roaring back post-pandemic with updated comfort, new styles and more sustainable constructions. Here, Stephanie Poon, director of marketing and merchandising for LA-based denim manufacturer Twin Dragon Marketing Inc., looks back at 2022 and gives the lowdown on what was and what will be in 2023.

Rivet: What were some of the biggest fashion trends you were addressing in 2022 and what are you working on for 2023?

Stephanie Poon (Director of marketing and merchandising for Twin Dragon Marketing Inc.): 2022 was a year of exploring unisex and ’80s/’90s nostalgia trends that manifested in wider, looser denim silhouettes with marble, cantaloupe and vintage characteristics. Soft hand and comfort remain key features in all denim. We saw the rise of carpenter and utility styles leading at the forefront and expect them to continue into the new year.

Depending on the demographic, the trends shifted slightly. Younger generations opted for wide fits, lower rise and thicker slubs, while more mature generations favored some stretch, finer slubs, high rise and straight fits.

Going into 2023, TDMI will be emphasizing colors and Ecru items. We are also continuing our mission to create and provide the most sustainable denim to our customers through eco-friendly fibers, dyes, finishes and wash processes.

What were some of the biggest challenges you (and your brand partners) faced in 2022?

Our biggest challenge in 2022 was trying to manage the boom of business in the first half of the year, then the market slowdown and downtrend of denim popularity. This year took us on a journey of highs and lows! But as a 42-year-old company, we have seen many challenges and learned how to overcome them. Every quarter and year will always be a learning experience.

How are you “future-proofing” 2023 to better deal with unexpected issues?

TDMI will continue to develop quality items from both sides of the world to offer our customers versatility for their manufacturers. We will also continue to work on easily accessible traceability for our items to ensure peace of mind for our customers and the end consumer.

What steps did you take in 2022 to use less cotton and what did you replace it with?

Our goal to use less cotton has led to the birth of our Decottonize collection. As we all know in the industry, cotton is a high-water consumption crop, so it’s only natural that we find solutions to reduce water usage. Instead of creating more cotton-forward items, we have incorporated the use of lyocell into this collection. Lyocell is a wood pulp fiber that uses less than half the amount of water that cotton needs. It grows faster and scores higher for tear resistance and tensile strength in fabric performance. For 2023, TDMI plans to continue developing more items for the evolving landscape of denim by using more green fibers like lyocell, biodegradable poly, pre-consumer cotton, hemp and linen.

Our ultimate goal is to design fabric that requires zero water usage in dyeing and production in order to minimize as much negative impact as possible.

Regarding sustainability, what were your biggest initiatives in 2022 and what are your goals for 2023?

Sustainability remains our top priority; every new development and creation has an eco-element implemented. Our biggest eco-friendly initiative in 2022 was the expansion of our sustainability ethos under three foundational pillars. The first pillar starts with fibers—the basic elements that comprise our fabrics must have a sustainable feature. Lyocell, pre-consumer recycled cotton, biodegradable and recycled polyester will play heavy roles going forward, with supporting fibers like hemp and linen for novelty items.

Our second pillar focuses on eco-friendly dyeing and finishing by the continued application of pre-reduced liquid indigo dyes and adopting the concept: less is more. It is our objective to embrace lighter indigo dye shades to attain medium to light washes more efficiently and sustainably. The less dye in the fabric equates to less energy, water and time used to wash the garment down to its final form. In addition, eco-finish is used as another sustainable tool to help our customers achieve cleaner and more defined denim characteristics while reducing water and chemical usage, and improving colorfastness.

The last pillar centers on helping our clients complete the sustainable denim cycle from start to finish by developing eco-friendly washes for their garments. The wash formulas can be transferred to any manufacturer with the tools for environmentally safe washing.

One of our goals this year is to reduce the use of cotton heavy fabrics and to switch 100 percent of our polyester to biodegradable polyester or a recycled fiber, ultimately closing the loop in circularity.

Overall, what are you most excited about in 2023?

TDMI is excited to see the denim industry evolve and expand. We look forward to new discoveries, challenges and changing trends. Exploring new sustainable technology to better help the planet is our mission and we anticipate many modern updates next year.

Thank You!

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