Here at denim dudes we love design, innovation and creativity but we also have a problem aligning those passions with our concern for the planet: why design anything new when we have way too many jeans in our wardrobes already?! But back in 2020 we had the opportunity to work with one of Europe’s leading manufacturers in sustainability: Chantuque. We designed a 15 piece range in order to experiment with their pillars in cleaner denim production, using recycled denims and hardwear, BCI cotton, significant water and energy reductions and non hazardous chemicals.

We also tapped the creativity of two talented women in the industry: Roos Brancovich of Toile De Chine and Liz Spencer of The Dogwood Dyer to translate their bespoke artistry using safe and sustainable, scalable techniques. The aim of the project was to not only show mass market designers the creative possibilities of working more sustainably but also how it doesn’t have to cost more to do better.

Denim Dudes x Chantuque / Shot by Kate Berry

Chantuque was founded back in 2004 as the brainchild of Semih Erinc & Gokhan Dogan. Today the company employs around 4000 talented and industrious individuals from London to Istanbul to Cairo and makes jeans for ASOS, Zara, Frame, Good American and Alexander Wang to name a few. They are one of the manufacturer participants in the Ellen McCarther foundation and set up the first sustainable laundry in Turkey in 2019 where they have eliminated the use of pumice stones and potassium permanganate from their production process, replacing them with ozone, e-flow and laser, and they have saved 80% of water compared to traditional laundries.  

Washes start at 80% less water with an aim to be totally waterless in 2022

Their partnership with Jeanologia and other local machinery developers to implement cutting edge machinery has contributed to their success and allows them to not only replicate finishes like acid wash in a less damaging way, but also increases efficiency and a reduction in second quality goods.

Their aim is to reach 80% sustainable production in Turkey and 40% in Egypt by 2022 and 100% in both facilities by 2023, as well as almost no water usage by 2022. We were able to use their EIM scoring software to rate each garment as we went. Here are the results!
Indigo Splash set
Non Toxic Chemicals

This set above was a whole lot of fun to design and to shoot! Created with post-covid WFH life in mind we combined a soft indigo hoody with a relaxed balloon pant and a sleeveless blazer, all in a wild bleach camo all-over effect. Chantuque used enzyme and ozone to replace stone wash and then applied a laser process in place of any bleach process. In a traditional laundry this would have a EIM of about 71.

EIM score: 26

Savings: water 64.85%, energy 24.59%, chemical 66.20%.

50% Cutting Table Scraps
Recycled 'Denim Down' Jacket and Recycled Cargo Jean
Recycled 'Denim Down' Jacket and Recycled Cargo Jean

Chantuque had just launched their new recycled fabric when we started working with them and we personally love the grey marl finish of this fabric. It’s made using their waste fabric off-cuts and produces 50 thousand meters of waste fabric every month from their Turkish production facility. With 50% recycled content in the warp yarns, the entire garment is in total made up of 30% recycled materials. This recycled fabric is held in house and is available without minimums making it easier for customers big and small to adopt this programme. They added a subtle bleach splatter effect using an Ozone (O3) machine in place of hypo-chloride or PP.

We also designed this ‘Denim Down’ jacket using some of Chantuque’s raw material for their recycled jeans to create a visual representation of reusing waste.

EIM score of 24

Savings: water 62.67%, energy 36.93%, chemical 64.29%.

Anti-Acid Wash Shirts / Left: onion dyed, right: Cochineal dyed
Anti-Acid jumpsuit and Dip Dye jumpsuit

The jumpsuit and boxy shirts were intended to look as 80’s acid as possible without using harmful chemicals and reducing water, time and energy used. They utilized biodegradable, non-hazardous chemicals and Ozone technology and to add a bit of warmth back into the bleached out spots, the pieces were overdyed using onion skins. To create this look using a traditional wash process would land you with an EIM score of about 71. 

EIM score: 31

Savings: water 49.06%, energy 20.25%, chemical 69.70%.

Chantuque used chemicals on this garment which have certifications like Bluesign or Green Screen and their producers are members of the ZDHC platform. Their chemicals have less impact for environment than other traditional chemicals like hypo or permanganate. 

Laser Cyanotype floral

Roos has been a massive inspiration to us for a long time now and it was such a pleasure and inspiration to use some of her amazing Cyanotype effects as a jumping board for this design. We went through her archives of floral prints and selected a beautiful abstract that would translate into laser. Chantuque eliminated stone wash and bleach and applied the laser, then rinsed. 

EIM score: 25

Savings: water 55.22%, energy 25.40%, chemical 69.70%.

Tee and jacket dyed by The Dogwood Dyer

We have researched and written a lot about natural dyes over recent years and its work like Liz’s that helps to visualise and educate the masses. Liz surprised us with this vibrant hot pink that you’d never associate with natural dye, derived from Cochineal. In Liz’s words: “Cochineal is extracted from a special species of insect commonly used in the cosmetics and food industries as a safe and renewable alternative to petrochemical derived synthetic colorants. A small amount of this dye goes a long way!- Just a few ounces were able to create all the dye neccessary to dye pounds of heavy denim and cotton for this collaboration”

"The knowledge and strength of the dye is all due to the ancestral stewardship of the native peoples of Oaxaca and Peru where the farming and use of cochineal as a dye originates. To learn more I highly recommend the workshops and offerings of Porfirio Guttierez and Canaturex"

— Liz Spencer, The Dogwood Dyer

Cochineal Dyed tee and shirt
Cochineal Dyed jacket

Waste was an integral component in this project and we were keen to tap Chantuque for any sample waste that they had from Covid cancelled orders. They created this jersey/ denim fused hoody using leftover waste and we gave it some extra destruction with a dremel tool! During this process we had an early sample of a classic 5 pocket jean with laser effect so, in the interests of zero waste, we went about customising it using decorative hand stitch and patch and repair. We used some of Roos’ original cyanotype as well as scraps accumulated during this project.

Re-purposed hoody and customised jean
Re-purposed hoody and customised jean

Thank you to the Chantuque team for letting us loose in their sustainable laundry and trying out techniques and challenges that marry inspiration with innovation. The denim laundry of the future is an exciting place!

Goals: a wasteless future
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Trend forecaster, denim designer, industry journalist and author of Denim Dudes.