Soorty Denim has some very big ambitions when it comes to jeans. The Pakistani mill is focusing on innovation to achieve its self-set goal of becoming a global leader of all things denim – and it has something of an ace up its sleeve.

At the NASDA development centre in Çorlu, Soorty’s staff in white coats are bustling around its denim-focused production hub. The lab, which opened in 2016, is intended to help create faster, more consistent and more sustainable jeans manufacturing for its denim clients which include everyone from UK highstreet brands like Topman to LA’s premium denim labels like Re/Done and Frame. The facility came about after Levi’s consolidated its innovation department back to San Francisco to what is now known as the Eureka Lab. Previously Levi’s Vintage Clothing was creating its collections out of Çorlu, and when they pulled out, Soorty saw the opportunity to take on the factories skilled workforce for its new innovation centre. Eda Dikmen, Soorty’s Marketing & Communications Manager Marketing, says that the lab which is just an hour drive from Istanbul, was created as a space for international brands and designers to experiment with denim, develop capsule collections and pioneer game changing innovation.

“When our clients visit NASDA we can create the outfits, trial washes and react and adapt to the scenario quickly. It’s really about working hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder to really help them in that sense.”

Dikmen highlights that NASDA is not only a space for product development but also R&D for Soorty’s wider innovations.

“Many innovations we have at Soorty come from our trials from experimenting here. The whole team here is small but everyone knows what they are doing and everyone is passionate and dedicated to denim.”

The facility features state-of-the-art technology that allow Soorty’s clients to reimagine production processes in terms of innovation and sustainability. The lab is staffed by around 20 skilled technicians that specialise in cut and sew and wash which allow just about any denim idea to be created under one roof.

The staff here spend day after day trying to discover new things and create new laundries, techniques and innovations so it’s also helping us find new innovations. I’m glad to say we are able to position ourselves as an innovation breeder.” says Dikmen.

Traditional “dry” processes to finish denim products – pre-wear, whiskering, holes and so on – have been replaced with laser technology. This is more sustainable, as no chemicals are used in the process, and no dust is created. It is also quicker – finishing a pair of jeans using lasers takes under two minutes, compared with up to 40 minutes of hand scraping. A host of different technologies are also used at the centre to wash jeans and create the desired finish. Tonello machines, which uses minuscule “nano-bubbles” to dye, soften and fade garments, reduce consumption from 75 litres to under 25 litres of water used in standard methods. Ozone gas gives jeans a faded effect without using traditional chemicals and lightens indigo in 15 minutes, compared with 45 minutes using chemicals and stone-washing.

To take these methods further, Soorty’s main manufacturing hub in Pakistan feature the same technologies on offer at the NASDA lab to achieve the same results during bulk production.

While innovation and sustainability are at the heart of the Soorty business, worker ethics are also one of the core values which the company prides itself on. This year the company embarked on a special project with us at Denim Dudes to celebrate ‘Women in Denim’ and highlight the incredible female characters throughout the denim supply chain. Speaking on the companies equality values and inspiration behind the female entrepreneur project with us at Denim Dudes, Dikmen said:

“The denim industry is heavily dominated by men, while at the same time targeting mainly women. There are so many incredible women along the value chain all around the world – from the beautiful ladies who harvest cotton from the field to those weaving fabric, from merchandisers to designers, sewing operators to sales or communications managers…. The roles, positions or locations might change, yet all these women around the world perform their art, passion and business in a uniquely precious way. This is the foundation of the project we’ve designed with Denim Dudes when planning Women In Denim – we’ve wanted to curate a collective story of all the different women in denim, whether they are at the backstage of the supply chain, or closer to the customer like our guests.”

For this special project, Denim Dudes and Soorty invited four denim female entrepreneurs with their very own, exclusive style to work with Soorty at NASDA lab on a special design project. Each of the women were asked to design a full outfit to represent them – what they stand for when it comes to denim, what they think, feel, speak for. This, also became a great vehicle to discover and show how versatile denim is as a fabric; and how it can be used as a canvas to represent so many different styles, looks and attributes.

As well as highlighting the four women from across the industry, this project also acted as a catalyst for Soorty to promote female empowerment throughout their own business. Speaking on the project NASDA’s General Manager of Operations Ebru Kurtça commented

“For this project we will show not only the women in the industry but in the heart of Soorty business as a whole. We would like to use this project in Turkey to highlight and make the women working at Soorty visible to our Pakistani side of the business where we are growing our female workforce, not only the production but also merchandising and management departments.”

During the workshop, each of the four women; Alexis, Harmony, Ani and Maria (read about each of them here) got to work with the NASDA team which included pattern cutters, sewing technicians and wash specialist to help realise their garments and work on fit and wash and finishes live at the factory. Despite having four very different styles (check out their design ideas here) each of the ladies highlighted sustainability considerations as being of paramount importance when deciding on fabrics, finishes and design. Of course the NASDA team knew exactly what to offer them. Here we take a look at the creative process that went on during the two days at NASDA and we highlight the talented women that made the magic happen.