The New Denim Project is an innovative product line developed by Iris Textiles, an industrial textile group operating in Guatemala since 1956. The Engelberg family has been running the company ever since its foundation, and in 2013 was rejuvenated by their third generation Arianne and her father Jaime who co-founded the New Denim Project. Their aim was simple; to promote a zero waste industrial system, where denim scraps from local factories are turned into premium quality products, transforming their old family business into a modern, eco-friendly platform, and profitable for local economy.
‘Sustainability is not a trend, it’s an obligation’ says Arianne, and indeed when you learn that on the 13 millions tons of textiles wasted every year, only 15% are recovered for recycling, you understand that the necessity of rethinking the textile industry is very real. Other interesting facts; 8, 500 liters of water are required to produce one pair of jeans, and 2, 600 liters just for one single t-shirt, while up-cycling allows to save up to 20 000 liters per kilogram of material.
So how does this work? Well, first of all denim and cotton wastes are collected from local factories before to be ground back into fibers and then spun into yarns and textiles. No chemicals or dyes are used during the process, limiting any form of toxic pollution as much as possible. Then wastes from the New Denim Project factory are up-cycled a second time while final cotton waste that cannot be spun anymore are donated to farmer to be used as compost waste to create organic fertilizer.
The ethical approach of the New Denim Project doesn’t limit itself to developing sustainable means of production, but also goes toward creating a healthy and safe work environment for all their employees. Labor practices in the factory are 100% compliant with Guatemala’s laws and regulations while the administration department liaise regularly with the Workers Union to insure employees’ well-being. This should of course be the minimum expectation however as we all know so many factories around the world fail these standards, to have a guarantee of compliance can leave our minds at rest.
Since the release of their Jersey Be Good, and Mixtape yarn, Wool and the Gang has shown a clear interest in developing and promoting sustainable and high quality yarns. Teaming up with New Denim Project gave them the best opportunity to create a unique denim and cotton blend, with all the ecological advantages carried by up-cycled products. From this fruitful partnership is born Billy Jean Yarn. A beautiful Aran yarn, with a subtle colour palette limited to 3 shades: Raw Denim, Dirty Denim and Washed Out Denim. Denim is essentially made from cotton, and so like any other cotton yarn, Billie Jean would be just perfect to create light weight summer tops like the Beach Tank or Flex top. Ultimately cotton doesn’t stretch as would normally do a wool blend, so it’s also a great fiber to knit accessories like bags, or any items requiring sturdy yarns. Please note that denim tends to slightly fade during the first wash and might have a small amount of colour transfer.
Maybe you’ve already had the pleasure to play with some Billie Jean on your needles? If so do not hesitate to share your opinion on the comment box bellow.
Until Next Time… Happy Kitting!