By Samuel Joseph

It was a roller-coaster ride for the global denim industry in the last two- and-a-half years. Covid came & is still lingering as a messy rubble. In Ukraine crisis is turning into a worse wreckage. West & some of East are struggling in an incipient catastrophe. World economy is showing signs of a, however small, emergency. Cotton, the larger raw material base of denim industry, floundered in recent unprecedented muddle. But Industry world over is holding tight to high hopes & new dreams, anxiously awaiting a resurgence. So, is the global and Indian denim industry.

The denim market is expected to witness market growth at a rate of 6.7% in the forecast period of 2022 to 2029. The global jeans market is expected to register a CAGR of 6.7% during the forecast period (2020-2025).

The rise in the consumer disposable income levels is escalating the growth of denim market.The global denim jeans market size was valued at $56.2 billion in 2020, and is projected to reach $88.1 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 4.2% from 2021 to 2030.Rise in spending capacity, per capita consumption of the denim jeans, consciousness regarding the cloths suitable for the body types and acceptance for casual wears for office work is likely to garner the growth of the denim jeans market. In addition, increase in disposable income in the developing countries of Asia-Pacific, such as India and China, has increased the expenditure on personal grooming and clothing, which further drives the growth of the global denim jeans market share, according to Allied Market Research.

A ‘sturdy fabric’ possibly driving its origins from France with a close predecessor named dungaree from India, denim is most commonly an indigo dyed cotton textile. With around half of the population on earth wearing it at any given point of time, this classic indigo blue fabric is considered to be unique and has evolved to be a fabric of the masses and a quintessential American garment.With the demand of denim continuing to grow, the annual global production of denim is 15 billion metres with half of the production coming from Asian countries like China, India, Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh. China is the largest exporter of denim accounting for around 64% of the world’s total, followed by Pakistan, says Mr. Jitender Kumar, Vice President – Raw Materials (Fibres),Sutlej Textiles & Industries Limited, Mumbai(Full interview in TVC July Issue). He adds: “The use of hemp fibres as an ecological and cheap alternative … The rotor spinning process is adopted for the production of hemp yarns….Recycling and embedding circularity in denim is adding a unique sustainability punch to this most popular attire. In addition to fresh sustainable fibres, recycled fibres (both cotton and polyester from pre-consumer and/or post-consumer wastes) are getting extensively used in denim manufacturing.”

Currently, all denim is made out of cotton fibres or blends with high cotton content using a twill weave. However, denim has a poor environmental balance sheet, which starts with the planting of the cotton needed for it and continues with the high-water consumption and use of chemicals. Therefore, in order to reduce the emissions caused by these, possible alternatives are being sought. A possible alternative, which is considered is the use of hemp fibres to substitute cotton, reveals a paper from the Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University. “…. The rotor spinning process is adopted for the production of hemp yarns….In a cross-border project of Germany and the Netherlands named regional hemp chain for textile production, a jeans fabric could be produced with hemp fibres broken down by steam pressure. The yarn was spun on slightly modified rotor spinning machines. However, 50% cotton was added for better processability” adds the paper.(Full Paperin July 2022 issue),

Denim exports were at $316 million in the year 2016-17, recording a fall of 11% from the previous year. The fall in exports was despite the industry witnessing the massive installation of denim plants from 2014 – 2019. However, the Indian denim mills have shown strong growth when it comes to denim exports which have led to a certain level of stability in the domestic markets as well. The domestic denim fabric consumption in 2021 was 750-800 million meters growing at an annual rate of 12% per annum. Currently, the situation is normal with no notable supply-demand imbalance on either the domestic or global levels, says Dr. S N Modani, Founder & Managing Director, Sangam India Ltd, whose journey in denim started in 1984. “We already have Backward Integration. The majority of our yarns are already produced in-house courtesy of our open-end rotors, ring spinning, and texturizing machine,” adds Modani. (Full interview in TVC July Issue).

The essence of reports TVC reviewed recently is captured below. (Subscribe to TVC July issue to read the Cover Story on Denim)

With the demand of denim continuing to rise, the annual global production of denim is 15 billion metres with half of the production coming from Asian countries like China, India, Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh. China is the largest exporter of denim accounting for around 64% of the world’s total, followed by Pakistan. The market share of denim in cotton fabric imports by volume has ranged from 21% to 24% in the last 5 years and its market share in cotton fabric exports by volume ranged from 14% to 26% in the last 10 years. With a current market size of around US$ 57.3 billion in 2020, the market value is projected to reach US$ 76.1 billion in 2026 growing at a CAGR of over 4.8%.

Conventionally, produced from 100% cotton and dyed from natural indigo, today’s denim is a highly transformed new generation fabric. Since today’s discerning customers of denim clothing desire lot of aesthetic appeal, fit, wearing comfort, performance, and sustainability in all aspects of its production, numerous advances in fibre and textile technology are presenting newer concepts in denim. The highly flexible fashion denims are now worn bydiverse people with assorted tastes. They are available in different varieties (stretch to bio-polished), colours (vegetable-based, indigo to sulphur dyed), fibre blends (most recent being softer, lighter, comfy silk for all weather denims), textures, drapes and embodimentssuitable to the recent ‘athleisure’ trend.

Ring spinning remains the leader in yarn manufacturing for denim fabrics, though experts anticipate growth in open-end spinning with an increased use of recycled fibres. Ring and Open-end core spun, elastic ply yarns, multi-component and bi-component synthetic filament yarns are put to use generally to provide stretch. Slubs and multi-count yarns are utilised to provide fancy effects to the denim fabric. Knitted denim, embedding conducting fibres and composite materials into denim, robotic cutting and sewing for higher quality garments, 3D-printed jeans are some of the inventions, holdinggreat the potential to transform the denim industry. Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 3D visualisation in the design process and to study trends and improve retail interface are also in vogue. Catchphrases of the current time in denim,

According to Messe Frankfurt sources, Innovative, fashionable, sustainable will define the Denim Show as the industry got together to showcase their prowess at its first-ever Mumbai edition from 12 – 14 May 2022 at the newly launched Jio World Convention Centre (JWCC) in BKC.

Leading brands such as Hyosung India, Jindal Worldwide, Arvind, Ginni International, Raymond UCO Denim, Bhaskar Denim, LNJ Denim, Oswal Denims, KG Denim, Nandan Denim, and Ashima Group among others participated for the Mumbai launch. The show was jointly organised by Messe Frankfurt Trade Fairs India Pvt Ltd and Mex Exhibitions Pvt Ltd under the umbrella of GartexTexprocess India, and cover the latest developments in textile, garment machinery and screen printing with the objective to encourage investments, new market development and enable India to be a globally competitive textile and denim manufacturing destination.

The last few years have redefined the textile industry with the denim sector going through a big revamp in terms of the fits and fabric constructions. While a significant portion of womenswear denim has hauled from high stretch fabrics to more of comfort stretch and rigid classic 80s denim, fits as well moving from skinny to more relaxed and flared, menswear denim on the contrary is edging towards comfort to stretch fabrics with clean & basic washes. Hand-feel plays an important role for all segments which implies the need of superior spinning techniques, finer counts and blends. Overdyed, tinted and coloured jeans are some of the key fashion products continuing from last few seasons.

According to one of India’s top denim fabric manufacturers LNJ Denim, the domestic market is still dominated by faux knit fabrics but with recent escalations in the cost of key ingredients, LNJ Denim expect a shift towards more classic and authentic denim but with superior hand feel and saturation. In terms of shades, vintage & versatile pure indigos are back because of emphasis on clean and mild washes with raw look for basics while distressed and bleached denim in the high fashion product for all genders and age groups.

Head of Marketing at Raymond UCO, Mr Sudhir Deorukhkar explains: “These are small steps in the right direction towards creating more responsible denim fabrics that reduces the gap between fashion and sustainability. These fabrics can be crafted into a luxurious and versatile garment collection for eco-conscious consumers.” Raymond UCO has curated a special denim collection that offers ultimate comfort, breathability, and moisture management while also being environment-friendly, which will be seen at the Denim Show.

Adding to this, Mr Ashish Bhatnagar, Marketing Head, LNJ Denim said: “With our commitment and responsibility towards the environment, sustainability is more of hygiene for us now with persistent developments and focuses across various functional stages of fabric process.” The brand focuses on functional, sustainable and superior hand-feel denim fabrics made possible through various blends, spinning as well as finish innovations which will also be on display at the three-day Denim Show in Mumbai.

(In our forthcoming July Issue, Read more exclusive interviews from the Textile Value Chain. )

The flood of innovations in fibres and their blends, yarn diversities, stretch fibre use, weaving systems and fabric structures are all lending new hopes to make denim an even more looked-for fabric grading higher on fashion and performance platform.