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M&S develops jeans with focus on sustainability

Feb '20
Pic: Marks & Spencer
Pic: Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer (M&S) works towards the betterment of people and planet, and hence, focuses on imbibing sustainability in jeans. The company believes that sustainable style is firstly about designing quality clothes made to last, and denim is a great material as it is durable and hard wearing. M&S is a major British multinational retailer, based in the UK.

However, producing jeans does use large amounts of water, growing cotton can be water intensive and industrial washing of denim has historically used significant amounts of water to get the finish right. Customers are concerned about sustainability, hence M&S is on a mission to reduce water and chemical use each season. The new jeans launched this Spring, including the recently launched Magic Jeans, use less water in the washing process than conventional jeans.

The fabric used in jeans is an important consideration. Today, 100 per cent of the cotton sourced for all M&S clothing (including denim) is organic, recycled, or responsibly sourced from BCI, the Better Cotton Initiative. BCI supports farmers to develop more efficient production process, increase their yield, and reduce water usage.

“With jeans, the company also has a great opportunity to reuse resources. The new super-soft fits bought out in Autumn 2019 had 100 per cent of the polyester made from recycled plastic bottles from a company called Unifi who makes Repreve yarn. Each super soft denim jean contains the equivalent of around ten plastic bottles. The yarn is created by melting down waste plastic bottles and builds on our wider efforts to tackle plastic usage by reducing, reusing and recycling,” Sarah Danbury, denim technologist at M&S wrote on the website.

“I’m close to the whole end-to-end process of making jeans and I know that lots of customers care not just about what makes up their jeans – but who makes them. I’ve had some amazing visits to factories that make M&S jeans – the majority of which are in Bangladesh. All of the factories adhere to our Global Sourcing Principles which put simply guarantee good working conditions and fair pay. But we’re also proud of those who go above and beyond. Factories we work with are supporting projects across themes including health, gender empowerment and wage digitisation,” Danbury added.

“A lot of effort goes into our jeans and our denim is designed to be loved and to last – but we also continue to encourage customers to give their jeans a second life if they do purchase new ones – by dropping their jeans in one of our in-store shwop boxes – the jeans can then be re-sold by Oxfam or recycled. It’s a simple way customers can truly make sure their jeans are doing some good,” Danbury added.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (GK)

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