Textiles must innovate with transparency


Fashion feeds off celebrity, turning names into brands. Sustainability, in contrast, is effectively a team sport where everybody has skin in the game, says Ebru Ozkucuk Guler, head of sustainability and corporate social responsibility at ISKOTM.

“As global citizens we all carry a responsibility to consume less, but better, and as consumers we are waking up to the impact of our choices. There is also, though, a clear call for leadership at the design phase, to signal intent and inform demand,” she says.

Heeding the call, as the largest denim manufacturer under one roof in the world, ISKOTM is acutely aware of its responsibilities to both the planet and its people, and the company can prove it.

Verification: the label behind the label

Third-party certification is a cornerstone of the company’s eco credentials and the approach to validation at ISKOTM is rigorous and comprehensive. This is the substance behind the style.

With the modern textile industry better equipped than ever to leverage data in support of standards and accountability, independent third-party audits play a pivotal role in helping to build trust and boost transparency.

As global citizens we all carry a responsibility to consume less, but better, and as consumers we are waking up to the impact of our choices

“It is important to speak a common language when it comes to sustainability, by providing reliable, verifiable information throughout the value chain and ultimately to the end-consumer,” says Guler. “The industry as it stands is too opaque. Fashion must find that common language and learn to collaborate.”

Transparency and traceability are the supply chain attributes that together give brands and consumers the visibility they crave. For sustainability, they are the label behind the label.ISKO data

Underpinning every end-product is the associated production facility, where a certified environmental management system, or EMS, ensures robust measurement and monitoring of impacts, including energy, water, waste, chemicals and emissions.

This all-in attitude is the stuff of world firsts. Having obtained life-cycle assessments (LCAs) for every one of its 25,000 products, ISKOTM became the only denim manufacturer ever to obtain pre-certified environmental product declarations (EPDs).

These EPDs verify data on the water usage and carbon footprint per square metre of fabric, providing buyers and customers with proof, plus confidence in the choices they make.

R-TWOTM: reused and recycled

At ISKOTM, the epitome of the sustainable evolution in denim is the R-TWOTM programme. With R-TWOTM, ISKOTM applies the classic waste hierarchy to production processes and resource consumption to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover, in order of priority.

This is no mere efficiency drive, however. In the spirit of the commitment to responsible innovation at ISKOTM, R-TWOTM fully embraces circular-economy principles to cut loss and waste, by blending reused cotton and recycled polyester. Working with reused cotton sees ISKOTM pioneering significant impact reduction.

The reason this is important is that when raw cotton is processed into yarn, some 10 per cent is typically expected to be lost as waste. With R-TWOTM, however, ISKOTM differentiates its offering by working continually to trace, track and monitor this loss and reuse the cotton by adding it back into the spinning process. Validated by a third party, all this reused cotton is content claim standard (CCS) certified.

ISKOTM then blends certified recycled materials with the reused cotton to create R-TWOTM. This is a veritable win-win for sustainability, as producing recycled polyester uses less energy than making virgin material and lessens the dependence on petroleum. Both factors reduce the overall carbon footprint and, depending on the percentage of certified recycled polyester, the R-TWOTM fabric can either be global recycle standard (GRS) or recycled claim standard (RCS) certified.

Material reuse is key for ISKOTM, especially cotton. Guler says: “Our main aim here is to factor the ‘loss’ back into production in a traceable way via third-party audits. Our end-goal, however, is ultimately zero waste, both in raw-material supply and in our post-production results.”

Organic cotton: facing COVID-19

For fashion, ISKOTM and the world at large, of course, 2020 has proved a year like no other. The coronavirus pandemic has brought many challenges, but also sparked innovation and fostered collaboration in response to
societal emergency.

ISKOTM was inspired to act by evidence of a rapidly emerging need for high-quality face covers for the general public. These were required to be manufactured on a large scale, so as not to disrupt the supply of medical masks reserved for frontline clinical staff.

To meet this demand, ISKOTM created the ISKO VitalTM + business, leveraging the firm’s global reputation as an innovator in the manufacture of specialist high-grade sustainable cotton fabrics.

The result is the Supreme face cover for day-to-day use, made with a patented four-fold design from ISKO VitalTM +.

A groundbreaking fabric, created in-house by research and development (R&D) experts, ISKO VitalTM + is both fluid repellent and highly effective at filtering bacteria. Its integrated sanitised technology gives an additional level of protection against COVID-19.

Furthermore, these attributes are all achieved via a single layer of organic cotton, dermatologically tested and OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified, making this pioneering face cover perform well for both breathability
and wearability.

In a major gain for sustainability, the Supreme face covers are also reusable. They can be hand or machine washed up to 30 times, which helps combat waste generated by single-use disposable masks.

This commitment to creating face covers is no temporary fix. Establishment of a separate arm to the business, along with significant investment in a dedicated R&D lab, production and infrastructure, as well as global public relations and marketing, shows the long-term commitment made by ISKOTM to helping society find sustainable solutions to new and ongoing global health risks.

This is sustainability in fashion and in action. Guler concludes: “Sustainability is paramount to business as we see it today, not just as an essential management system for the textile industry, but for livelihoods globally. It is, in essence, a long-lasting and harmonious relationship with the natural resources we utilise responsibly and the social impact of our actions.”

For more information please visit ISKOdenim.com