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Oldest Mexican textile player emphasizes use of biodegradable fibers in denim

Mexican fabric developer Tavex which was established in 1846 as a textile company and now specializes in denim argues that the denim industry should have a preferential option for biodegradable fibres.

It is one of the oldest and most experienced textile companies in the region. It is renowned for its innovative denim fabrics, catering to the fashion industry’s demand for quality and style. Tavex places a strong emphasis on sustainability, incorporating eco-friendly practices and materials into its production processes. This includes using organic cotton and implementing water and energy-saving techniques.

The company incorporates recycled fibers and materials into its fabric production, contributing to a circular economy. With its long history and dedication to quality, Tavex has played a significant role in shaping the textile industry in Mexico and beyond. The company’s forward-thinking approach to fabric development and sustainability continues to influence industry standards and practices.

Tavex has reached the conclusion that reasserting a preference for biodegradable fibres will help the industry address its contribution to the fashion sector’s carbon footprint. It points out that processing fibres, creating fabrics from them, washing and finishing the fabric, turning the fabric into a pair of jeans, transporting the garment to the consumer’s home, then washing the jeans after a certain number of wears and, finally, disposing of them at the end of their useful life. It all counts. And, according to Tavex’s head of sales, Alicia León, any method for improving any aspect of the denim eco-system is worthy of serious consideration.

Tavex’s representative revealed that 39,000 tonnes of garments are arriving in Chile every year and that the country is being used “almost as a dumping ground” for second-hand clothes, produced in Bangladesh and China for retail groups and consumers in Europe and the US.
Making a biodegradable product starts with the raw materials. Two of the three types of fibre Tavex has identified as biodegradable, are natural and man made cellulosic fibres. Only one type is not biodegradable, synthetic fibres deriving from non-renewable resources.
But two-thirds of all the clothes being manufactured globally now are made from those synthetic materials.

Back in 2014, a real-life example of denim clothing that was free from any non-biodegradable fibres, created by Swiss brand Freitag. The Zurich-based clothing brand wanted to source tough, sustainably produced and, crucially, compostable material that was made in Europe. It could not find anything on the market at the time that met its needs, so it decided to develop its own, starting from the fibre up, calling the programme F-ABRIC. It included sweatshirts, T-shirts, work trousers, overalls and jeans.

This programme ran through 2023, but will not continue now as Freitag turns its circular-economy focus to other types of product. At the time of writing, the company was selling off the last of its F-ABRIC products, including the final pairs of jeans for women and men. These jeans were made from the brand’s own denim twill, with a composition of 81 percent linen and 19 percent hemp. The fibres were grown in Europe, the denim fabric was woven in Italy and the finished garment construction took place in Poland.

Translating all of this to the hustle and bustle of making fabric and finished garments for fashion brands with exacting demands would probably prove challenging for any company, but Tavex is working to adopt sustainable practices as completely as it can.

Looking for products that will last a long time and that may be wearable by new owners further down the line is a good starting point. Then, eventually, if these products have come from the earth originally (in the form of natural raw materials), it would be good if they could return to the earth at the end of life.

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