New Blue is a new way of manufacturing jeans. It is about finding new pathways in circular economy, aesthetics and production processes, and it explores this by focusing on the case of denim. Denim was originally a durable fabric but through the time it has lost its integrity due to the rise of globalisation and fast consumption. We are left with vast streams of waste and no infrastructure to absorb them, even when they consist of a supposedly “natural” material such as cotton. The aim of this project is to demonstrate that worn out jeans are not only waste, but can become part of new and continuous material flows, eventually re-transforming into jeans again (or other textile products). Through diverse procedures positioned between crafts approaches and industrial logic, the fabrics are not only recycled, but they visibly change from a one-dimensional mass product to a fluent matter embedded into constant flow of transformation.
To start the whole process, jeans - serving as a raw material - are cut into small fibres and then bonded to form a fleece. Here, two distinct qualities have been developed through out the project: an industrially produced recycled jeans fibre non-woven, and a self-produced, “crafted” non-woven, made of no longer usable jeans, provided by a local non-profit clothing donation distributor. Both types of fleece are processed with the same embroidery technique, yet resulting in two clearly different qualities and aesthetics. The industrially produced non-woven shows a homogenous regular “industrial” surface, whereas the crafted fleece appears irregular, rough, textured, also giving more room for individual expression.
The technology of digitally aided industrial embroidery is not only used to create a stable fabric but also to generate the cut-patterns needed for the final piece of clothing thus rationalising the entire production process from fibres to garment. In the normal production chain patterns are cut out of a fabric, leaving a substantial amount of textile waste. The New Blue concept suggests a novel way to form defined areas on a fabric roll by means of embroidery, which remain in tact when the non-woven cloth is being washed, whereas the non-embroidered parts of the fleece disintegrate when exposed to water. These loose denim fibres can be reused as raw material again, but the embroidered parts remain stable and can be sewn together without further cutting, establishing a circular and zero waste production method.
Not only the appearance of the re-transformed fabrics/garments forms a strong contrast to our common idea of jeans, but also the entire production process and the resulting material characteristics are entirely turned around. The stability of this relatively thick textile is not provided through its basic construction, instead it has a soft, inside only held together through the additional grid-structured embroidery that encases the fleece.
The concept of this project is in contrary to the mainstream fashion business logic of garment production, usually resulting in short-lived consumer items, which by definition are “end products” and later transform into waste. New Blue builds upon a different material’s cycle, which manifests itself in the novel production sequences as well as in its current “final” outcome, only representing a stage of a product, within a continuous, circular succession of decomposing and recomposing.