HomeNEWSBarkers Group sets its sights on sustainability

Barkers Group sets its sights on sustainability

Denim fabric is well known to be one of the most harmful garments to our environment to make. Yet the water used, and pollution caused by the dyes doesn’t stop manufacture’s from making more. Now, Barkers menswear is releasing what it believes is the cleanest range of denim.

Barkers has partnered with Saitex, a Fairtrade certified world leader in clean denim.

The new initiative will see the chain use 1.5 litres of water per jean pant, compared to the industry standard of 80 L per jean pant. The new sustainable move will also see old water being recycles, rather than discarded into waterways.

The jeans are then 85 percent air dryed instead of being entirely tumble dried, the industry norm, before being finished with a quick spin in a commercial dyer – powered by solar energy. Using renewable energy resources such as solar power has seen the factory’s emissions reduce by 80 percent.

Instead of being dumped, the toxic ‘sludge’ from the denim manufacturing process is then treated and mixed with concrete to create non-leaching bricks to build affordable homes in the local community.

Barkers Group managing director Jamie Whiting believes Barkers is the first major New Zealand retailer to adopt these more responsible production methods.

“For us, working with Saitex is a no brainer. They make great denim, but more importantly we respect their ethos – one that spans their approach to both product and people. Like us, they believe a company can achieve high performance and growth while operating with respect for people and the planet.

“As one of sustainable manufacturing’s greatest champions, Saitex founder Sanjeev Bahl deserves credit for putting a spotlight on poor industry practices and the harm they do to people and our planet, forever changing the way denim should be made.”

The meaning is two-fold says Whiting. “On the one hand, it’s about our commitment to quality, design and timeless style rather than trend-driven fashion. Second and more aspirationally, it’s about making garments that will help sustain the planet rather than be a drain on it.

“The fashion industry has a disappointing environmental record. We have always set higher standards for ourselves, but now we’re pushing on to something bigger and bolder – the challenge of building an entirely sustainable fashion business.

“It’s a journey,” says Whiting. “We’re not saying we’re perfect or that we’ve achieved all our goals already, but every step in the right direction is better than sitting on the side lines doing nothing about the welfare of the planet or the people who make our garments.”

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Courtney Devereux is a Communication Consultant at Clear Hayes and freelance business writer.