Innovation That Matters

'Wooden' denim uses less resources by replacing cotton with tree pulp

Fashion & Beauty

Dawn Ellams, a PhD researcher from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, has developed Tencel – a denim made from the pulp of eucalyptus trees.

The textiles industry is one with a sizeable carbon footprint, especially considering the always-changing nature of fashion quickly renders products out of date. We’ve already seen Vapor Apparel recycle landfill plastic into its ECO Spin fabric, and now a PhD researcher from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland has developed environmentally-friendly ‘wooden’ jeans – a denim made from the pulp of eucalyptus trees. According to Dawn Ellams, who is studying at the university’s School of Textiles and Design, the traditional method for making one pair of jeans out of cotton requires around 42 liters of water and uses a number of harmful dying chemicals. Her research has produced a technique for turning Tencel – a material created from treated woodchip that has been around for 30 years, but that is typically energy intensive – into jeans that use one-fifth of the resources of cotton alternatives. Once the items have been created, digital printing can color or even recreate stonewashed effects on the jeans. Currently fabrics made from wood are expensive to produce and Ellams hopes to hone her technique to make it a more viable option for manufacturers. In the mean time, are there other options that could help the fashion industry improve its environmental record? Spotted by: Tracy Chong



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