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Denim Documentary Reveals The Denim Industry’s Dark Side


RiverBlue, an upcoming denim documentary featuring Canadian river conservationist Mark Angelo, aims to reveal the denim manufacturing industry’s negative impact on the environment in places like India’s Yumana River and the Citarum River in Indonesia. ”The rivers are like the capillaries of our planet and we can’t live without them,” director David McIlvride told Ecouterre in a recent interview. “The planet would die if we lose rivers to pollution.”

Read an excerpt from the interview below…

riverblue-documentary

EC: What is the fashion industry—and we humans, by extension—doing to the planet?

DM: There’s been a lot of talk about “fast fashion” in blogs and in the popular press and its impact on the environment. With a glut of fashion hitting consumers and low and competitive pricing, it’s not the consumer who is paying for an ever-increasing volume of clothing, but rather the environment.

In the film, Orsola de Castro, an eco-fashion designer from London, England tells us that the fashion industry has to have “transparency, no toxicity, traceability” and that “consumers will demand to know who, where and how our clothes are being made and if the manufacturing of our fashion is having a negative effect on the environment.”

I don’t think we have much of a choice. It’s often mentioned that the next war will not be fought over oil, but rather water. I think that’s a strong possibility as we keep growing in population, while at the same time, losing our integral water resources. The rivers are like the capillaries of our planet and we can’t live without them. The planet would die if we lose rivers to pollution.

I think the consumer does have a say in the health of the rivers of our world, if they knew the story about how fashion has negatively impacted the environment for decades now. Through social media, pressure put on fashion brands to clean up their act and detox, I’m sure we could have a positive effect on the health of the rivers in many places around the world. No one, in my belief, wants to buy from brands that pollute.

EC: What kinds of toxins are we talking about?

DM: Blue jeans are much dirtier than you might ever guess. That ubiquitous distressed denim wash is the result of a several chemical-intensive washes. We spoke on camera with campaigners from Greenpeace who when testing the outflows near the denim towns found five heavy metals (cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead, and copper) in 17 out of 21 water and sediment samples taken from throughout Xintang, a city we filmed in.

Toxic campaigners in China have discovered heavy metals like manganese, which can be associated with brain damage in the rivers. They’ve also found a lot of heavy metals that are neurotoxic, carcinogenic, which disrupt the endocrine system causing cancer of different organs.

Mark, our world paddler, talks about how he feels that clean water is not only a basic human right; it is the world’s most threatened essential resource. Aside from being critical habitats for wildlife, waterways such as rivers and lakes provide vital resources. Many people rely on this water for drinking, for farming, and for food. Yet we saw, during our filming, over and over again that these vital water sources are often abused by industry and treated as if they are private sewers.

The textile industry is chemically intensive. We witnessed a lot of chemicals running through factory floors, eventually ending up in the river. We also documented the spraying of potassium permanganate—without any masks—used to distress jeans, while filming in blue-jean factories.

>> Continue reading this interview at Ecouterre.

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Posted Aug 06 2014 in Denim News

Blue Jeans: The Fabric of Freedom


“A CBS production with requisite weird voiceover, this is actually a rather informative documentary for those unfamiliar with denim’s roots or just the ultimate denim porn for those in the know. A short history of the world’s most popular fabric, we’re treated to Michael Allen Harris’ Blue Gold mine finds, Lynn ‘Levi’s’ Downey’s white glove gems and visit modern makers Roy Slaper (again) and Imogene + Willie. If the sight of a dusty, rusted buttoned, pleated denim jacket sends your pulse racing or if you’re just looking to learn a little something, press play.”

blue-jeans-fabric-of-freedom

Image: Michael Harris

Click the image below to watch the video.

Source: Selectism.

—DT Staff

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Posted May 15 2012 in Denim Therapy

Denim History Re-Visited: Levi Strauss


This aint’ exactly news, but we’ve been reading this and spreading the link amongst friends over the weekend and thought it was worth a re-post. If you need to brush up on the history of denim, check out this documentary posted at Rawr Denim, Levi’s As America: A Riveting Icon Part 1. You’ll also find links to other watch-ables throughout the post. Here’s to getting to know your jeans!

levi-strauss-history-of-denim

Image via Rawr Denim.

—DT Staff

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Posted Mar 12 2012 in Denim Therapy
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