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The “Downlow” on DL1961: A Lesson in Sustainable Denim

posted by Kaylee Naedler

Zahra AhmedRecently, Zahra Ahmed, the CEO of sustainable denim label DL1961, spoke about the company’s values and sustainable processes in the West Wing of Maxwell Hall on LIM College's campus. She aimed to raise awareness of her company and the ways it's trying to change the fashion industry and make manufacturing better for the environment.

I learned many things about the industry and its global impacts, as well as about the brand, DL1961. Ahmed began with a statistic that stood out to me a lot: It takes about 1500 gallons of water to produce one normal pair of jeans, but DL1961 is able to use under 10 gallons to manufacture theirs. This is insane that the company can reduce their water usage by this much considering the amount of dying and distressing that goes into the production of jeans.

I later found out that DL1961 is extremely careful with their dying processes and only dip the fabric in once, to save water. Also, they recycle the water through water filtration systems at the actual factories, a great strategy to save all of that water to be reused. Ahmed mentioned that the manufacturers use a special process called ozone washing to wash their denim in which oxygen is used to oxidize the indigo to make it the desired color. This process allows for a natural solution to washing denim that creates no byproducts or air pollution.

Something interesting that Ahmed spoke about was the future of the company and new initiatives that DL1961 would be implementing. She gave a few, including a new sustainable kitchen in their new office where every appliance and element of the kitchen is crafted with recycled metal, plastics, etc. In terms of production, DL1961 is getting rid of brand tags because they are a single-use item and are going to screen print details on the garments instead. Biodegradable packaging will be used to enclose the denim which will challenge the regulations of big department stores.

It is important to consider DL1961 when thinking about sustainable companies in the future because they are breaking norms and are extremely dedicated to making change, which more companies need to follow. Using biodegradable packaging and less wasteful and harmful manufacturing processes is innovative and better for the environment. It should be shared with more companies in the industry, which could further lead to the lessening of the carbon footprint of the fashion industry.

Topics: student life, Corporate Social Responsibilty, Sustainable, Sustainable Fashion