As a leading denim ingredient brand, ISKO™ has been a long-term partner of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, both aligned at the core values in pushing the sustainability agenda. We caught up with Rosey Cortazzi, ISKO™’s Global Marketing Director at our Media Masterclass held earlier in November in Los Angeles to talk about their view on communicating fashion sustainability, their insights into the industry and tips for us as denim consumers.

Being the leading denim ingredient brand, championing sustainability within your business model represents a significant leap influencing the whole industry. What are the challenges that might still prevent many brands from embracing sustainability in their production?

Sustainability needs to permeate a company’s whole approach, its every action. A change of mindset is needed. At ISKO™, responsibility has always been inherent in our DNA. We promote a holistic mindset with a longstanding focus on responsibility, innovation and citizenship. We believe it’s our responsibility as industry leader to set new standards and lead the way towards a better future, being an active example for both our partners and final consumers.

There’s still a lingering stigma around the perception of sustainable clothing. How can sustainability be communicated to make the product attractive to the customer?

We need to pass on the message that responsible clothing doesn’t sacrifice style. It can be fashionable, performance-oriented and cool. Consumers are actually already paying great attention to sustainability. They’re looking for brands and ingredients that can prove their active commitment, while staying stylish. At ISKO™, from traditional denim fabrics to patented technologies, everything is created with the most advanced technology using a responsible approach.

What are some of the things we can do to become more conscious denim consumers?

As denim consumers, we must choose to support brands and players that are committed to changing for the better. Certifications are also a tangible proof of this vision. Nordic Swan and EU Ecolabel symbols, for example, are already very well known by consumers for certain products including cleaning supplies such as detergents, shampoos and cosmetics. All these directly touch human skin and are all must-haves in daily life. Denim is also a must-have daily garment so we believe in giving consumers the opportunity to purchase products with these certifications. ISKO™ Earth Fit™, our lowest-impact denim collection, answers this requirement as it is the only one worldwide to have achieved both the EU Ecolabel and Nordic Swan Ecolabel certifications. This line, which now includes 46 fabrics, uses innovative and responsible fibres such as organic cotton, pre-consumer recycled cotton and post-consumer recycled polyester from PET bottles.

We also need to keep in mind that in the lifecycle of a pair of jeans half of the water usage comes after the purchase. We want to encourage customers to save water and only wash their jeans when it is absolutely necessary. The shape retention properties of ISKO Recall™, a patented innovation by ISKO™, means that jeans don’t get baggy with daily wear and they don’t need to be washed often to come back into perfect shape.

Over the years that you have been at the forefront of responsible denim manufacturing, what have you noticed as being the major propeller of change?

What we’ve noticed is that denim sustainability was often considered only from a water consumption point of view. We’ve always known that we must push the boundaries of responsibility further. Chemicals and dyestuffs are also powerful triggers of water usage, energy and eco-toxicity measures all have knock-on effects on denim fabric production. We have an Environmental Management System in place, certified to an international standard, to ensure we manage the environmental impacts at our production facilities. Under this system we manage energy, water, waste, chemicals and emissions.

In order to fully understand the environmental footprint of our denim fabrics, and where we can make even better choices, we’ve also obtained Life-Cycle Assessments (LCA) for all our 25,000+ denim products. Independently verified Environmental Product Declarations (EPD®) have been produced to ensure the validity and replicability of these LCAs, making ISKO™ the first denim manufacturer globally to obtain pre-certified EPD®s for all our products. The results of these industry first EPD®s have been used to create the independently devised Product Category Rules (PCR) for future denim industry EPD®s. Recently, new PCR related to the assessment of the environmental performance of “woven, knitted and crocheted fabrics of naturals fibres (except silk) for the apparel sector”, and the declaration of this performance by an EPD have been published and are now available for any company to voluntarily develop and publish information on the life cycle environmental impact of their services in a transparent and comparable way.

Moreover, we’re the first and only Turkish manufacturer to have become a signatory member of the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) foundation. This decision highlights ISKO™’s commitment not to use harmful substances as a core part of our holistic Responsible Innovation vision.

What are some of your aspirations for the development of an even more sustainable denim industry in the near future?

Our goal is always the same: to make denim better. We’re always driving Responsible Innovation™ and quality, being one step ahead of the market and anticipating the future needs of people, customers and consumers. This is an ongoing process and the industry should never stand still. For sure, a truly responsible approach needs to consider the big picture and this includes all steps of the production chain. The future will demand more and more concrete facts as an answer to the responsibility challenges we’re facing: those industry players that aim to be protagonists of the future will need to give tangible proof of their commitments and results. With our certificates and proven elements, we as ISKO™ are already actively building up this future.

Read more about ISKO™ at www.isko.com.tr