PANGAIA launched a nettle denim collection in partnership with Candiani Denim and Himalayan Wild Fibers. The three pieces of the first denim collection of the brand debuted on October 19, 2021, and were produced with a first-of-its-kind fabric in which organic cotton from India is blended with Himalayan nettle.
Who are PANGAIA and Himalayan Wild Fibers?
PANGAIA is a materials science and lifestyle brand established in 2018 and based in New York City. Its team of scientists, technologists, and designers aims to create essential products with innovative tech- and bio-materials.
Himalayan Wild Fibers produces and sells textile fibers from plants that grow wild in the Himalayas. Its fair payments represent an off-season source of income for local subsistence farmers.
Nettle denim marks a new chapter in denim’s history
Nettle denim marked a new chapter in denim’s history. Nettle plants grow wild in the mountain forests of the Himalayas and require less water than cotton since they are rain-fed and need no chemicals. They can absorb higher amounts of CO2 and stabilize the landslide-prone areas when managed sustainably. Local subsistence farmers take care of harvesting nettle plants in their off-season to have an additional source of income.
Nettle fibers have unique qualities: they have a hollow core and are extremely strong and durable, yet soft and breathable. The exclusive bio-based fabric used by PANGAIA was created by combining nettle fibers with cotton and organic cotton and woven by Candiani Denim on vintage shuttle looms with a characteristic purple selvedge. It is meant to last for generations but also to be recycled or biodegraded at the end of its life since it is plastic-free and does not contain synthetic blends. The thread is made from 100% lyocell cellulose.
“We started talking about Himalayan nettle years ago, but during the pandemic we started to make a trial with nettle when PANGAIA approached us — it was perfect timing. The fabrics are beautiful. I was shocked when I saw the early trials. Right now, denim is including more and more hemp, even linen is growing, and nettle will most likely be next. The fiber is quite magical and includes outstanding physical performances that other natural fibers don’t have”, Alberto Candiani, president of Candiani Denim, said. He also explained that Himalayan nettle fibers have lengthening properties of 12-14%, while cotton’s equal to 8-9%. Nettle naturally is hence more comfortable than cotton.
Candiani Denim has a production target of 30,000 yards of Himalayan nettle blended fabric, rising to 60,000 by the end of 2022. “Then we want to break 100,000”, Alberto Candiani maintained, underlining that the mill’s fully-scaled production with optimized weaving is “two years away”.
PANGAIA’s nettle denim is a real example of slow fashion
PANGAIA’s nettle denim collection is the brand’s first denim line. It represents a real example of slow fashion not only because its garments are supposed to last long but also because its construction was slower than usual: all the products were woven on shuttle looms that are three times slower than projectile looms.
The collection was designed with Jonathan Cheung, formerly Levi’s designer, and includes a unisex ‘90s-style denim jacket, unisex straight-leg jeans, and women’s high-rise jeans. All were produced at the Candiani Denim’s mill with a water-saving dyeing process.
The collection is available on PANGAIA’s website.