Updated: Nov 11, 2020
The New Denim Project (TNDP) is a Guatemalan-based textile manufacturer and an innovative design lab that produces textiles and yarns made from premium quality, upcycled materials. Their mission to transform the retail industry through a closed-loop system is supported by four main pillars: Vertical Integration, Circular Manufacturing, Chemical-Free and Dye-Free, and Minimal Water and Energy Usage. Their commitment to environmental responsibility while remaining socially-compliant is what truly sets them apart as pioneers of a closed-loop system.
I had the wonderful opportunity to meet sisters Joanna and Arianna Engelberg in 2018 and got to hear from firsthand about their shared passion for a closed-loop production process as a call to eliminate waste in one of the largest polluting industries in the world. Joanna Engelberg, Business Development and Collaborations Director, went into further detail into the rich family history as well as the involvement of the local Guatemalan community to bring their vision to life.
Iris Manufacturing Facility was established over 60 years ago and has been running as a family operation under the leadership of Jaime Engelberg and his daughters. Joanna and Arianne joined their father in efforts to revitalize the family business while adapting and improving current mechanical processes to bring circularity home. In 2013, Arianne Engelberg launched TNDP to bring awareness about textile waste in the retail industry via circular production processes. Their father’s passion and patience for the process have been monumental for the evolution of the company. They are continuing to evolve how they source and dispose raw materials to maintain commitment to quality, remain environmentally responsible, and be competitive in the market.
Step 1: Recover and collect pre-consumer and post-consumer textile waste
Step 2: Separate the fabric material from any “impurities” it might contain such as plastic, cardboard, paper, etc.
Step 3: Grinding these textile scraps to turn them back into fiber through a mechanical process
Step 4: Open end spinning process: spinning these short fibers to create new, sustainable and upcycled open-end cotton yarn
Step 5: Weaving of textiles with our yarns. This includes a wide variety of cotton woven textiles such as canvas, plain weave, twill, taffeta, etc.
Step 6: Cut and sew of products made with our textiles, specializing in home goods and accessories
Step 7: Donate final cotton waste that cannot be spun anymore to farmers and coffee-growers to use as compost waste and serves as an organic fertilizer for their soil
The People Behind the Magic
The New Denim Project is a family business and the heart of the operation is the local community that it works with which is inclusive of weavers, sewers, artisans, engineers and machinists. The business embodies Guatemalan culture while remaining socially compliant.
Soulitude products that will be handed over to you represents their rich family lineage and contains a piece of Guatemalan culture that have become vital to their end process. I fell in love with their story and I hope that you do too! To learn more about The New Denim Project and the magic that occurs behind the scenes, please visit their website here.