THINK DENIM AND THE FIRST FEW WORDS THAT COME TO ONE’S MIND ARE INDIGO, CASUAL, RUGGED, YOUTH. THERE IS AN IMMEDIATE ASSOCIATION OF DENIM TO COMFORT CLOTHING, BE IT JEANS, JACKETS, OVERALLS, SKIRTS OR SHIRTS. RESTRICTED ALL THESE YEARS ONLY TO THE CLOSET, SLOWLY AND STEADILY THE TWILL WEAVE FABRIC IS MAKING ITS WAY INTO THE INTERIOR SPACES.
The latest interior trends and the forecast suggest denim as an upcoming fabric for home textiles. Denim could be a good choice since it is durable as well as cost effective. Moreover, it is adaptable to a wide array of interior spaces, depending on the colour of the denim. Darker tones lend a more formal look in comparison to faded blues that are apt for a country-styled ambience. The versatile denim can be coordinated with different kinds of fabrics – floral prints, solids and even checks and stripes – to complete the look. It also easily blends with almost any colour that can serve as an accent. Denim fabric available in different weights is apt for different applications. Lightweight denims find use as bed sheets and curtains, medium weights for cushion covers and placemats, and heavier weights for upholstery. Business manager of Nalli Silk International, Nupur Gupta describes denim as a hardwearing and textured material, which is feasible to fit in various price brackets and adds value to the product, thereby fetching a better price.
Since denim is a plain textile, it can also be perked up with trims like braids, laces, fringes and fancy buttons. Value addition on denim can provide a variety of looks as well. Different methods of surface ornamentation done on denim include embroidery, appliqué, resist dyeing, printing and creating textures through techniques like pleating, shirring, smocking, fraying, riveting, quilting and cording. Denim washes like stone wash, acid wash, caustic wash, pigment wash, silicon wash, sand blasting, bleaching and enzyme wash add to the overall aesthetics of the fabric. Application of such washes on embellished fabric takes the colour off denim as per the surface texture and imparts a very used, lived-in and soft look and feel.
A number of domestic as well as international home textile brands are using the evergreen denim for different sections of the home, namely bedroom, living room, dining room, children’s room, kitchen as well as the garden. Sur La Table, an American retail brand, sells washed denim oven mitts, pot-holders and kitchen aprons. B&Q, a British multinational DIY and England-based home improvement company, retails denim curtains and blinds in different styles like eyelet curtains, pencil pleat curtains and patterned denim roller blinds. Some other international brands that retail denim-based home products include Castorama, a French retailer; ILVA, a Danish retailer of furniture and home decoration products; Pottery Barn, an American-based home store; Globus, Swiss department store; and John Lewis, a chain of upscale department stores running across Great Britain. Most of these stores are sourcing denim made-ups from Indian exporters.
Delhi-based design studio, Urban Monsoon Textiles India, has designed denim cushions and table accessories like coasters for some of their international buyers. Ekta Mulchandani, design manager of Urban Monsoon states: “The demand for denim as a material has increased over the past one year, with many buyers keen on small denim home collection for nearly every season.” Bengaluru-based company Loom Home Textiles uses denim as a material to produce a wide range of home products like curtains, chair cushions, tablecloths, placemats, napkins, oven gloves, wine bottle jackets, egg warmers and yoga mats. Henna Kalro, brand manager for Loom feels that denim as a fabric for soft furnishings is slowly catching up as a trend in the Indian market. Due to its casual feel, denim draperies are preferred by the Indian market especially for doing rooms for the pre-teen and teenager group. Being a natural fabric with easy wash care properties, denim is well suited for curtains, offering variety through surface techniques like embroidery and appliqué. “Denim products like wine bottle jackets are ideal as gift items while table linen and yoga mats are popular with the expats and foreigners,” adds Kalro.
THE DEMAND FOR DENIM AS A MATERIAL HAS INCREASED OVER THE PAST ONE YEAR, WITH MANY BUYERS KEEN ON SMALL DENIM HOME COLLECTION FOR NEARLY EVERY SEASON
Denim as an upholstery material is also gaining popularity. Since the fabric combines well with varied colours and textures, it is well suited to different furniture materials like wood, cane, bamboo and wrought iron. Just like a pair of jeans, denim upholstered chairs, benches, couches, futons, floor cushions, as well as children’s rocker are preferred, as the fabric enhances the comfort feel for the user. Even denim slip-covers can be a good choice for dressing up upholstered furniture, as it is low on maintenance and a sturdy fabric.
The universal denim fabric has also been used for automotive upholstery. In 2010, Diesel, the Italian fashion and denim brand, designed sporty denim upholstery topstitched with yellow thread for the Fiat car 500 launched for the European and Japanese markets.
Another major trend visible in the market is recycling denim jeans and jackets into interesting home products like patched floor rugs, bean bags, poufs, etc. Some techniques used to develop interior products include patchwork and interlacing with strips of denim to create a larger fabric. Of late, high-end home store Bed Headers started LegendBlues, a line of custom- made upholstered furniture, pillows and accessories, based on an entirely sustainable model. In 2009, the company’s designer, Liz Richardson conceptualised the re-use of old pairs of jeans that were transformed into chic upholstered furniture. The styling of the upholstery is done in such a way that the jean pockets are utilised for keeping mobile phones, remotes or other necessities by the user. Another brand, Anthropologie, a multi-channel lifestyle chain, displayed its denim rugs collection made from scraps of denim. A predominant technique used by the brand is the use of twisted strips of jeans fabric anchored by sturdy strips of woven jute to develop a stable framework revealing tints and shades of blues. The concept of recycle and repurpose denimwear has been experimented by designers and brands to create other articles like cushions, quilts, placemats, table runners as well as textile wall arts.
In order to make the denim fabric more suitable for home furnishings, finishes like mercerisation, emerising and PU coating are applied. Florence- based company Dimitris Zoz Home has developed a collection of home furnishings using Tuscan Italian denim fabric that is pre-treated with Teflon finish to impart waterproofing and stain-resistant properties.
Denim washes are also critical as they assist in softening the fabric, impart different effects as well as enhance the visual appearance and add a vintage feel to the product. Atul Singh, Director – Technology & Business Development, Ashima Group
stresses on the importance of pre- enzyme wash of denim made-ups prior to use in order to improve the dry and wet rub colour fastness properties as well as enhance the puckering effect at the seams to impart the washed denim casual appeal. However, post enzyme wash, fabric shrinkage needs to be taken into account. Singh is of the view that application of washes on stitched denim home products on a large scale is still a challenge for the industry.
“A lot of R&D is being done on denim finishes to make it suitable for home textiles, one of which is washed denim fabric, just like ‘ready to use’ fabric,” says Mayank Jain, VP – Marketing, Malwa Group.
Surely, denim has the potential to be used as an interior fabric. Design consultant to Noorjehan Exports, Astha Mendiratta foresees denim to be a popular fabric choice for soft furnishings. Denim lends itself to a lot of washes and textures, and also serves as a good base material for printing. Long lasting and affordable, denim is user friendly and can be used not only for top of the bed (special) home textiles but also for bedding and table linen.
From a workwear fabric to a fashion fabric and now entering the home textile industry, the classic denim has come a very long way. Reputed international labels like Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Diesel have incorporated denim in their home collections. In today’s world where consumers strive for relaxed and comfortable living, denim-styled home collections would be sought after in the near future. Technical advancements in terms of denim washing on made- ups and appropriate finishing can further give a boost to denim in the world of interiors.