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Sugar Cane Denim

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@SuperJackle

Its a good question since the last commercial harvest of sugarcane in HI was the 2016 crop. I think it was on Maui.

My “guess” is the current Hawaii denim could still have its origin in the Land of Aloha...but that is pure speculation. Hopefully someone well informed will respond.

I love the bagasse/cotton fabric of my Okinawa. They stiffen up every time they get wet in the rain and they don’t carry a body odor from extended wear between washings.

 

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Posted (edited)

Toyo's statements in the past were that Okinawa and Hawaii models and their respective denims are made from sugar cane fibers and indigo from these regions.
(I've seen retailers and online sources claim that the cotton was also from said regions, but I couldn't verify that claim to originate from a Toyo source.)

what happened in 2016 was that the last of the Big 5 ceased commercial sugar cane planting & harvesting - if and how much of that production ended up (as a by-product) at Toyo's we don't know...

Toyo's AW2018 catalogues still claim that their Hawaii model denim uses bagasse originating from Hawaii.

given traditional apparel supply chain planning timelines and typical raw material buying behavior I would think that a 2016 Hawaiian sugar cane harvest stock could have been use up within 2 seasons - max. 3. Toyo probably only runs 1 production lot of jeans & jackets per year.
AW2018 garment retail lots were probably planned and scheduled for in 2017 already.

it's also possible that Toyo's Hawaiian bagasse never came from big commercial plantations (i.e. Hawaiian Corporate and Sugar Company - HC&S owned by Alexander & Baldwin) in the fist place, but from smaller, alternative and still existing growers...

Edited by Foxy2

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Posted (edited)

There's no sugar cane in the yarn according to Mr Kawai at Nihon Menpu, who makes the fabric, there are apparently small sugar granules. This Q&A was translated by NM's export director.

PT: Tell me about the Sugar Cane yarn. Whose ideas was it?
SK: "it's just starting in Sugar Cane .. the making small... in the fabric and inside is sugar broken into sugar power, on the inside, so inside of the yarn .. so a more soft yarn."

Whose idea was that?
SK: "Maybe it was from the Sugar Cane people."

For the key fabrics with that lovely streaky combined natural/synthetic indigo, the synthetic is unspec'd, natural is usually a mix, 80% Indian, 20% Japanese.

Edited by Paul T

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Thanks Paul. So are you saying that the description of certain SC jeans (e.g Hawaii/Okinawa) as being made from denim comprising of 50% cotton/50% sugar cane fibres is a complete myth/con? Obviously, this is from the information given to you, which suggests the denim is 100% cotton with some sugar added to it?

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Yikes, that sounds a bit hardcore but I guess the man who makes the denim would know? There could well be errors in translation, he might have said powder when he really means strands, of course. Also he's only weaving the yarn, not making it.

But marketing speak is marketing speak.

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Haha :D I know what you mean and I’m not shooting the messenger here, hopefully someone like Kiya can chime in with his knowledge.

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Posted (edited)

I think it is a translation error. Using bagasse fibers in fabric is nothing new. There would be zero benefit to spraying a sugar starch onto cotton denim. Also, the 50/50 denim does not shrink as much as 100% cotton denim.

The bagasse would not be purchased raw as harvested cane. That raw cane would first be processed to extract the sugar. The remaining “pulp” would then be further processed to isolate the cellulose absent any impurities (lignin removal and bleaching). Cane cellulose (agro-industrial waste) has multiple uses. At this stage, the fibers would be ready for manufacturing into fabric. I am just hazarding a guess but it was likely at this stage that SC would purchase it. 

This procsss would only be cost-effective on a large scale and not likely continued at a small-scale as HI would have remaining.

Additional insight appreciated. Great original question!

Edited by Pedro

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Good point Pedro, perhaps he said that there’s no actual sugar in the fabric, just the fibres (sans sugar), which is the opposite of what may have been translated, ie sugar without the fibres!

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^ Yeah, I'd also find it hard to believe that the 50/50 makeup mentioned in their catalogues and on their labels was blatantly false. Maybe he was referring to bagasse coming not from the Sugar Cane plants for which the brand is named, but from the less-recognizable sugar millet that grows rampant? Translations are tough.

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@julian-wolf

Amen.

Translations are tough, just read the crazy descriptions of JP denim...its so bad its comical.

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The AW18 catalogue shows a picture of the bagasse fiber mix and the text suggests that it is used to spin the yarns.

my sugar cane denim used to be quite scratchy/itchy in the beginning due to specific staple fibers in the yarns that were harder than your average cotton staple fibers. You could actually look for those and pull them out with pliers.

as @Pedro said - using bagasse is a standard process and achieving a 50/50 mix using only sugar molecules seems highly unlikely...

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Posted (edited)

Besides, wasn’t it Japan’s cyber security minister that admitted to never having used a computer in his life...

Edited by Foxy2

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Since Style Eyes is under the Toyo brand, does anyone here actually like the Strat CatsxStyle Eyes collaboration that just came out?

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I think it was a mistranslation and they are 50:50 cotton/sugar cane fibre.

Coincidentally, Left Field have just released their cotton/banana fibre mix jeans!

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@Maynard Friedman

Cery Cool.

I love the experimenting with all these other natural fibers!

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1 hour ago, Maynard Friedman said:

I think it was a mistranslation and they are 50:50 cotton/sugar cane.

If they were sprayed or saturated in sugar crystal then I think my dogs or children would have chewed my Okinawas up by now.

;-)

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SK was gesticulating as he showed how the yarn was made, I did get the sense that the sugar content - which I agree is likely fibre strands or chunks - was on the inside, and cotton on the outside of the yarns (nothing to do with a spray). The translation, by Teiji Kakutani, was live, so more room for error. I don't think I used it in any articles, as I sent tricky quotes back for verification and didn't do so with this.

http://loomstate.blogspot.com/search/label/Nihon Menpu

 

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Posted (edited)

Okay all, so the reason I brought this up- I was just in Maui and saw the depleted sugar cane plantations and read about the last production in 2016.  It got me thinking about the Hawaii model in particular. So nothing definitive on whether current models actually contain bagasse from Hawaii - or perhaps it may come from a smaller operation than the commercial outfits? 

As a side note - I wore no denim the entire time because it was so very hot and humid haha. 

Edited by SuperJackle

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As far as I'm aware (someone please correct me if this isn't the case / is no longer the case) the sugar millet plants that are used for fibre are unrelated, besides in scent and country of origin, to the sugar cane plants that are used for sweetener and fuel. I guess I just wouldn't expect sugar cane production to be closely correlated with sugar millet production, unless something more general was going on with labor / trade / whatever else.

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Posted (edited)

@julian-wolf

Sugar millet is part of the grass family; however, it is very different from SugarCane (as you stated).

I am not aware that it has been grown commercially on the Hawaiian Islands until recently for BioFuel.

Whats the connection between SC and millet?

 

Edited by Pedro

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Posted (edited)

^ As far as I know, the only connection is that they smell similar and grow well in similar climates. Millet is used directly for fibre; whereas, fibre derived from sugar cane is a byproduct of sugar production (Sugar Cane also seems to have used this for their clothes, occasionally—I remember there being a pair of cane / poly blended shorts a few seasons ago that advertised this explicitly…but that also could've been a misunderstanding of a poor translation).

Edited by julian-wolf

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@julian-wolf

It was my understanding from google searches that SC denim blends have all been from actual Sugar Cane and not millet.

One example was Heddel’s:

https://www.heddels.com/2013/10/sugar-cane-co-jeans-short-sweet/

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Posted (edited)

https://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/7048/sugarcane-fibres

"In the apparel industry, bagasse is utilised for production of textile rayon fibers such as viscose, modal and lyocell. The bagasse is shredded, broken down with eco-friendly chemicals or other chemicals, and then when it is still in a liquid form, it is shot at very high pressure through tiny holes. This long strand of fibre is then solidified and spun into yarn. Rayon fibres are thus produced. Since rayon is manufactured from organically occurring polymers, it is considered as a semi-synthetic fibre. Sugarcane rayon is glossier and more silk-like than wood pulp rayon. Sugarcane rayon, in particular, has a delightful lustre, however, this could also merely be a manufacturing difference, and not a material difference."

"Earlier, the Japanese dominated or rather had a sole authority over producing sugarcane fibre for apparel purpose. In Japan, several companies used blend of sugarcane and selvage denim to reproduce some of the finest quality jeans. The cane used in the process is sweet sorghum, commonly known as sweet millet. It's a very common grass, which is produced all over the world. It is mainly used for making a molasses-like syrup and animal feed. The Japanese companies mixed sugarcane fibre with sweet sorghum, which in turn gave the fabric a sweet smell. Since then, sugarcane fabric has been successful in inviting world-wide attention. "

Edited by Foxy2

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Got the canes today. Aaaaand they fit!

Great jeans, super soft denim and great condition.

IMG_20190627_185615.jpg

IMG_20190627_185742.jpg

IMG_20190627_185815.jpg

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Posted (edited)

@Thanks_M8

Where did you find those?

What size?

Cinch back Score!

Edited by Pedro

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Posted (edited)

@Foxy2

I saw that article awhile ago when we discussed this topic on this forum earlier but its confusing. It does appear to reference (but not name) Toyo Brand SC but Sweet Sorghum is a relatively new crop for HI and I think primarily motivated for BioFuel stock (although it has been an agricultural feedstock in the Midwest for a long time).

I just don’t know since it could be a translation issue, a marketing thing (after all, who wants to buy Sweet Sorghum Denim) etc?

I picked up an electron microscope at a garage sale last Fall. I suppose I could put my Okinawas under it and see which fiber it is.   ;-)

Edited by Pedro

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Yeah, it’s confusing in regards to the use and purpose of sweet millet.

I’m reading a few research papers and it seems like that other than sugarcane rayon fibers the use of sugarcane in textile applications is limited so far.

Sugarcane producing regions are interested in finding out what else they are supposed to do with the bagasse (the remaining 30% after pressing).

There are problems in isolating and extracting sugarcane fibers from the bagasse and the observed parameters (tensile and tenacity properties) of those fibers are not ideal.

My guess is that Sugarcane’s application of sugarcane fibers with sweet millet is isolated and makes only little sense commercially.

Mr. Kawai’s comment as to who came up with it was probably a bit cynic in nature in regards to the limitation of its actual usage...

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Posted (edited)

@kiya Any light you could shed on the Hawaii model containing sugar cane fibers actually from Hawaii?

Edited by SuperJackle

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Pedro said:

@Thanks_M8

Where did you find those?

What size?

Cinch back Score!

Yes, i'm super stoked! Got them on ebay from a japanese guy, he still has a pair of almost ds 47s with arcs and tab for sale, but they're hemmed to a 70cm inseam with a lockstitch which would be way short for me.

https://www.ebay.de/itm/RARE-BROKEN-ARCUETTE-SUGAR-CANE-1947-DENIM-JEANS-/133091659251

Edited by Thanks_M8
Added the link

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Posted (edited)

@Thanks_M8

Thanks for the details. Those britches were not advertised on the USA Ebay.

Seeing the word “Zuckerrohr” in the title brings back memories of a German film from the ‘80s called “ZuckerBaby”. My girlfriend at the time used to hate it when I started calling her that...Lol

 

Edited by Pedro

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