HK Startup Denim Unspun Named To Time Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions List

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Hong Kong-headquartered startup denim unspun has been named on Time magazine’s prestigious list of 100 Best Inventions of 2019. Using 3D scanning and robotics technology, the brand creates personalised jeans that not only guarantees a perfect fit for any size, but makes sure off-cut textile waste is a thing of the past. While it seems futuristic, denim unspun’s technology is deeply on trend–ticking the boxes for current consumers who are now demanding both inclusivity and sustainability from fashion labels. 

Hong Kong and San Francisco-based startup denim unspun, which recently joined Hong Kong’s The Mills Fabrica incubator in February last year, has been listed on one of Time magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2019. As a zero-inventory and size-less brand, denim unspun uses their 3D weaving machine technology to create custom-fit jeans that fits perfectly for each individual, and creates no waste in the process. The startup achieves this by using a 3D body scanner to generate virtual customer avatars using 100,000 data points. Then, customers can select their desired fabric, all of which on offer are made from organic and recycled cotton and recycled plastics, their thread colour and the style they want, before denim unspun uses their weaving technology to build a pair of personalised jeans. 

With their coded software weaving technology, denim unspun’s jeans will slash off-cut waste, a common consequence in traditional apparel making techniques. This is especially important for denim, one of the most resource-intensive materials in textiles that uses up vast water, dyes and abrasives to manufacture. Plus, with the global denim market set to grow to US$87.6 billion by 2023, up from US$66 billion in 2018, it’s clear that our demand for denim in fashion products will continue to leave behind a detrimental impact on our planet. 

While the company has yet to be able to completely eliminate waste from cutting and sewing, the remainder of the 15% of clippings they create is used to create a dust bag to deliver each pair of jeans. They also receive donations of excess fabrics from other brands, which denim unspun also uses to create these dust bags.

Not only has the denim unspun’s technology been recognised by the prestigious Time magazine, it’s mission to reduce carbon emissions through intentional, automated and localised manufacturing of jeans has been backed by a number of big names, including the H&M Foundation, the National Science Foundation and Princeton-based global venture capital firm SOSV

Looking ahead to the future, denim unspun will be partnering up with Resortecs, a sustainable textiles technology startup, to create their custom-jeans with dissolvable thread. This will help close the gap in terms of the circular fashion economy, as dissolvable thread will make the process of separating garments for recycling and upcycling much more efficient. 

The concept of building individually personalised, custom made-to-order jeans for any size is very on-trend and plays well with the growing demographic of shoppers who are asking for inclusivity from brands. Commenting on the size-less aspect of denim unspun, co-founder Beth Epsonnette said that it appeals to customers “because they don’t have to think about their measurements…it’s just about you.”

Plus, denim unspun’s zero-waste production technology offers up a commitment to a sustainable supply chain that is bound to tick the boxes of shoppers who are also demanding greener, more eco-friendly offerings from fashion labels.

Lead image courtesy of denim unspun.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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