What? Wattwash!

The brand has always been rebellious and followed its own path. As the pioneer in laser treatment applied to jeans since 2003, it continues to make news militating for the process. The WattWashTM technique has replaced the use of water and chemicals for producing washed out jeans, a process that was itself industrialised by Marithé and François Girbaud in the 70s (the now famous stonewashing technique).
Return on the past
As early as 1968, the first empirical tests carried out artisan-style in laundrettes, then the industrials tests at the Saint-Germain-des-Prés laundry to artificially wear and age the jeans got them noticed. Raw Wrangler jeans were bought and washed to rid them of the finishing products that stiffened them. And so “pre-worn” jeans became available to all – “ready to wear” literally. The washing constituted the added value which gave the jeans their “lived in” look and marked the starting point for a whole new fashion.
In the second half of the 1970s, they could only find an Italian manufacturer capable of producing for the worldwide market. The major innovation in mechanical washing with pumice stones from Lipari Island became famous under the name Stonewashed. June 29th, 1972, La Dépêche du Midi publishes their facetious “Instructions for fading jeans” titled the ‘past’ is the future.
Widely copied all over the world, considered as the “Kings of denim” for having transformed the cut of the famous 5-pocket jeans, Marithé+François Girbaud have consistently challenged the American models of jeans, to invent a new form of jeans. In other words, washing the ideas out of jeans !
Return on the future
“To buy a jeans is a political act” declaim François Girbaud.
Indeed, technology comes today accompanied by an obligatory environmental and ethical conscience, while striving towards optimum efficiency. Saving vital raw materials like water, “new blue gold”, for future generations has become a duty.
The other pair of jeans started out as a pair of jeans that was not American, urban jeans that changed attitudes with X-pockets. The carefree 70s enabled all kinds of experiments with treatments on denim without any concern for the environment. They reached such excesses, like the use of permanganate, that in 1989 Marithé+François Girbaud decided the time had come to do something about it, and they turned away from invasive treatments to devote their attention to shapes and volumes. This metamorphosis was the beginning of engineered jeans.
From the beginning of the 2000s, they dedicated their research to alternative treatments with techniques that bite into the denim using light or ozone. Today, this other pair of jeans is a “clean” pair of jeans, but it still has its vintage look.
As they have always observed the street, as they dreamed of a new factory in the 90s, the industrial tool today enables them to produce a different pair of jeans, so that they can look at the consumer wearing those jeans or the worker making them with empathy.
To save water, it is urgent to change our habits and see classic jeans as evidence of a bygone age. The WattwashTM (laser) technique is a 97.5% water-free process. 5 litres of water are used in this treatment, whereas it takes an average of 120 litres to treat a basic pair of jeans. Controlled burning by laser engraves the surface of the fabric precisely to create a multiplicity of worn effects, patterns or 3D effects.
Ozone is a 70% waterless treatment. This atmospheric treatment uses a mixture of oxygen + ozone for ethical, effective and environmentally-friendly “washing”, softening the garment and giving it a patina without the need for water or chemicals. A healthy revolution to accompany the well-worn effect. The combination of these two techniques means that today denim can be treated without water. From stone to light… the finished product is not only an Evolution, but also it is a Revolution.
During the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne 2013, the visitor could experiment the “own” engraving of its jeans. Through this spectacular experience, it was especially necessary question to make sensitive the consumer on a garment which is so familiar, apparently commonplace but not harmless to him.
www.lautrejean.blogspot.fr
« From stone to light », éditions de La Martinière, 2012