UK’s first craft denim wash facility opens in London
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers (BLA) has launched the UK’s first “environmentally innovative” craft denim wash facility at its factory in London’s Walthamstow regeneration area.
Claiming to be the capital’s sole denim clothing manufacturer, the launch of BLA’s Denim Wash Lab and Innovation Hub “will give British brands and designers the opportunity to conduct R&D on-shore in the UK for the first time”, the company said.
Additionally, it opens up the opportunity for the very first time for students to “have access to a world-class facility on their home turf”.
In line with BLA’s core values, the washing and finishing lab will be a space where students, small start-ups and larger heritage brands will be able to research and develop new and more sustainable ways of working with denim washes.
At the centre of the new facility are two state-of-the-art machines - the G1 70 All-in-One washing machine and The Laser — made by Italian denim machinery specialist Tonello. Where standard denim washing uses 70-100 litres per wash, along with tonnes of chemicals and stones, the Tonello system uses oxygen as part of the process and can ‘wash’ 12 pairs of jeans in four litres of water.
Funding for the facility, which will operate commercially and as a learning resource for students, was secured in conjunction with Chelsea College Centre for Circularity (UAL), through a government backed creative and scientific innovation fund that supports sustainable R&D projects.
BLA owner Bilgehan ‘Han’ Ates said its greatest ambition is the potential for UK designers to develop a unique London aesthetic.
With the flexibility of the small minimums the R&D centre will enable, he believes “designers will be able to push the boundaries of creativity where previously high minimums have forced them to play it safe”.
Ates added: “We are very excited to be starting from a blank page - it means we have all that space to play and create, and whatever you play with and create with London knowhow, will inevitably become a London or even UK aesthetic.”
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