In 2005, we bought the cutting factory – Danva – in Lithuania. Much like owning our own dyehouse, the acquisition of our own cutting facility allows us to control and influence a key part of our supply chain. This makes it possible for us to ensure a consistent and very high quality in what we do.
We have a very close co-operation with our Lithuanian colleagues and are in daily contact with them. We have 10 colleagues working at the facility - predominantly women – but also a few, young men to do some of the physically heavy lifting. The men and women at the facility work 5 days a week – from 7 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.
Over the years, the facility has gradually been upgraded. A ventilation system has been installed to significantly improve the indoor climate and over the span of the past 3 years, we have upgraded to state-of-the-art machinery. The new automated cutters have also helped improve the indoor climate – as opposed to manually cutting the fabric, the automated machines limit the specs of dust floating around the facility significantly, thus improving the quality of the air and eliminating masks that are typical in this type of production.
At Danva, all our cotton and merino wool fabric is cut. The fabric arrives at the facility from our dyehouse in Denmark in huge fabric rolls. The rolls are then carefully loaded onto large cutting tables. The fabric is layered – between 25 and 50 layers at a time. An air vacuum is created to grip the fabric and hold it in its place. The vacuum makes it easier for the cutter to cut its way through the layers. The patterns are programmed into the cutter, so it knows exactly how and where to make the cuts. These patterns are meticulously planned out to make sure we make the absolute most of each piece of fabric.
The ten people working at the facility can cut an impressive amount of clothing in just 5 days – in fact, when circumstances are just right, they cut around 50.000 pieces of clothing a week. That amounts to a whopping 1.35 million pieces of clothing a year.
5 days a week
50.000 pieces in one week
1.35 milion pieces in a year
A key focus at the facility is minimising waste and making the most of each roll of fabric. As a rule of thumb, at least 80% of the fabric must be utilised – but more often than not, we exceed by upwards of 90% utilised. As you can imagine, that means methodically planning each pattern to make them as precise and optimised as possible. Our pattern planner, Stefan, jokingly compares this part of the process to a large-scale game of Tetris. Each cut is important and must fit together to minimise fabric waste.
The small cuts of fabric that are left over after cutting is done, are sold to partners in the UK that recycle the scraps. The UK-based company imports and exports fabric scraps and leftover clothing. They operate in Africa, Latvia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Poland, and Canada. Every 4 to 5 weeks, the scraps are collected from our facility in Lithuania and brought to the UK where they are sorted and undergo a purification process. Our fabric scraps are then blended with nylon or acrylics to add strength. You see, after the scraps are processed, the wool fibres are far too short for recycling purposes and need a bond to be recycled and brought back to life. After blending is done, they are sold to mills that spin and weave the fibres into fabric. The recycled fabric can then be sold and used to make new apparel. This way, the scraps do not go to waste, but are kept in circulation.
Read more about our approach to circular production and unsold textiles here.
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