Laccases use dioxygen from the air to fade denim. They're gentler on the environment and fabric than hypochlorite bleaches and enable unique, innovative looks.
The denim industry is highly trend-driven. Designers need to be able to create a wide range of shades and finishes. One tool at their disposal is bleaching to fade the blue indigo color. Conventional hypochlorite bleaching of denim is cheap, fast and efficient. The downside is that it's harsh on both fabrics and the environment and exposes workers to health risks.
Laccases combined with mediator compounds achieve the same effect as hypochlorite bleaches. Laccases are oxidoreductase enzymes. These enzymes catalyze redox reactions. Redox reactions involve the transfer of electrons from one molecule to another.
In chlorine-free denim bleaching, the mediator enables electron transfer from indigo to dioxygen from the air. The result is oxidized indigo with a faded look.
Chlorine-free denim bleaching is a far more sustainable process than conventional hypochlorite bleaching. It's also better for fabrics, as it doesn't damage cotton fibers.
Laccases improve the appearance of bleached denim as they don't affect sulfur-black dye or make fill yarns whiter. Their bleaching effect is also distinctly different from that of traditionally bleached denim. That allows designers to create innovative fashions and looks.