Well, I thought this would be a fairly easy question to research, and
as far as information about the use of enzymes for this purpose, it
was. Now, as you likely know already, traditional methods of making
new clothes look old and well-worn involved various combinations of
physical and chemical processes, including sanding with sandpaper,
washing with pieces of pumice stone and using various bleaching agents.
Enzymes are the newest method of aging or ?distressing? new clothes
and have actually become the preferred method for ?stonewashing? denim
in contrast to the traditional method of using actual stones. But in
fact, in some ways using enzymes for this purpose is still in the
experimental stages, with a lot of current testing going on and new
enzymes and procedures being tried with varied results.
The biggest trouble arose, as I?m sure you have discovered, in
locating sources for purchasing the applicable enzymes. Those are
actually plentifully available for the textile manufacturer and the
industry as a whole, but alas! not so for the individual consumer who?
d like to buy a more limited quantity. For the latter, there are just
not yet a whole lot of choices. It seems that, for now at least,
manufacturers are more interested in producing these products, i.e.
distressed fabrics and clothing items, for sale themselves, rather
than giving consumers the means to produce them individually.
Therefore, what I?m going to give you is: 1) first, some sites that
offer general instructions for ?distressing? new clothes in order to
make them look old; and then 2) links to a few sites explaining the
work/research being done on various uses of enzymes within the textile
industry, including fabric finishes of various kinds; and finally 3)
some links to possible sources for purchasing the enzymes most likely
to suit your needs, as well as to some companies selling in larger or
wholesale quantities incase you?d like to pursue that avenue.
VARIOUS METHODS & TECHNIQUES FOR AGING/DISTRESSING FABRIC
Here?s a great discussion from the vantage point of professionals who
work in film and theater on various ways and means of making new
clothes look old:
From ?The Costumer?s Manifesto: Costume Properties Construction
Handbook? by Tara Maginnis, Ph.D. of The University of Alaska
Fairbanks is this project, which gives detailed instructions on ?
Distressing a Standard Man?s Shirt:?
Article from Ohio State University Extension on selecting jeans, with
a lot of good information on this topic. Scroll down to the section
on ?distressing denim? for more details on various processes:
USE OF ENZYMES IN THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY
Here is an excellent Q&A on enzymes published by Genencor, Int?l.,
which is a manufacturer of various enzymes intended for industrial
uses of various kinds. In fact, it claims it is ?the second largest
developer and manufacturer of industrial enzymes in the world.? There?
s a lot of very good general information about enzymes here, as well
as a link at the bottom for a pdf version of the article if you?d like
a print-ready copy:
http://www.genencor.com/wt/gcor/enzyme_qa (If you need to download
Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to read the pdf file, you can get it
) There is also a form submittal page also, if you want to ask
questions about any Genencor products:
In addition, here?s a pdf brochure about denim in particular, and the
various enzymes used to get all those different shades of blue:
However, bear in mind that Genencor is a first-stage manufacturer, and
does not sell directly to the public but only to other manufacturers
making products for the textile industry.
Here?s a very interesting article entitled ? Bio-Polishing: A New Way
of Garment Finishing,?
http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/atid/Timely%20Topics/bio.htm that gives a lot
of details about the process of using enzymes in textile finishing,
though ?polishing? doesn?t produce the worn effect you?re after. That
would be more the result of a similar process known as ?biostoning,?
in which enzymes take the place of the pumice stones previously used
in ?stone-washed? fabrics.
This is a very interesting research report entitled: ?Specific Enzyme
Systems for Various Areas of Textile Processing,? which goes into some
fascinating detail on use of enzymes in the textile industry. In part,
it says, ?Currently, there are two enzyme applications
well-established in the textile industry: in the preparatory finishing
area amylases are common knowledge for desizing processes and in the
finishing area cellulases are used for softening, bio-stoning and
reducing of pilling propensity for cotton goods.? Read more here:
version), or here: http://www.ntcresearch.org/pdf-rpts/AnRp98/c97-a06.
pdf (pdf version).
This is a link to a database about nomenclature of enzymes:
Another report, this one is entitled, ? Symposium on Biotechnology in
the Textile Industry? and includes among other facts, this interesting
bit, which names both the type and one of the specific enzymes used in
research: ?Cellulases have had the most impact on textile processing
in recent years. Current commercial applications include "biostoning",
"biopolishing" and as laundering "brightners" of cotton fabrics.
However, there is a fine balance between producing the desired effect
and causing excessive damage to the fibres leading to an unacceptable
loss in strength. Experimental evidence was presented from several
research groups indicating that the use of mono-component
endoglucanase or endoglucanase-enriched cellulase complexes together
with a high level of mechanical agitation can achieve the desired
performance with only a limited loss of tensile strength. Most of this
work had been done using woven cotton fabrics.? Find more information,
including names of other enzymes, here:
Here?s an interesting article entitled ?Biotechnology in Textile
SOURCES TO PURCHASE ENZYMES FOR USE WITH FABRICS
All right, then, on to sources for purchasing the enzymes specifically
used in ?biostoning? or ?biopolishing,? as described in some of the
reports listed, that is, the process of making new fabrics look used
or old and worn. You?ll note that as of now most of these enzymes
fall within the class known as ?cellulase,? which is a type of ?
biotech? product, usually produced and sold in quantity by chemical
manufacturers to the textile industry. Complicating matters further
is the fact that many of these enzymes are produced by companies in
India or China. For example, ?Rossari Biotech? is a large company in
India specializing in manufacturing chemicals and enzymes for the
textile industry. But a visit to their website ( http://www.rossari.
com ) resulted in a lot of frustration, very little information, and
no reply to email. Another, ?Sunson Industry Group, Inc.? in China
offers a little more information, including some suggested ratios of
enzyme to water and fabric, here: http://sunson.en.alibaba.com/product/
I?ve been able to track down a few of the companies and brand names of
some of the enzymes currently being produced for textile finishing
processes, including biostoning. If you?re interested in placing a
large order, some or all of these companies could help you out. They
--AB Enzymes (USA): EcoStone, BioTouch http://www.abenzymes.com/
--Americos Industries (India): Maxine NE, Cellucom 110 OM, and others
--Biozyme Int?l. P. Ltd. (India): Biofinase line http://business.vsnl.
--Diadic (USA): Rocksoft http://www.dyadic-group.com/wt/dyad/stone_wash
--Genencor (USA): IndiAge line http://www.genencor.com/pdf/
--Iogen (Canada): Denabraide line http://www.iogen.ca/HTML/4200.html
--Kenencore Group (India): Cellucom, Cellscos http://www.
--Novozymes (Denmark): DeniMax line http://www.novozymes.com/cgi-bin/
--Sunson (China): liquid & solid generic cellulase http://www.
But if you?re interested in smaller quantities, a chemical supply
house is one type of source from which you might be able to purchase
some cellulase, though you will have ensure that the type you are
purchasing is the correct type, since they?re often listed only by
chemical name. For example, there are cellulases made for use in
septic tanks or as nutritional supplements. Here then are two sources
I was able to find for you to check out:
ScienceLab.com is ?the low price leader in laboratory equipment and
science educational products, offers thousands of products in a range
of categories.? They do sell to individuals and since their store is
entirely online, you can browse and buy 24/7. Click on the link above,
then scroll down to ?cellulase? where you?ll see they have two
different types in a selection of quantities. After reading the above
articles, you can also try searching for other specific enzymes by
Advance Scientific and Chemical also carries a selection of celluases
in smaller quanitities.
Ideally, the best source would be a company that offers products
specifically formulated for your needs, and I was able to find one:
This company, Specialty Enzymes and Biochemicals Co., located in
California, has a range of products available specifically for textile
processing, including various enzyme products. Follow the link at the
bottom of the page to ?view the textile product range? to see more
details. Their contact page indicates that they do sell products to
direct users as well as manufacturers, but you would need to fill out
the contact form and get in touch with their sales staff to inquire
about making a purchase from them.
I hope you will find that the information and links given will help
you in your desire to be able to age distress new clothes so they will
look worn and old. I do have several emails out that I have not
received replies to, but I will post a clarification should I receive
any. And of course, if anything isn?t clear, please do use the ?
Request Clarification? feature to ask before rating and closing your
question, so I can be sure you?re happy with the information provided.
Thank you for a very interesting challenge, and best of luck in your
Search terms used:
[?how to? fabric distress OR age]
[fabric aging OR distressing]
[?how to? ?new clothes? age OR distress OR antique]
On reading through the returns on these, I then tried these:
[?what are? enzymes]
[enzymes clothing OR fabric OR textiles]
[buy textile enzymes OR chemicals]
[enzymes biostoning OR bio-polishing OR textile]
[biotech cellulase textile products]
[buy enzymes "textile processing" OR "fabric processing" OR biostoning
OR scouring OR bleaching]
In addition, it was a matter of sifting/reading through the results (
and not just the first page or two) engendered by the various search
terms, and then following up on promising leads, including searching
on specific names of companies mentioned in various articles.