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12/ HAS PROTECTIONISM MADE SOURCING IN AMERICA GREAT AGAIN? The potential of sourcing in the States looks bright.

Publisher Edward Hertzman edward@hertzmanmedia.com

17/ THE AMERICANS Meet six American brands leaving their own mark on the denim industry.

Editorial Director Angela Velasquez angela@hertzmanmedia.com

24/ SOUTHERN CHARM Emerging brands and the return of textile production are setting up the South for a blue jean revival.

Assistant EditoR Emily Goldman

29/ WELCOME TO NEW YORK New York Denim Days invites the world to experience denim like a real ‘New Yawker.’

Contributors Mary Avant Tara Donaldson Arthur Friedman Lyndsay McGregor Judith Russell Genevieve Scarano

34/ WHITE HOUSE White hot denim renews women’s collections for Spring ’18.

Designer Celena Tang

40/ KINGPINS TREND Discover the next evolution of retro, ethnic and workwear denim.

Photographer Rick Day

46/ VINTAGE REBOUND A perfect storm is driving up the demand for vintage denim.

Associate Publisher Joel Fertel

48/ DEEP BLUE The water-saving measures that can help reduce the denim industry’s enviromental impact.

Director of Business Development Eric Hertzman

50/ 2017 U.S. DENIM IMPORTS Bangladesh and Vietnam continue to capture share of the jeanswear market.

Hertzman Media Group 545 8th Ave. Suite 530 NY, NY 10018 212.967.3065 www.rivetandjeans.com

52/ INSIDE ADVANTAGE Fiber companies ramp up efforts to diversify denim’s capabilities. 56/ R.I.P. FASHION TRENDS Are seaonal trends history, and if so, what should designers base their collections on?





HAS PROTECTIONISM MADE SOURCING IN AMERICA GREAT AGAIN? American manufacturers says business is picking up, politics or not. TARA DONALDSON

n more cases than not, protectionism carries with it negative connotations, but America’s increasingly strained trade relations may be giving Made in America sourcing a little kick in the pants. Whether that’s for fear of altered trade regulations and sudden and soaring duties for foreign dealings remains to be seen, but U.S. manufacturers have had positive things to say for the potential of sourcing in the States. For Jim Andriola, a sales representative for Texollini, a Long Beach, Calif.-based fabric supplier, interest in Made in America at Texworld USA this year was reaffirming of a trend he saw shaping up in the years following the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Around 2010, Andriola said, “A lot of low-tech industries began looking for sourcing locally. Not to change their platform in a dramatic way, but to consider their platform in a different way.” From there, the entrance of fast fashion made Made in America an increasingly interesting option. “It was the changing mindset of the leading retailers, like Zara, which is very fast fashion,” he said. “You can’t do very fast fashion 8,000 miles away, but you do it in shorter runs and you do it more often.” The U.S. can be considered among the more innovative in the industry and the country isn’t making a million units of cotton jersey T-shirts, Andriola explained. “We make the product that you need in the store to separate you from the competition. That’s what I think our hemisphere is about.” More than offering compelling product to a consumer that will no longer settle for less, making in America has meant a peace of mind it hasn’t meant in recent years. “Our geopolitical moment that we’re in,” Andriola said. “I think that’s also going to keep people focused regionally as opposed to just globally. They have to be aware that things could change dramatically and they have to protect their business.” Texollini has seen interest in U.S. sourcing growing slowly but steadily since 2010, and now the confluence of things like the financial situation, environmental awareness, Millennials’ desire for uniqueness and the shifts in how brands and retailers get product to the consumer has made sourcing in America great again—or at least it’s started to. Companies that weren’t interested in U.S. manufacturing before are starting to partake, according to Andriola, and those early adopters who started putting their U.S. sourcing strategies in place between 2012 and 2014 now have factories in place and production is getting underway. “This is the most animated I’ve seen our ecosystem in a long time and it seems like a very exciting time to be in the industry again,” Andriola said. “So factories and mills and yarn spinners, they should all be feeling that opportunity is knocking on the door and we should be poised to take advantage of that. And I think it’s happening.” But what’s it going to take for greater uptake in U.S. sourcing? Amazon, of course. u



“Amazon is going to lead a very strong resurgence in this hemisphere with their private label brands and their approach to manufacturing, and I think it’s going to be incumbent on the rest of the industry to pay attention to that and figure out how to participate. That’s going to be the game changer for the next 10 years,” Andriola said. For David Sasso, vice president of sales for Samil Spinning Co. & Buhler Yarns, the U.S. needs more than Amazon if there is to be any kind of sourcing here to talk about. “What’s missing in the United States is diversity,” Sasso said. “We lost so much know-how in our industry and if you want to have some special finishes, you can’t do it because either the machinery is not there or the know-how is not there.” American manufacturers may also be ill prepared to ride the wave in the direction that apparel is going. “U.S. mills don’t handle low minimums very well and that’s something they’re going to have to learn because that is the future of manufacturing,” Sasso said. But beyond that, those interested in sourcing in the U.S. will have to readjust their perspectives on price and accept that U.S.made is going to mean more money. “People who are sourcing need to understand this thing of making to what demand is as opposed to ‘I need to have fabrics or garments that are the same price as what’s made in Asia,” Sasso said. “It’s about a healthy supply chain and what’s feasible. It’s about understanding that manufacturing to known demand has lower risk than sourcing far away. Product has to be on target—design, color, fit, all these things. If you know what you’re making, then you could sell first price. You see the rise of custom made products— what risk is there if you know what you’re going

to make and it’s already sold?” Whether people who are sourcing have all this figured out yet or not, they are at least looking to dip a toe into U.S. manufacturing. Billy Park, sales manager for Los Angelesbased Silver Vision Textiles, said interest in what U.S. mills are doing is high. “We’ve been getting a lot of reaction from people looking for U.S.-made fabrics. A lot more than before,” Park said. “It seems like last year a lot of people, startup companies, they reached out overseas to China and made the trial and error and it didn’t seem too positive I guess.” Silver Vision Textiles has a wide range of knitters with different capabilities, and the company is producing thermals, sweaters and specialty novelty knits, among other things. Silver Vision counts Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Free People, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney and American Eagle among its clients. Though some buyers are surprised to know fabrics are still being made in the U.S., those in the know have been seeking out companies with quicker lead times, eco-friendly options and functional fabrics, according to Park. The key to translating that interest into any substantial sourcing in America, however, will be increasing awareness and making sure no one in the industry is surprised about what’s still being Made in the USA. “I think it’s more awareness of what capabilities we have, first of all, and then secondly, you may be paying a price at a premium,” Park said. “But there are also advantages to that even though you’re paying a higher price.” RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2017 / 17

THE American S


From ultra-cool Brooklyn to the free-spirited West, meet six up-and-coming American brands that are leaving their mark on the jean industry.

Noorism Rebuilds Denim, Piece by Piece


hat does denim look like through the lens of Noorism Founder Noor Zakka? Whimsical, vintage, original and sustainable. Launched in 2015, the Brooklyn-based brand is a part of the new pioneering Made in USA movement that embraces circularity and provides denim with a second life. Zakka upcycles re-claimed denim to create one-of-a-kind apparel and accessories, each with their own unique story to share. Over the past two years, Noorism has gained momentum in the Made in USA space with its mission to reduce clothing pollution through sustainable design. “I founded Noorism after being disheartened by the volume of poorlymade, practically disposable clothes produced by the fashion industry each year,” Zakka said. “I realized that while NOORISM

vintage denim was gaining traction, there were not a lot of people doing a whole collection using reclaimed jeans.” Having designed for Ellen Tracy, Tahari and Zac Posen, Zakka went on her own to establish Noorism. Since launching Noorism’s small first collection of two upcycled denim hats, she has grown her eco-friendly inventory to include reclaimed denim outerwear, accessories and wrap skirts that retail from $92 to $750. Each of Noorism’s items are developed with recycled vintage denim and contain black top stitch detail. The brand’s greener presence is fortified by its domestic supply chain. Noorism currently works with U.S.-based manufacturers that are willing to produce small quantities. For trims, Zakka works with companies based in New York City’s garment district, including Buttonology, Guide Fabrics and Mood Fabrics. With most of its production cycle taking place in New York City, Noorism can keep its denim production local and have resources within a five to ten-mile radius. “Made in USA means that the products are local and that they were not made in a sweatshop. It also costs more to produce because labor costs are higher, especially in New York, so it’s definitely part of the story

and part of the experience,” Zakka said. “I love making clothes in New York because the whole process can be done from start to finish.” For Spring ’18, Zakka is planning re-imagined classic denim styles. While prominent denim trends like colorblocking and patchwork continue to drive denim fashion, Zakka is adding her own sustainable spin to the upcoming collection. Using leftover scraps, Zakka says the new line will feature allover patchwork fabric for a unique, eco-friendly look. Another new style in the works will incorporate mosaics, which will be inserted to the back of classic jean jackets to show iconic landmarks, including the Brooklyn Bridge. The collection will be co-created with Zero Waste Daniel, a New York City-based company that makes apparel from 100 percent scrap material. Zero Waste Daniel incorporates founder Daniel Silverstein’s ReRoll technique, which involves sewing apparel waste scraps into new clothing pieces. The brand currently operates a flagship in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to her upcoming Spring ’18 collection, Zakka aims to further reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. She said that consumers choosing to make more eco-conscious decisions, coupled with a nationwide effort of minimizing production overseas, could support the ongoing Made in USA ethos. “People are more aware of where their clothing and food comes from these days. They want to know the story behind the product and that is part of their experience in buying it and owning it,” Zakka said. “I think anything that levels the playing field in terms of cost to produce will be helpful, but the difference between making something in New York or making something in a place like Indonesia for example will be hard to level out until those less expensive areas start becoming more expensive.” —Genevieve Scarano u






Blue Delta Jean Co. Brings Bespoke Denim to the South


he story of Blue Delta Jean Co. is not unlike the American Dream: two childhood friends from Mississippi, both without a lick of denim experience, discover the opportunity to purchase a long-forsaken garment operation in Tennessee and decide to make jeans. However, Blue Delta Founders Nick Weaver and Josh West took their story further by scaling their Made in USA denim label into a premium bespoke service available across the U.S. “In the beginning people purchased from us because it was two country boys making denim—[it] was a good story, but now the product speaks for itself,” Weaver said. The company launched in 2009 after West persuaded Weaver to join his plan to create custom raw denim based on a thread theory. Thread theory makes up the three distinct stitch patterns on a jean. Blue Delta’s bespoke process allows the customers to have input on the thread theory to achieve a unique look for each pair of jeans they have made. “I didn’t know about raw denim and I’m not sure how much Josh knew about it, but there was a great foundation,” Weaver added. West, a former economic developer whose job was to recruit companies to work in Mississippi, and Weaver, a former software and business developer, moved the old sewing machines purchased in Memphis to a factory in Tupelo, Miss., where they tapped into the dense network of unemployed seamstresses after the garment industry left the region. Today, Blue Delta employs around 18 employees, including former Levi Strauss seamstresses and a third-generation pattern maker that hand drafts patterns for each client. “Our ignorance was a blessing in the beginning because if we knew how hard it would be, we might have not tried to make jeans,” Weaver said. West and Weaver’s efforts to simplify the bespoke denim process haven’t gone unnoticed. Customers can send in their

favorite jeans for Blue Delta to “clone” or have a pair made from scratch. Through Blue Delta’s website, customers can request a fitting with one of the company’s partners located across the country. Each 16-point measurement session with one of the brand’s partners, allows the customer to be a part of the actual design process. The customer can select their denim, cut, thread theory and hardware placement for their jean. Jeans are ready in approximately six weeks. By the end of the year, West says the brand will have partners in 110 cities across the U.S., as well as in the UK and Canada. An online “closet” for patterns will launch later this year, making it easier than ever for customers who have already been measured to place their next order. Cone Mill and Denim North America are go-to mill partners for Blue Delta, which rounds-out its denim offerings with some twill and duck canvas. The company also makes a 10-ounce pant from Holland & Sherry, makers of the green jacket from the Augusta National Golf Course. “We make everything here in America, but we don’t discriminate on fabrics,” West said, adding, “We buy some from Candiani and Japan. We try to find the best.” The best fabric and achieving the best fit comes at a price. Jeans retail for $500 to $1,000. “To figure out how to make the jeans was one hurdle, but how to reach the masses has been another,” West said. Weaver added, “We never struggled to get people to buy the product. Getting the geography in place has been our struggle.” Through trunk shows, high-end retail partners and word-of-mouth, Blue Delta has found its audience, including professional athletes who struggle with finding the right fit. The brand services 29 out of the 30 Major League Baseball teams in the U.S. “We started with one player and now we have over 20 percent [of the league] wearing the jeans,” West said. The denim community is close-knit and Blue Delta has certainty found its niche of denimheads that seek out the finest materials and craftsmanship. However, Weaver and West believe they can introduce new people to denim through Blue Delta. “A lot of customers are athletes and artists and regular Wall Street guys who can’t fit into something,” West said. “We have been able to bridge that gap.” —Angela Velasquez




Freenote goes West for its U.S. Denim Collection


merica’s rugged West and craftsmanship come together in Freenote. Founded in 2013 by brothers Andrew and Matt Brodrick, the California-based menswear label is known for premium denim garments that resonate with the state’s past rancho era. “We all try to reinvent the wheel in some sense, but we thought there was a hole in the market,” Freenote Co-founder Andrew Brodrick said. “There were a ton of brands that were close to what we were looking to achieve, but nothing that spoke to us.” After cutting their teeth in the surf, snow and skate industries, the Brodrick brothers set out to create an authentic menswear brand that focused on classic American styling, fit and quality—without taking production outside of the U.S. Over the past four years, the label’s denim jackets and jeans have been snapped up by consumers. And, unlike competitors’ offerings, Freenote’s attention to detail, focus on fit and a domestic manufacturing process has placed it ahead of the pack. The label’s Royal Cast denim jacket, which is a best seller and retails at $280, features 14-ounce light indigo denim from Hishitomo Mills in Japan, classic zigzag stitching, custom metal trims from Kentucky, selvedge detail on the interior front pocket, a hand selected leather u RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2017 / 21









interior pouch and is sewn in the U.S. The jacket’s 100 percent cotton fabication allows consumers to break in the garment for a personalized fit. “We source almost an equal amount of fabric from the U.S. and Japan. Cone Mills in Greensboro, N.C. has been a great partner to us since day one,” Brodrick added. “As for Japan, there are several mills we use including Kuroki and Yoshiwa.” Even small denim details, including brushed copper rivets and buttons, are sourced from the U.S. Freenote purposely matches rivets to vintage trims to ensure authenticity and features buttons made from genuine horn and corozo nut, not synthetic materials. The label’s denim zippers also have a rich U.S. history, since they hail from Talon, the American company that developed the world’s first zipper in 1893.




For Spring’ 18, Freenote culls inspiration from Western culture, including vintage and Americana-style denim jackets and jeans. “We live in a small Western town in California so we always feel close to Western styling,” Brodrick said. “Where the dusty West meets the ocean is always on our minds.” This year, the label has also developed a broader range of fits for denim bottoms, as well as heavier denim for the winter season. Freenote currently offers three primary fits on its website—The Updated Slim, The Updated Classic and The Taper Fit. Each fit coordinates with a different denim style—the Rios Slim Straight Jean features a skinnier fit, while the Trabuco Classic Straight Jean and the Portola Taper Jean provide a roomier fit. Each style caters to the unique preferences of Freenote’s consumers, while staying committed to the label’s vintage-meets-West vibe. “We simply try our best to make menswear that represents who we are as a brand and family. You can see right through when other brands bite something that is not authentic to them,” Brodrick said. “We live in America and are very proud to represent our country by being 100 percent Made in the USA, but it makes us equally proud to represent who we are as Americans in our clothing and style.” —G.S.

Dearborn Denim Nests in Chicago


he birthplace of deep dish pizza, “the Bean” and Wrigley Field is also the home turf of the latest Made in USA denim brand, Dearborn Denim and Apparel. Founded by Robert McMillan, Dearborn manufactures men’s and women’s jeans in a former industrial laundromat in Chicago’s Garfield Park. The direct-to-consumer brand launched online in 2016 and recently opened its first brick-and-mortar store in the city’s trendy Hyde Park neighborhood. While Chicagoans have been privy to Dearborn for several months, the brand is garnering interest across the U.S. for its sweet price points (on average jeans retail for $60) and commitment to fair wages. Without wage pressure from big box retailers, McMillan says he can pay his employees $15 an hour, as opposed to the area’s industry average of $12. “They deserve every penny of it,” he said. A true Made in the USA company, Dearborn sources fabric from Denim North America and Mount Vernon and zippers from YKK. “I see the value of employing people in my home city and I think using American made materials for what we do helps support that in other communities,” McMillan explained. With mill partners like Denim North America and Mount Vernon, McMillan said the company is more focused on quality than fashion. “If you look at Levi’s stretch denim jean, I would venture to say that ours is superior, and we’re beating them on price,” he said. “One of the goals is to have it American-made, made the right way so you don’t have to worry about the supply chain.” The brand is in the business of creating high-quality staples, offering men’s denim in tailored, relaxed and slim fits in dark, medium and light washes, with more on the way. The women’s collection includes skinny high rise and straight leg cuts. And, for those wanting more than basic jeans, denim jackets are

Bluer Denim Pursues Domestic Premium Roots


remium jeans, a reduced environmental impact and corporate responsibility are at the helm of Bluer Denim’s Made in USA foundation. Launched in 2013 by denim veteran Jeff Shafer, the Portland, Ore.-based brand is known for its high-quality raw selvedge

due soon. While men’s online sales outpace women’s, McMillan reported that store sales are split fifty-fifty. Dearborn also does private label business for other brands, which end up marking up the product to $180 to $200, retail. As a relatively new company, McMillan, a former bonds trader, makes most of the calls and wears the design hat every now and then. “At the end of the day we’re not deciding the trends,” he said. “We’re making very nice staples.” Dearborn’s current labor force is an intimate 14 to 15 people factory-wide, and manufactures around 2,000 pairs of jeans a month. While McMillan says the business could grow “tenfold” without too much additional equipment, he wishes to scale in moderation and maintain quality, adding, “We want to make sure that we’re delivering a great product and great experiences as we grow.” The brand opened its first brick-andmortar store earlier this year in Chicago. The 1,200-square-foot store mirrors the authentic, American-made denim Dearborn is known for, with its wooden shelves and solid wood kiosk, which McMillan assembled with a friend in true Dearborn style. “We make our jeans, we make our stores,” he quipped. McMillan said he had hesitations prior to opening the brick-and-mortar store. He found himself wondering how a retail store would opertate with only denim. So, he decided to sell other locally-sourced and made goods to round out the store’s assortment, including T-shirts and hoodies made by local designers. “Now I’m thinking of opening up a couple more in Chicago, [but,] that’s still early planning,” he said, noting that everyone is not an online shopper. “You’ve got to remember that e-commerce is growing quickly, but is still a relatively small percentage of sales,” he said. “[Shoppers] love the store—they love the fact that it’s made locally.” —Emily Goldman

denim—without an expensive markup or overseas production process. “I launched Bluer Denim as a direct-toconsumer brand of U.S. made premium denim at revolutionary prices, with transparent sourcing and a buy-one-giveone philanthropic model,” Shafer said. “Made in USA is very important to our customers.” The brand’s U.S.-based production partners are an integral part of Bluer Denim’s American footprint. The cotton used in Bluer Denim’s apparel is grown in Battleboro, Ga., denim is milled in Greensboro, N.C., garments are designed in Bluer Denim’s studio in Portland, Ore. and final products are sewn, washed and u RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2017 / 23

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the calf. A versatile and slim shape makes up the Slim Skinny High Rise fit, which features Soulmate Rinse denim in deep indigo. The Classic Boot is a timeless cut, with a medium rise and a slim bootcut fit. Unlike other domestic premium brands, Bluer Denim seeks to make high-quality jeans accessible. Men’s and women’s jeans start at $95, which according to the company, is nearly 50 percent less than competitor premium Made in U.S.A. products sold in stores and online. Consumers can also take part in Bluer Denim’s eco-friendly, Made in USA efforts. The company currently has a Buy One-Give One jean re-purposing program, which enables consumers to provide their denim with a second life. For every pair of jeans a consumer purchases, Bluer Denim will buy back a used pair for $5, clean them and deliver them to someone in need. With the program, Bluer Denim can preserve its Made in USA origins, while promoting a more circular domestic production process. —G.S. BLUER DENIM hand-finished in Los Angeles using sustainable ozone laundry methods. Cone Mills remains key to Bluer Denim’s Made in USA story. The company currently sources exclusively from Cone’s White Oak plant, which serves as the production hub for Cone’s domestic premium denim. “They are great people and the only heritage mill left in the U.S.,” Shafer added. Even Bluer Denim’s jean details— from leather patches to zippers—possess domestic roots. The brand uses YKK buttons, rivets and zippers developed in Kentucky and its jean leather patches are handcrafted by Tanner Goods, a sustainable leather goods company from Portland. The brand currently offers a variety of men’s and women’s premium jeans. For men, the company features four different denim styles—Slim Taper, Slim Straight, Classic Straight and Loose Straight. The Slim Taper is Bluer Denim’s slimmest fit for men made with 100 percent doublering spun cotton finished with a classic red line selvedge. In between skinny and loose fits, the Slim Straight contains 100 percent double-ring spun cotton with a white selvedge finish. As a classic fit jean, the Classic Straight style also contains a white selvedge finish and I.D. raw denim with a uniform black color. The Loose Straight is a more traditional men’s denim cut, complete with a deep indigo hue. Women’s denim comes in four core styles—Matchstick, Slim Skinny Low Rise, Slim Skinny High Rise and Classic Boot. Matchstick’s Soulmate Rinse denim—which contains 92 percent ring spun cotton, 7 percent polyester and 1 percent elastane, fits very slim on the body. Slightly roomier than the Matchstick, the Slim Skinny Low Rise Jean features the Soulmate Rinse denim and provides more flexibility at

AMO Denim Makes Made in USA Fashionable


os Angeles serves as a U.S. base for denim lovers, playing home to brands like Reformation, Citizens of Humanity, Mother and as of 2014, AMO Denim. Named after the Latin root for ‘love,’ AMO Denim was formed when former Current/Elliot design director Kelly Urban and Misty Zollars, the former senior design manager at True Religion, were inspired by their own personal desire for the ‘perfect’ pair of jeans. The denim veterans loved the look of vintage denim, but longed for the proper fit and amount of stretch. Thus, AMO denim was born: a modern, vintage-inspired denim collection combining the best of both worlds in the heart of California. “We are both L.A. natives,” the pair said. “With that, it is natural that AMO fits into the L.A. style scene effortlessly as denim has a huge influence on day-to-day style here.” Retailing for around $250, the brand’s jeans are frequently worn by the likes of Heidi Klum, Olivia Wilde and Sarah Jessica Parker. After shipping its first product in February 2015, AMO quickly gained momentum and now boasts stocklists across the globe, online and in brick-and-mortar stores like OTTE, Nordstrom, Revolve and ShopBop. However, Los Angeles remains AMO’s home. “Los Angeles is known as one of the very best places in the world to manufacture denim, we wouldn’t make our jeans anywhere

else,” said Urban and Zollars. “We believe that long line of expertise and craftsmanship shows through to our end product.” The co-founders also emphasized the importance of materials in making a solid pair of jeans, saying a good pair of jeans should get better with each wear, something they believe AMO’s denim accomplishes by being manufactured in the States. “Made in USA denim brands have the best sewing contractors and wash houses. The people that work at these facilities are true artisans at what they do. They have an exceptional eye and are just as passionate about creating beautiful clothing as we are,” the pair said. Best-selling styles include the Twist, a skinny jean with a twisted-out seam and notched hem, the Tomboy, the brand’s take on a boyfriend jean and the Babe, a high waisted style with a straight, cropped leg, high rise and an old-school button fly. For Spring ’18, the brand continues its rigid denim program that launched this fall, and also expands deeper into knitwear. Both Urban and Zollars say a big bonus of producing denim in the U.S. is the brand’s proximity to its manufacturing team. “We feel as though we have full access to everything we want to produce,” they said of producing in Los Angeles. “We love being hands-on with our product, so it is great that all of our contractors are within a five-mile radius of our Los Angeles headquarters.” While producing fashion in the U.S. comes with a certain amount of prestige, the ladies of AMO Denim field concerns over the possible limitations of Made in the USA. “A misconception about made in USA products is that there are limitations on what can be produced here. We make every category here; denim, knits, wovens and sweaters,” the pair said. “We are proud to say that 100 percent of our collection is Made in USA.” One of the biggest challenges of making denim in the U.S. is remaining price competitive with denim brands that manufacture overseas. “Although it may be more expensive to produce in the States, we choose to because we want our jeans to be of the highest quality,” Urban and Zollars said. The duo takes pride in being hands-on with product daily. “There is a true connection when you can be involved in each step of the process,” they said. “We can ensure that our product has the integrity we envision.” —E.G.



Emerging brands and the return of textile production are setting up the South for a blue jean revival. MARY AVANT


ew things are more iconic to the American South than a classic pair of blue jeans. From cowboys and farmers to hip urbanites roaming the streets of Austin and Atlanta, every Southerner is tied together through a shared love affair with denim.

“They’re what you wore as a kid. It was the first pair of real pants you had,” said Farshad Arshid, owner of Atlanta denim boutique Ponce Denim Company. “Every kid down here grew up with that experience.” In many ways, the South itself grew up with the denim experience, serving as the U.S. hub for textile manufacturing (including denim) for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Following the invention of the cotton mill in Georgia in the 1790s—along with the debut of the first Southern textile mills in the early 1810s— the Southern textile industry hit its peak in 1948, accounting for nearly 1.3 million jobs across the region. Many of these were located in the Carolinas and Georgia, with 40 percent of North Carolina’s jobs coming from the textile and apparel manufacturing industry in 1940. But as a low cost of labor and new trade deals drew business overseas— while an increasing reliance on automation replaced jobs back at home—the industry experienced a rapid decline in the span of just a few decades, leaving a mere handful of functioning mills by the early 2000s. These RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2017 / 26

included Georgia’s Mount Vernon Mills and North Carolina’s Cone Denim Mills. The latter has remained a leading supplier of denim textiles since 1891, operating its White Oak Mill out of Greensboro, N.C. During its 126 years in business, the company has earned a reputation for supplying premium, American-made denim to brands like Cole Haan, Current/Elliott, Nudie Jeans, Re/Done and Volcom. Even the jeans worn by American athletes at the 2016 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony were constructed using White Oak stretch selvedge denim. And now, as proof that history tends to repeat itself, the stage looks to be set for a growing number of textile mills, manufacturing companies and emerging denim brands to join Cone Denim and Mount Vernon Mills and resume business in the South. That’s because rising wages in countries like China, along with the skyrocketing costs of transportation and tariffs, are causing companies to flock back to the region to rebuild textile production—including denim. “We’re not fixing a broken industry, because it literally isn’t here anymore. What we have now is the opportunity to build the fashion industry as it should be built now,” said David Perry, founder and CEO of The DSP Group, a fashion design, sourcing and production management firm based in Los Angeles and Nashville, Tenn. “When you have fabric production in the South, it’s going to be a lot easier for the rest of the industry to follow suit,” he added, noting that he expects to see dye and wash houses—not just mills—make a comeback in the region.


Southern-Made, Southern-Loved



The New Denim Capital? Though best known as Music City, Nashville is quickly making a name for itself as the leader in the rebirth of Southern fashion and denim production. According to a Fashion Impact Study conducted by the Nashville Fashion Alliance (NFA), the capital city has the largest per capita concentration of independent fashion companies outside of New York and Los Angeles. It’s within a day’s drive to more than 50 percent of the U.S. population—making it an attractive manufacturing and distribution hub—and has a lower cost of living than many major cities across the U.S. Nashville is also responsible for producing more than 20,000 manufacturing jobs, and is looking to attract even more with business-driving incentives and tax policies, said Audra Ladd, creative economy manager for the Nashville Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development. This favorable set of circumstances leads the NFA to estimate that the impact of its coalition of fashion-industry members will reach an estimated $9.5 billion in revenue and 25,000 jobs by 2025 (up from $5.9 billion and 16,000 jobs in 2015). While Ladd said Nashville doesn’t plan to compete for textile mills or large-scale washing facilities, the market can offer emerging brands the support to grow all parts of their business. “Because Nashville’s emerging brands are collected around sustainable materials and processes and signature wardrobe pieces, they have similar sources for raw goods and work together to learn from one another,” she said. Nashville’s vibrant music culture has

also driven the growth of a collaborative creative community, welcoming new arts and businesses with true Southern hospitality. “A rising tide floats all boats,” said Perry, who is also the co-founder of Nashville apparel and denim brand Two Son. “As the South becomes more popular and Nashville becomes more popular, each brand supports each other.” In addition to Two Son, these supportive denim brands include hometown favorites Imogene + Willie and Fashionable. Created seven years ago as a nonprofit selling artisanmade scarves from Ethiopia, Fashionable has since expanded into the apparel category, introducing a dedicated denim collection earlier this year. Aligning with its mission to empower women around the world—all of its products are crafted by underprivileged women in developing countries, providing them with a sustainable income—Fashionable introduced its denim collection in order to fully outfit its female clients. “I don’t think a lot of brands in the South have done that yet,” said fashion director Jordan Soderholm. While she acknowledged that Imogene + Willie paved the way for denim brands in Nashville (much like Billy Reid did for the jean scene in Alabama), “both of those brands are a little more high end, and we’re able to step into the marketplace at a really approachable price.” Fashionable’s competitively priced jeans (ranging from $128 to $148), impactful story and reputation as a Southern-born brand are just a few of the reasons the company is experiencing notable growth. “Clothing is our armor. It’s the story we tell about ourselves,” said Van Tucker, CEO of the NFA. “And when we associate with stories that brands tell, that’s really saying something about ourselves.”

One advantage of telling the Southern-based denim story? It resonates deeply with shoppers across the region. “Having moved here from Los Angeles, where so much about the West Coast mentality is very transient, you come to the South and you realize that they’re very local,” Perry said. “When a brand starts and it becomes established in the South, there’s a loyalty to it.” Raleigh Denim has seen firsthand how far this local loyalty can take a brand. After making denim in their apartment nearly a decade ago, Victor Lytvinenko and Sarah Yarborough’s line of carefully crafted jeans was picked up by Barneys in 2009. Since then, the label has built a factory in Raleigh, N.C., where it continues to design its own fabrics and make almost all of its products by hand. The brand is a favorite at Indigo & Cotton, a men’s clothing and sneaker boutique in Charleston, S.C., where the Raleigh’s Jones raw selvedge style has been a best seller since day one. “When we find a brand that we really love and really works with us, we just want to stick with them,” said Owner Brett Carron, adding that the label’s approach to denim—building its manufacturing from the ground up, producing all of its products in house and working with local partners like Cone Denim for textile procurement—sets Raleigh Denim apart from many brands on the market. Raleigh Denim’s made-in-the-South story also resonates with Arshid’s shoppers at Ponce Denim Company in Atlanta. “As soon as somebody hears something they make a connection with, they perk up. They love it,” he said. “There’s a certain sense of pride that u



people tend to show with that brand, from a regional standpoint and a connection to it.” Not only does the local, Made in USA story resonate particularly well with the average Southern shopper, but it’s also something they’ve come to anticipate from brands in the region. “They expect a decent-quality fabric, they expect really good construction, they expect it to be U.S. made,” Perry said. “That heritage movement that started about seven years ago hasn’t waned. The only thing that’s really changed is that people are asking the sustainable question and the transparency question now, too.” That’s why Perry is launching a program using sustainable, Tennessee-grown cotton in his denim and other apparel. “So on a hangtag, I can put a dot on a Google Map [to show] exactly where the farm is where my cotton came from,” he said.

What Southern Shoppers Want

Aside from higher-quality products, greater transparency and an American-made jean, the Southern denim shopper is also looking for classic, clean and timeless styles to add to their collection. In general, Southern women love a traditional blue skinny jean in a dark wash and great fit, said Jenny Passavant, denim designer at Fashionable. “Whereas in New York, you’re not seeing as much of that anymore. It’s all about black or pale vintage with rips,” she added. “I do think in the South there’s more need for beautiful washes that span the color range of blue and that fit really well.” RALEIGH DENIM

FASHIONABLE Southern customers are especially partial to the brand’s slouch and kick crop jeans, as well as its denim jacket. In Atlanta, Arshid has noticed that pocket detailing and heavy distressing are disappearing from the Southern wardrobe. “We’re seeing that the casual glitz-and-glamour jeans are kind of fading away a little bit,” he said. “We’re seeing women come in with jeans with a ton of pocket detail saying, ‘I want something completely clean and simple.’ So, they’re simplifying it a little bit.” As for men, a slim-straight fit in a classic vintage wash is always a hit. “They’re seeking out something that’s going to fit well and isn’t screaming, ‘Hey, look at me!’ with holes in the knees or anything like that,” Carron said. “Just

something that’s going to look good, hold up, wear in and look great over time.” Speaking of wearing them in, Southern shoppers are also turning to vintage jeans and raw denim, choosing to break them in, then get them repaired or restored for a one-of-a-kind look, Arshid said. “It’s the closest thing you’re going to get in regards to customized denim.” Though customers in the region value style just as much as denim wearers in other areas of the country, comfort and functionality are also high on their list of must-have denim features, Passavant said. “They’re looking for functionality, and our denim was designed with those women in mind,” she added. “We design it to be high-performance stretch so they can move around in them and wear them to work and then wear them out with their kids to the park. That’s what our Southern customer is looking for—major functionality and comfort.” As for price, the average shopper is comfortable paying anything between $200 to $300 for an authentic selvedge jean, as long as it’s made from high-quality materials that will hold up for years to come. “They’re not trying to buy denim all the time,” Passavant added. “They want to buy some investment pieces and wear those for the next couple of years.” And while denim does tend to be a highly seasonal item in the South—where it’s not unusual for temperatures to regularly reach the high 90 or triple-digit degrees during long summer months—brands are already hard at work developing lighter-weight substitutes. Raleigh Denim’s chambray jeans and linencotton five pocket cuts, for example—what Carron calls non-denim denim—have sold well with Indigo & Cotton shoppers. “But if you’re carrying 18-ounce Japanese selvedge in a retail store in July in Nashville,” Perry said, “You better be prepared to hold onto the inventory for a while.”


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WELCOME TO NEW YORK The inaugural New York Denim Days introduced a new level of cool to the B2C event. ANGELA VELASQUEZ

ew York Denim Days made its blue debut Sept. 29-Oct. 1, shining a spotlight on the global denim scene from a completely New York perspective. Based on Amsterdam Denim Days, the consumer-oriented festival invited students, families, denimheads and fashionistas alike to experience denim-focused seminars, workshops and demonstrations, as well as opportunities to shop for new and vintage denim. The three-day event launched with Denim Legends, an invite-only session of seminars at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where Andrew Olah, Kingpins founder, FIT instructor and New York Denim Days co-founder, explained the need to celebrate denim and its history. “Before we started Kingpins, our industry was always blended into other textile shows. Our $110 billion industry deserves its own format. Someone has to record its history,” he said. FIT alum and Diesel USA CEO Stefano Rosso discussed his brand’s iconic advertising and how its adjusting to social media. 3x1 Founder Scott Morrison shared how his various industry experiences led him to create a denim factory in the heart of SoHo. Stefan Siegel, founder of the Not Just a Label, an online platform for emerging designers, encouraged FIT students to be their own storytellers. Adriano Goldschmied urged the denim industry to implement more technology into day-to-day business to allow more time for creativity. And, Sanjeev Bahl, president of Saitex, shared how the Vietnam-based factory aims to be a bright spot in a dirty industry by creating sustainable solutions throughout the denim manufacturing process. New York Denim Days festivities continued at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea where the New York Denim Days Festival was held. Here, consumers discovered up-and-coming brands like Detroit Denim Co. and 69, viewed Artistic Milliner’s collaboration with renowned New York street artist Hektad and tried on 3x1’s supersized jeans for a fun photo op.

Wrangler celebrated its 70th anniversary by dedicating its entire booth to its second collaboration with artist Peter Max. The ’70s-inspired, psychedelic capsule collection was a hit with New York’s fashion crowd. Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based children’s brand Beru Kids marked the 50th anniversary of Levi’s Trucker with revamped vintage jackets. Kids customized their T-shirts and jackets with quirky patches provided by the brand. Baldwin, Hudson Jeans, Mavi and Brooklyn Denim Co. introduced consumers to their latest collections, along with New York stalwart Jean Shop. The iconic New York store customized leather stamped bracelets for attendees, while Italian mill Candiani offered shoppers the chance to customize their own denim hat. Alvanon collaborated with Christine Rucci, Godmother NYC, to help attendees find their perfect fit through Alvanon’s 3D scanner that determines data from 2,000 points of the body. Rucci said New York Denim Days was the perfect opportunity to talk about fit, a topic she said is often overlooked at industry events. On the final day, the fun spilled outside for the Denim Days Street Festival, where vintage vendors, artisans and independent denim designers like Danyaki, Bit of Denim, Denimrush and Denimcratic shut down the street. The opento-the-public event featured live music, food trucks and family-friendly activities like face painting, mini golf and an emoji denim station organized by Artistic Milliners.

IT'S SHOWTIME New York Denim Days immerses consumers in the world of indigo.



MELTING POT New Yorkers paint the town blue with their individual denim style.



WHITE HOUSE White hot denim ignites Spring ’18 collections. PHOTOGRAPHY: RICK DAY STYLING: ANGELA VELASQUEZ







Kingpins Trend Spring/Summer 2019 Denim Trend Forecast A look at the next evolution of workwear, ethnic and retro denim design. WWW.KINGPINSSHOW.COM/TREND

BOUTIQUE BAZAAR The spotlight on the Middle East that drove last season’s fascination with re-worked Arabic typefaces further evolves this season to drive a more sophisticated, sun-bleached, desertinspired summer story. Time-worn textiles blend with ultra-faded indigos, cementing this as the season’s true vintage denim theme. Explore authentic artisanal crafts and techniques, including border prints, Islamic geometrics, hand-loomed blanket stripes and tufted surfaces. As modest-wear becomes mainstream, look to elongated silhouettes, loose and languid draping and lightweight layers. Detailing mirrors traditional yet simple dress with a focus on hand-fastened openings and onepiece pattern cutting.









DENIM DADS Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more normal... Drawing inspiration from the mundane, this story evolves from the anti-fashion movement epitomized by normcore and athleisure. Taking elements of last season’s youth-driven sportscasual styling and mixing it with sensible apparel, Denim Dads encompasses a look that references suburban middle-aged dad style. This is a story all about wardrobe essentials: the regular 5-pocket jean, the practical cagoule, the ugly sneaker, the blazer and the basic tee. Whereas last season focused on streetwear interpretations of staple pieces, this season novelty comes from comfort and familiarity. Odd proportions combine with ironic logos, oversized tailoring and technical details for a new uncool/ cool aesthetic.










CORPORATE CRAFT The current workwear trend is reinvented for Spring/Summer 2019, taking a more playful and artistic direction. Inspiration comes from the golden era of American convenience: the 1950’s. Retro service industry uniforms, corporate brand names and a synthetic color palette meet the blank canvas of uniform dressing. This is an internet-inspired, Generation Z take on practical hard work and the uniforms associated with it: mechanic’s coveralls, retro spread-collar shirts, clean, pressed pants and apron styling are updated with bootlegged branding logos, customized surfaces, hi-vis tapes and pastel trims. Based around anti-fit, unisex core pieces are easily mixed and matched, adapted, and customized to suit the needs of today. With its roots in more masculine, boxy silhouettes, the story is given a sugary pop-culture makeover with feminized colors, prints and fabrics. ARVIND LIMITED







VINTAGE REBOUND Nostalgia, social media and sustainability are driving up the demand for old denim. EMILY GOLDMAN + ANGELA VELASQUEZ


intage and deadstock are not just for denim diehards anymore. Millennial and Gen Z consumers are turning to vintage denim to satisfy their wants for nostalgic, sustainable, one-of-a-kind fashion with a story—and the experience that comes with hunting for blue gold. “As long as it’s vintage, it’s selling,” said Natalie Como, owner of the New York City vintage boutique, Empyrean Vintage. The store stocks vintage denim by obscure brands like Brittania and Bloomingdale’s old private label brand, Studio 54. Como says the demand for vintage denim has been constant during the last three years. The draw of vintage denim could be part of a much larger shift in consumer behavior—a new sharing economy forged by new generations that has made company names like Zipcar, Airbnb and Uber part of the everyday vernacular. Whereas in the past owning a home and a car were signifiers of success and adulthood, consumers are turning to more affordable sharing alternatives. Likewise, the stigma with shopping for used and pre-owned fashion has faded. A 2017 report by Thred Up, an online resale store, estimates the resale industry will grow from $18 billion in 2017 to $33 billion in 2021. Meanwhile, resale clothing, footwear and accessories account for 49 percent of the market. While there are economic benefits for shopping vintage, consumers are also coming to the realization that the perfect pair of broken-in jeans cannot always be found on the racks of Saks Fifth Avenue or even at a denim emporium like American Rag. Instead, coveted items are tucked away in vintage boutiques ready to be discovered. In fact, the same Thred Up report said high income shoppers that earn $125,000 or more a year are 35 percent more likely to try secondhand than low income shoppers. This might explain why customers flock to San Francisco-based Brent Edward Vintage for vintage luxury fashion. The boutique’s Versace and Moschino vintage denim are in demand. Brent Amerman, a self-proclaimed vintage connoisseur and dealer, said customers are also reaching for luxury denim by YSL from the ’70s and ’90s. It doesn’t hurt that fashion darlings like Calvin Klein Creative Director Raf Simons and Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele are adding a fresh coat of gloss to vintage shapes and washes in their recent collections. Or, that mainstream fashionistas are adopting denim. Earlier this year, Vogue editors published “foolproof” tips for buying vintage denim, while


V Magazine drenched beauty Bella Hadid in Bulgari jewelry and Guess denim in an editorial that went viral this summer. Instagram has undoubtedly had a hand in the rising popularity of vintage and customized denim. From wanderlust images of travelers in vintage cut-offs, to gratuitous selfies of Kylie Jenner’s and Kim Kardashian’s denim-clad rear-ends, the photo-sharing platform has introduced an entire new generation—which wore skinny jeans as toddlers—to anti-fit denim from the ’80s and ’90s. Another factor? Access to vintage denim has never been easier, suggested Haley Pelton, co-owner of Wayward Collection, a Philadelphia-based vintage store. “There are a ton of people selling curated vintage denim, so consumers have more access and familiarity with it and have come to see it as an exciting, collectible and sometimes thrifty alternative to contemporary pairs,” she said. The retailer noted that social media has created a feeding frenzy for vintage, especially for Levi’s. “Every fashion girl is wearing a pair with their Rosie Assoulin top or Balenciaga, so it has come to symbolize luxury in a lot of ways: being able to find a pair of vintage jeans that fit perfectly enough to pair with high-end designer,” Pelton explained. Bill Curtin, owner of Jersey City, N.J.-based BPD Washhouse and the New York City-based trade show BPD Expo, understands the link between denim and social media. This year Curtin opened BPD Vintage, a denim popup shop in New York’s Nolita neighborhood, offering a curated selection of vintage jeans, tops and jackets as well as shibori kits, vintage books, art, pins and patches. “The vintage stuff we customized at the washhouse always sold the same day and made it on people’s social media feeds regardless of brand,” he said. Curtin added that Manhattan shoppers sought pieces that were “just a little pretentious” and were a step above Goodwill or the Salvation Army. “The young New York City consumer is special. They are savvy, they want something trendy but not at designer prices.” Fast fashion retailers have supplied consumers with a flood of affordable vintageinspired styles to emulate the look. “The brand designers knock off vintage all of the time,” Curtin said. Both Zara and H&M have churned out denim collections made with rigid fabric, open-end optics, wider cuts and unisex pieces. Likewise, denim stalwarts Gap, Guess and Tommy Hilfiger advantageously launched product lines featuring iconic styles from their ’90s collection, reminding the fashion world that they are still relevant.

At the crux of it all is Levi’s, which has showed its support for brands that rework vintage denim, including Re/Done, Off-White and most famously, Vetements. The vintage market continues to feel lingering effects from Vetement’s Fall 2015 collection, which introduced $1,450 jeans made from two vintage pairs, sewn together. Ironically, the collection was born out of a roadblock that all new independent labels encounter: high minimums. The brand chose to rework existing vintage pieces to create new jeans because its quantities were too low for factories. Part of what made Vetement’s line so successful was its authentic look and washes. Despite new fabrications and wash techniques that capture vintage looks, the final goods are not making their way into stores the way consumers would like to see it. “We can’t get the same washes now,” Como said. Pelton from Wayward Collection, which stocks gems like ’70s-era Lee Jeans with clear PVC pockets, agreed. “It’s hard to recreate the color, hand-feel and fit of pre-worn denim, so in some ways contemporary pieces don’t even compare,” she said. The slowdown of skinny jeans and the rise in vintage may confirm that consumers are on the hunt for fashion that doesn’t exist in stores. Maresa Ponitch, owner of Dusty Rose Vintage, a Brooklyn vintage clothing store, pointed out that women are wearing higher cut jeans, like ’90s mom jeans and that reversely, relaxed ’70s jeans are also gaining traction. Women’s denim from the ’70s is in demand, with paper-thin high waisted bells by Double R and 517 cropped flare Levi’s Orange Tabs among the most popular styles at Wayward. “As far as ’70s jeans go, it seems that the Jane Birkin effect has remained very strong for a few years, meaning women still want that high waisted, effortless look that continues to elude modern denim design. It’s hard to fake years of wear,” Pelton said. “And frankly, I think people who are very serious about their denim, but who aren’t slim hipped 21-year-olds come to realize, after trying on a lot of jeans, that the Levi’s 501 isn’t the ‘end all be all.’” High waisted mom jeans are on the up and up at Bargain District, a Brooklyn-based vintage store owned by Monique Sinha, offering up everything from denim to pint-size purses. Dark wash workwear-inspired overalls by Lee are also resonating with her customers. Wrangler, Lee and Calvin Klein continue to be in be the most in-demand vintage brands, according to Ponitch. “Personally, I think it’s because [the brands] are very trendy. People who don’t know much about denim, but want to

do the trend right are going to gravitate toward what they see. Levi’s from the ’80s and earlier definitely fade in a unique way that a lot of people love, but there are tons of other great brands for the more adventurous spirits,” she said. Some of Ponitch’s personal favorites are C’est Ne Pas, Landlubber, Jag and Jordache. Como’s clientele favors jeans by hard-to-find brands like Brittania—which she resells for around $175—and Studio 54. The now elusive brand was sold in Bloomingdale’s in the 1970s and featured the iconic nightclub’s branding of ‘54’ stitched onto both back pockets. Like with all retail, vintage has its hurdles to overcome. No matter how old or unique an item may be, fit is still a crucial factor in purchasing decisions. “The number one thing I hear from women is that they just want something that fits,” said Elizabeth Parks Kibbey, owner of Collection, a vintage showroom in downtown Los Angeles. While most vintage denim shoppers seek a worn-in look and feel, Parks Kibbey’s clientele wants clean washes and no rips. Meanwhile, a smaller number of her clients invest in pairs based on their age and fabrication details like whether it is selvedge or single stitch. A good vintage find is something that a shopper connects with and feels confident in, said Fox Garza, co-owner of the Los Angeles denim repair and customization shop, Foxhole LA. Garza explained that the key to a good vintage find is keeping the longevity of the old piece and making it new. The shop breathes new life into vintage denim transforming it into custom pillows, motorcycle blankets, ponchos, purses, rugs and more. Foxhole also repairs damaged denim and offers a wide variety of customization to make a piece truly original, including tailoring the garment for a better fit. With vintage, consumers are getting the untold story and the idea of what could-havebeen in the pre-worn jeans. New York Citybased denim repair and customization shop Denim Therapy sees denim owners bringing in personal pairs, or those passed down through generations, for both resizing and customization. “We get a lot of older clients,” said Jessica Azoulai, Denim Therapy CEO and owner. Azoulai said her team, which includes Head Seamstress Marcia Cordero who previously spent 30 years working for Levi’s, fields requests from clients to take-in vintage pieces at the waist and legs. Other jeans are precious and have sentimental attachments. “[A client] sent us a letter along with the jeans saying that she was wearing the jeans when she met her husband, and she was still wearing the jeans when she brought her husband to the hospital and came back home alone,” Azoulai said. In a world of fast fashion and instant trends, denim proves to be an outlier. Consumers have a desire to grow old with their denim, showing that a good pair of jeans—whether passed down through generations or bought in a vintage store—can in fact withstand the test of time. BARGAIN DISTRICT RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2017 / 49

DEEP BLUE Waterless dyeing technologies and other water-saving measures can help reduce the denim industry’s environmental impact, so why haven’t more mills and brands cottoned on? LYNDSAY MCGREGOR


t takes more than 900 gallons of water to produce a single pair of denim jeans using conventional practices. That’s equivalent to a faucet left running for 15 hours, flushing the toilet 128 times in a row, or five years’ worth of drinking water for one person. In other words, denim production is thirsty work. At the same time, freshwater scarcity is one of the world’s biggest problems affecting more than 40 percent of the global population. The apparel industry’s dependency on this natural resource is creating an environmental crisis. So, it’s little wonder that watersaving measures are a hot topic on the trade show circuit. Denim mills and chemical manufacturers are increasingly plugging new water-saving dyes, waterless or near-waterless processes or manufacturing facilities equipped with technology to reduce water consumption. The declared results: a reduction in wastewater, energy, chemicals and effluent to such a degree that it could transform the denim industry. But according to Levi Strauss & Co., as water-intensive as conventional manufacturing processes are, they are only responsible for about a tenth of the water consumed in the entire lifecycle of a pair of jeans; cotton cultivation and consumer care use the most amount of water. That being said, it is the area that denim mills most directly control, and reducing that water intake on a large scale could considerably shrink the industry’s environmental footprint. “Water scarcity is unfortunately already a very harsh reality in some parts of the world,” said Nuria Estape, head of marketing and promotion of textile specialties at Swiss chemical company Archroma. “The most responsible brands and players in the textile industry fully acknowledge this reality and, under their leadership, impetus and initiatives, the entire industry is slowly but surely

turning to more sustainable practices,” Estape added. In recent years, big-name brands including Levi’s, Patagonia and Eileen Fisher have taken steps to reduce their water consumption by integrating water-saving measures into their production. After Levi’s discovered that a pair of 501 jeans used nearly 1,000 gallons of water in its full lifecycle, the company created Water<Less, a set of standards and tools that removed up to 96 percent of the resource from the denim finishing process. For instance, instead of using a lot of water and detergent to achieve a stonewashed look, Levi’s discovered how to get the same result using ozone gas. Patagonia reduced its reliance on the resource by 84 percent after swapping out synthetic indigo dye for lowimpact alternatives that adhere more easily to cotton. Similarly, Eileen Fisher worked with its Los Angeles jeans factory to develop two new washes, Utility Blue and Indigo, that both use 62 percent less water than the brand’s most intensive wash. It’s not just brands: Mills and suppliers are becoming more environmentally efficient, too. Trusty Trading, a waistband and pocketing specialist headquartered in Hong Kong, partnered with Archroma to create its new Eco Pocketing range. Thanks to Archroma’s near-waterlesss Optisul C dyes, Trusty says it was able to reduce its water usage by 94 percent, while also increasing speed to market. “At Archroma, we continuously challenge the status quo in the deep belief that we can make our industry sustainable,” Estape said. “This means we try and develop practical solutions that will help save resources.” In fact, Archroma has offered two eco-friendly dyeing processes under its Advanced Denim concept, DenimOx and Pad/Sizing-Ox, since 2009. By using sulfur dyes instead of indigo, traditional dyeing ranges comprising 15 vats are replaced with systems that use no more than five vats. On the machinery side of things, Jeanologia has been working with ozone finishing for more than 15 years and introduced its G2 washing machine in 2008, which uses oxygen and ozone gas instead of water and toxic processes to give jeans an aged look. The Spanish firm, which specializes in sustainable technology for garment finishing, claims that G2 cuts water consumption by up to 70 percent and chemical usage by up to 80 percent. “Technology minimizes water consumption and chemicals, eliminates waste and reduces energy in all processes. As a consequence, we save the planet—our common home—and, at the same time, we reduce costs and create a better product for the consumer,” said Carmen Silla, Jeanologia’s marketing manager.

That’s also the goal of Mexico-based mill Global Denim, which recently launched a zerodischarge dyeing process called Ecolojean that uses less water and energy than conventional methods require to dye one pair of jeans. “Instead of passing the denim or thread through water vats and dyeing vats, our Ecolojean process only puts them through dyeing vats and the dye bonds to the fabric without having to go in the water,” explained Anatt Finkler, Global Denim’s creative director. “When you dye conventionally, as much as 25 percent of the dye ends up in the water, but with Ecolojean, 100 percent of the dye that’s applied remains on the yarn.” Another Mexican firm, Kaltex, will release Aqueduct in Autumn/Winter ’18, a collection of fabrics created using water-saving practices such as a dyeing system that eliminates rinsing in fabric production. “We partner with the most innovative companies, the pioneers in sustainability such as Jeanologia and Tonello, to push the innovation forward,” said Jadel Lam, managing director of research and development at Kaltex. “We are constantly looking, researching and investing in new technologies that allow us to reduce water, energy and chemical usage.” But it’s not savings that concern the industry at large—it’s cost. Specifically, how much it’s going to cost to implement waterless dyeing or other water-savings processes and how that will impact profit margins. The average retailer, under pressure to meet consumer expectations for inexpensive clothing, isn’t willing to pay more for sustainable production methods if they can’t raise their own prices. Though as Silla pointed out, “Consumers do not want to pay more for something that is the manufacturer’s responsibility.” That’s not to say, however, that the upfront investment outweighs any future cost savings: a report released in 2015 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) revealed that 33 Chinese textile mills that cut their environmental impact in 2014 as part of the nonprofit’s Clean by Design program also saved a total of $14.7 million that year. Still, cost remains the biggest barrier to widespread adoption of water-saving technologies, including wastewater treatment facilties that allow factories to recycle and reuse water. Investment in water treatment varies but typically falls somewhere in the region of $1 million and $5 million, depending on the scale, capacity and consumption of water per day or year. According to Arpit Srivastava, marketing manager for India-based textile manufacturer Arvind, it’s worth it. “With water becoming a depleting resource, this is the future of the denim industry,” he said. Another assumption that affects implementation is that product quality will diminish, though most textile experts will say there is no aesthetical difference between denim dyed or finished using eco-friendly methods and denim treated using large amounts of water and chemicals. “Safe and sustainable does not require sacrificing aesthetics or quality,” said Alvyda

Kupinas, head of design at Kaltex. “If anything we are building a better, stronger product with a longer lifecycle.” Jeanologia’s G2 Dynamic technology, for example, achieves that worn-in look without water, chemicals or high temperatures, just ozone gas that’s injected into the tumbler that washes the jeans and doesn’t harm the fiber. However, there are limits when it comes to the colors that can be produced. “Water-saving technologies and practices do not necessarily affect the aesthetics of the fabric, but there are still limitations if we want to create diversity, especially for a wide spectrum of color in dyeing and sometimes developing different wash effects,” said Ebru Ozaydin, director of sales and marketing at Pakistani mill Artistic Milliners. Amrin Sachathep, director of Atlantic Mills, echoed that sentiment. “We have to strike the right balance between color fastness and being able to age the pair of jeans,” he said. “The correct dyeing mechanism would be just to dye the surface enough so that it washes down quickly yet keeps the fabric as deep and dark as possible.” Looks aside, seeing the bigger picture is the only way the denim industry will be able to

change. World Wildlife Fund says that some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water and that by 2025, two-thirds of the global population may face water shortages. “Going waterless is an overarching concept; you have to think of the entire supply chain, to save water at every single step,” Ozaydin said. “It starts with cotton harvesting and continues with dyeing, finishing and garment washing. Every step involves significant consumption of water.” The wasteful dye-to-water ratio is as good a place as any to start, but for water-saving measures to be widely adopted, equipment prices must come down substantially, according to Archroma’s Estape. “Technologies and innovation eventually need to be created in a manner that it is made affordable to everyone,” she said. Ozaydin agreed. “R&D teams must work hand in hand with decision-makers to identify strategies to significantly reduce water consumption with scalable and cost-efficient solutions,” she said. “We can’t continue consuming and polluting earth’s finite water resources—we have to save our planet.”



THE STATS 2017 U.S. year-to-date denim imports JUDITH RUSSELL


.S. denim imports edged down in the first seven months of 2017, according to data from the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA). Total imports of denim apparel in the period fell by 1.3% on a dollar basis, to $1.94 billion. Units rose by 1.3%, driving down average cost by 2.6% to $7.56. Denim imports have been on a downward trend since they peaked at $4.15 billion in 2013, with much of the drop due to declining prices. Though the premium end of the market remains robust and interesting, it still represents a small part of the overall denim market. For the mid-tier and mass segments, U.S. brands and retailers have been shifting the bulk of their sourcing to lower-cost countries to meet consumer demands for cheaper product. For the January through July 2017 period, China kept its position as the number one source of U.S. denim apparel despite losing 0.6 percentage points of import share compared to the same period in 2016, leaving it with 26 percent of the total. The average cost of denim from China increased by 4 percent. The number two trading partner, Mexico, lost 1.2 percentage points of share, the most share of any major trading partner, ending July with 22.7% of the year-to-date total.




Bangladesh gained the most share of any trading partner, picking up a percentage point, to 13.8% of the total. Vietnam gained 0.9 percentage points of U.S denim market share. Egypt and Pakistan also gained, while Cambodia and Nicaragua lost. Most of Egypt’s growth was in women’s jeans. Jeans represent almost all denim imports, at 98 percent of the year-to-date total. Men’s and boys’ denim represented the largest segment, at 51 percent of the total on a dollar basis, down slightly from the prior year period. The women’s and girls’ segment increased its share of total slightly to 47 percent of the total. The average unit cost of a pair of jeans fell about 3 percent, with men’s and women’s declining by the same amount. Denim jackets, skirts, dresses and other garments represent less than 2 percent of total denim imports. Through July, imports of denim jackets increased by 52 percent, but remain an extremely small portion of total denim imports. Men’s and boys’ jean imports dropped by 3.8% in the period, while women’s rose by 0.8%. Men’s and boys’ jeans suffered a less than one drop in units. Women’s units increased by 4 percent. China has exported a total of $504 million in denim to the U.S. so far this year, down 3.4% from the prior year period. Unit imports from China increased by almost 2 percent, resulting in an average cost per garment decrease of 5.2%, to $7.20. Men’s jeans from China fell more than women’s. U.S. brands imported $440 million worth of denim apparel from Mexico in the seven months ending July 2017, 6.4% less than in the same period in 2016. Total units from Mexico fell by 6.4% as well, so the average cost per pair remained flat at $8.14. Men’s jeans comprised 88 percent of U.S. denim imports from Mexico, and were responsible for most of the decline from that country as well. Imports from Bangladesh, the U.S.’s thirdlargest source of denim apparel, increased by 6.3% to $268 million, with most of the gains in women’s. Total units imported were up by 10 percent. The average cost of a pair of jeans from Bangladesh fell by 3.6% to $5.86, the lowest of any top 10 trading partner. The biggest percentage increase was enjoyed by Vietnam, whose denim exports to the U.S. rose by 18 percent, to $108 billion, despite the demise of TPP. Average unit cost fell 4 percent to $7.93, 10 percent higher than that of China. Egypt, the fourth largest source of U.S. denim imports, saw its shipments of denim to the U.S. increase by 15 percent, mostly due to a 14 percent surge in units.



INSIDE ADVANTAGE Fiber companies ramp up efforts to expand denim’s capabilities and diversity. ARTHUR FRIEDMAN casual wear and workwear to athleisure and activewear, while generally adding comfort, texture and performance characteristics to the fabric and finished product. Jean Hegedus, Invista global segment director for denim, said one of the hottest things right now in stretch is bi-stretch. “We’ve been working with a number of mill partners to develop new ways of executing bi-stretch that makes a better product for the consumer and a lot easier for the mill to handle,” she said.

,, DEN/IM 2.0


hile denim is certainly a staple wardrobe choice that crosses generations, fiber and fabric firms aren’t taking any chances it will fall out of favor. Instead, they are stepping up the innovation quotient and expanding denim’s capabilities and appeal. Using fresh technologies beyond traditional stretch, denim can now cross over from RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2017 / 54

In other denim specialized materials, Invista’s Coolmax is gaining popularity as a summer jean, while Tough Max continues to grow, especially in children’s wear. Also at Invista, Cindy McNaull, global Cordura brand and marketing director, said she’s calling the company’s next step in denim, “Cordura Authentic Alchemie 2.0.” Former Nike innovation director Linda Keppinger has been brought in to help put together some emerging macro consumer trends in the sector.



Hegedus explained that’s because traditionally mills have used bi-stretch as a replacement for Lycra by putting it in the warp and the weft. Now with Dual FX technology, several mills are replacing Lycra with Dual FX in the warp and weft. “The advantage is it gives you better stability, it’s easier to work with and had less warp shrinkage,” she said. Turkish mill Calik has come out with a denim line called Circular 100 that uses Dual FX in both directions, giving a softer hand and lighter weight. “High waist denim is very much in vogue right now, but one of the difficulties is when people sit down, it isn’t always comfortable,” Hegedus added. “Having the extra stretch in the warp direction helps make that a much more comfortable proposition.” Pakistan-based mill U.S. Denim has created a collection using bi-stretch Dual FX selvedge denim, which leads to a “modern take on vintage,” Hegedus remarked. Invista also has a new fabric weaving technology it developed to make bi-stretch “double beam” fabric. It uses two parallel warps—one of cotton indigo yarn and other Lycra-covered yarn that gets buried on the inside of the product. The result is low growth, easy to control warp shrinkage and can be used with a variety of fibers to create specialized fabrics. It requires a double-beam weaving setup and Invista is working with China’s Advance Denim on the first offerings.

“We’re then taking these trends and personifying them through the world of Cordura denim,” McNaull said. This is being done with Cordura’s global mill partners—Arvind, Artistic Milliner, Cone Denim, Advance Denim and Kipas—which helped Cordura put together a three-part trend pack called, “Imagination Without Limitation.” The first group, “Make it for Me,” is built around the notion of self-expression, authenticity and customized looks. Styles include garment wash denim or fabric with a special finish, lightweight but with strength. “Show Me You Care” echoes ecological consumer’s concerns and awareness of natural resources. It involves a partnership with Lenzing’s Tencel lyocell fiber and some testing being done with Lenzing’s recycled Refibra fiber. “Faster and Farther” is all about innovation and people being able to do more with their denim. “It’s really an extension of our Cordura Durability line that we’re calling Cordura Durability Plus,” McNaull said. “Its performance fabric that’s built to last–keep me warm, keep my dry, keep me cool, with freedom of movement and abrasion resistance.” Tricia Carey, director of business development for denim at Lenzing Fibers, said she’s taking a multifaceted approach to expanding the fiber company’s reach in the sector. It primarily involves going deeper into the Tencel brand’s reach into denim, while also

making inroads with Lenzing’s modal fiber. In the area of knit denim, Tencel is teaming with Santoni Knits for a collection of seamless knits. “Denim is a versatile partner to pair with anything and is a must-have in every season,” said Carey. “In an age where new innovations and interpretations drive the denim category, there is always something that emerges as a new way forward and Den/im 2.0 is presenting itself as that new evolution.” Each knitted garment in the collection incorporates fiber combinations and knitted structures to create a cross-over concept. Traditional sportswear, made with the cutand-sew concept from one material and one fabric structure, has a limited ability to provide sufficient local wear comfort. But the seamless functional features can incorporate superior moisture wicking by incorporating Tencel in a two-layer construction, while inclusion of high performance yarns provide superior temperature regulation, Carey noted. The collection is done in collaboration with garment finishing firm Tonello and the Spanish mill Unitin. At Kingpins Amsterdam, Lenzing will feature denim using its new Refibra recycled denim line, collaborated with eight denim mills and designer Adriano Goldschmied. Meanwhile, Lenzing’s Modal Black line will introduce Modal Black Plus, using solutiondyed Modal Black fiber and Cone Denim’s Repreve Black dope-dyed fabric. The processes

allow for a strong sustainability offering that saves water and energy and uses natural and recycled synthetic materials. Hyosung’s answer to specialized denim is Creora Fit2, a four-way stretch denim fabric with Creora Eco-soft in the warp and Creora spandex in the fill direction. Spongelike in touch with strong drapability, this new generation fiber allows for denim to be smoother and able to be sculpted. Additional iterations use high tenacity yarns to deliver a robust finish to denim, while personal well-being is enhanced by moisture management and antibacterial synthetic yarns or through performance finishing. Another trend group features Creora in a dry, textured feel through the use of yarn structures that includes blends of wool and linen. A sustainability aspect is brought out with Creora Eco-soft blended with recycled nylon or recycled polyester or recycled cotton denim yarns. Denim is among the markets that nylon manufacture and marketer Nilit is targeting with its new Sensil premium nylon 6.6 brand for apparel. Nilit presented Sensil at the Keyhouse/ Bluezone trade show in September, focusing on how naturally it blends with cotton to create modern denim styles that are fashionable while also having the performance capabilities to keep up with consumers’ busy lifestyles. Sensil performance products gives fabric designers many options to infuse denim with

valuable attributes that consumers require in contemporary jeans wear. The company’s performance yarns are enhanced to provide additional attributes that consumers desire in today’s advanced denim products. Sensil Breeze imbues denim with a cooling effect for enhanced comfort. Sensil Body Fresh protects against the odors microbes can cause, which means busy consumers don’t have to take time to wash their jeans as often. Sensil Heat warms on cool days, while Sensil Aquarius stays dry on warm days, and Sensil Innergy helps energize cells and reduce the appearance of cellulite. “Consumers are raising their expectations for denim just as they are for everything else that they buy,” said Pierluigi Berardi, Nilit’s global marketing director. “Cutting edge jeans wear requires cutting edge fiber technology like Sensil premium Nylon 6.6 performance yarns. Together with our supply chain partners, Sensil creates fabrics that are the smart choice for denim brands that want to effectively respond to these shifting consumer attitudes about clothing and shopping.”

creora® with creora® performance spandex

360˚ stretch for extraordinary comfort and perfect silhouette

for more information on creora® spandex contact:

David Jang www.creora.com creora® is registered trade mark of the Hyosung Corporation for its brand of premium spandex.

e-mail : carpatior@hyosung.com Tel : +82-2-707-7353




onello opened the doors of their new Creative Area in September with an exclusive two-day event called Inspiring. During the event, the garment finishing technology company launched their latest revolutionary ECOfree 2 technology. This new system allows you to treat your garments with ozone both in water and in air. Thanks to adopting cold plasma generators, the new technology can obtain higher concentrations of ozone with lower oxygen and electrical energy consumption compared with traditional systems. The ecological process results in lower consumption of electricity and water, shorter processing times, purification costs reduced to a minimum and absolute safety for the operator and for the final consumer. ECOfree 2 also allows for greater flexibility. With the combination of both processes, ozone in the air and in the water and traditional washes, new effects are obtained. At the Tonello Inspiring event, the most

influential denim players and brands discovered the company’s vision and experienced first-hand the brand-new technology. The concept of “Inspiring” means a lot to Tonello, so much that in a very short time it has become an essential component of their identity within the denim industry. Today, for Tonello, “Inspiring” means: • An event, a privileged moment for meeting and exchanging ideas at a high level with brands, designers and clients to give them a better opportunity to understand their evolution, technology and research activities. • A physical space and a real “soul place.” An atelier full of samples, machines and garments to freely experiment with solutions, test processes, effects and technologies. In short, a place where ideas begin and grow, and where it is possible to develop new solutions. • A new, unique and innovative service for project and technological collaboration with clients who can count on the support of

Tonello technicians and will be able to sample their technologies, processes and accessories to obtain surprising and innovative effects. • A team of professionals, technicians, researchers and highly creative people, guided by the experience of Massimo Falaguasta and Piero Turk. Tonello brings these four elements to life at the new Creative Area. The new “inspiring” space offers Tonello’s clients the opportunity to report, learn and start direct discussions and debates with those who live every day in the world of textiles and fashion, who breath it, work it and know all its secrets and potential. All this does not mean that they deny their nature and mission as producers of processes and technology. It means that they continue to evolve while remaining faithful to what they have always been: producers of ideas.

About Tonello

Tonello is the global leader of garment finishing technologies that, since 1981, has been contributing to the success that made in Italy has enjoyed all over the world. Thanks to its cutting-edge machines and its one-of-a-kind service, it acts side by side with its customers creating a link between the stylists and the companies working, dyeing and finishing the garments. With more than 7,500 machines sold worldwide, Tonello is considered the reference point for the garment finishing industry. tonello.com / IG @tonellosrl / tonello@tonello.com


R.I.P. FASHION TRENDS Designing denim? Think demographics, not fashion trends. ANGELA VELASQUEZ


enim is timeless. However, the segment isn’t excused from the same shifts in consumer preferences, spending, weather and sales calendar that are affecting the fashion and retail industries. “Today, we have key players in the business that take nine weeks from idea to market. Meanwhile, other people need 52 weeks. We have multiple lifespans of trends that are crisscrossing and shattering our traditional trend and fashion business,” said Monsieur-T Founder and Creative Director Tilmann Wröbel. “There’s a lot of exciting things, but nothing super-exciting.” Monsieur-T, an international studio for denim design, curated an installation at the September edition of Bluezone in Munich called Demographics. Rather than examine seasonal trends, the studio broke down the key fabrics, shapes and styling that resonate with eight consumer profiles—or demographics— based on lifestyle preferences. “When we focus on trends we lose direction,” Wröbel added. “We should focus on the people who are consuming.” Here’s a look at the eight demographics Wröbel says is driving the global denim market.


2 VICE: The resident party animal, this consumer favors cheesy-meets-cool denim with design elements pulled from skate culture. Black denim with marble-like effects and acid washes are mixed with frumpy baggy shorts and tight minis. Novelty studs, jewelry-like trims and bratty patches add a ’80s kid vibe.

3 Wanderlust: Green, brown and khaki dyes, canvas and 100 percent cotton denim encapsulates this consumer’s nomadic lifestyle. Inspired by nature, travel and countryliving, this demographic seeks cozy, vintage-looking pieces with nods to the past, like pearl and lace trim for women and durable cords for men.



Beautiful People:


This celebrityobsessed consumer wants to be noticed. Body-conscious, sexy silhouettes made with high-stretch fabrications are the canvas for bright blue washes and dramatic bleaching. Don’t forget the heavy destruction, side seam lacing, sequins, fringe and excessive hardware.


Sports Illustrated: This tribe turns to denim that enables them to celebrate their own personal performance. High-tech blends, bistretch and knit indigo are the base for items like pop-over hoodies, zipper jackets and jeans constructed with pockets for protective gear. Black denim rules this category, accented with rubberized trims, honeycomb patterns and reflective tape.


4 THE MANAGERS: Casual Fridays are an opportunity for this professional group to let their denim freak flag fly—but in a smart and tailored way, of course. Comfortable, easy care denim in dark washes and clean optics do well here. Hints of Tencel sheen, velvety hand feels along with gold and navy hardware add a luxury feeling.

This group desires products that are natural to the bone. Organic cotton, liquid indigo and recycled fibers are major selling points to this consumer, which favors classic cuts and colors. Bonus points if the sustainable component (like recycled coffee beans) provides benefits like UV protection.

Experimental fits and conceptual pattern-making resonate with this trendsetting consumer. This demographic wants jacquard denim, pajama-like fluidity and wide silhouettes with a dash of paint splatter, high contrasts and shiny hardware.

8 HERITAGE POST: Perhaps the most indigo-obsessed, this consumer group knows denim. Authentic workwear, selvedge denim and tailored silhouettes made with wool and silk blends are a mainstay. Chain stitching adds a pop of color and personality, while trims are done up in silver, tortoise shell and natural leather hides.


AMERICA’S COTTON PRODUCERS AND IMPORTERS. Service Marks/Trademarks of Cotton Incorporated. © 2015 Cotton Incorporated. Source: The Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey (www.CottonLifestyleMonitor.com), 2013.

Speak with consumers and you’ll discover that they want cotton in their clothes and home goods. More than 80% have stated that they prefer jeans, towels and sheets made of cotton. 66% are bothered that retailers and brands would substitute man-made fibers for cotton. They love cotton so much that over half of consumers say they’re willing to pay more to ensure their T-shirts and denim jeans stay cotton rich. Cotton is clearly on your consumers’ minds. Shouldn’t it be on your label?


Profile for Hertzman Media Group

Rivet: November 2017  

The "Made in USA" Issue

Rivet: November 2017  

The "Made in USA" Issue

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