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The Ladies of Denim S/S 18 Trend Forecast
Pakistan : Truth or Myth
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
FACTS & FIGURES 10 / From the Denim Head As 2016 winds down, Jason Denham, François Girbaud, Adriano Goldschmied, Donwan Harrell and Scott Morrison reflect on the industry’s highs and lows. 12 / U.S. Denim Imports China continues to be a dominate player, but Bangladesh is gaining share. 16 / Trading Up Trade shows are relying on inspiring locations, educational opportunities and hands-on activities to entice attendees. 18 / More Denim, Less Water Companies throughout the supply chain are making strides in water conservation. BRANDED 20 / New Blood Four start-up companies are working to maintain denim’s heritage while elevating the industry’s standards. FEATURES 24 / Pakistan Mills, In Their Own Words Four of Pakistan’s biggest denim mills separate fact from fiction. 28 / The Ladies of Denim From fabric development to technology, meet the global network of women running the denim world. STYLING 40 / Kingpins x Denim Dudes S/S ’18 Denim Trend Forecast A preview of the leading fabrics, silhouettes and themes for next season. 46 / What They Wore: Munich Fabric Start Embellished denim sparkled at the textile trade show. FROM THE INDUSTRY 48 / The Case of Cotton What does the unpredictable price of raw cotton mean for denim?
Publisher Edward Hertzman firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Director Angela Velasquez email@example.com Assistant Editors Matt Vitone Christian Scibetta Emily Goldman Contributor Judith Russell Designer Celena Tang Photographer Richard Cordero Contributing Photographer Alexis Carey Associate Publisher Joel Fertel Director of Business Development Eric Hertzman Hertzman Media Group 545 8th Ave. Suite 530 NY, NY 10018 646.687.3065 | www.rivetandjeans.com
50 / Sustainability—From Green to Blue Jeanologia CEO Enrique Silla on creating a blue economy. LAST CALL 54 / Cheeky Ladies The new photo book spotlights ladies in denim. This page: Cone denim jacket and jeans, Calvin Klein bra. Cover: Vintage coat from Southpaw NYC. Photographed by Richard Cordero | www.richardcodero.com Special thanks to Lenzing’s Carved in Blue.
is a timeless
FACTS & FIGURES
FROM the Denim Head Denim icons dish on the year in denim. By Angela Velasquez
Donwan Harrell, Prps founder What do you hope to see more of from the denim industry in 2017? I would love to see overalls and coveralls make more of an impression in the marketplace. They were such an essential part of American culture in the 40’s. What do you hope to see less of from the denim industry in 2017? Denim is extremely versatile and it varies from region to region; from country to country; from continent to continent. In Japan, you rarely see skinny fits, denim is now looser and with wide leg fits. In the U.S., some men are wearing women’s skinny jeans, favoring tighter, stretchy jeans, which offer mobility. Aggressive washes and treatments are prominent as well in America. Europe is showing their preference toward cleaner denim. Denim styles are constantly evolving around the world and every region has their preference. I never want to see less denim; I am pleased to see it has become a global staple. What is next year’s buzzword in denim? I see bigger fits creeping into the marketplace. This will happen over several seasons.
Jason Denham, Founder of Denham the Jeanmaker What do you hope to see more of from the denim industry in 2017? Investment in quality and sustainable products. What are you working on for 2017? We are going to launch a new short film telling the story of our brand, titled “The Truth Is in the Details.” This encapsulates the story and the essence of our brand. RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 10
I think as an industry we’re very focused on servicing our businesses, but it comes at a cost. There’s less focus, less innovation, less “vision” and commitment to a unique point of view. In the past four to five years it seems like we’re all a little guilty of chasing every dollar, euro and pound wherever it takes us. It’s hard to know what brands really stand for because we change direction with such frequency and we try to offer a little bit of everything to everyone. I hope we see more focus, more direction and commitment to being Adriano Goldschmied, A-cynetic founder What was the most memorable denim collection unique in the coming years. I think it’s important for our industry, and it’s important for maintaining from 2016? Neuw from Australia. I love how the brand mixes relevance in the larger context of fashion. denim culture with modernity and innovation. What is next year’s buzzword in denim? Knit denim, because it’s different from any other product and is the best answer to the demand for comfort. What are you working on for 2017? First, my new line A-cynetic, which is a totally new point of view in the denim world. I am also working on a lot of innovations in fabrics and finishing. In addition, my dream is to make a “collaboration” company where I make my expertise in design and product development available to young designers.
Scott Morrison, 3x1 founder What is next year’s buzzword in denim? I’m not sure I have a buzzword, but I am pretty convinced that fashion/novelty denim will be king next year. Candidly, I can’t imagine making a basic jean today—no one wants it, at least at our price point. Customers have too much of the same stuff in their closet/wardrobe. Newness is king. Invent, reinvent, innovate, or die. What are you currently working on for 2017? I’m really excited about our Spring ’17 collection. I think it’s the best work we’ve done since launching in 2011, and as always, we’ve got a few irons in the fire when it comes to new ideas and initiatives. I can’t discuss details yet, but I’m also hopeful that 2017 will debut both a significant collaboration and the opening of our second retail location in the U.S. What do you hope to see less of from the denim industry in 2017?
Francois Girbaud, designer and illustrator What was the most memorable denim collection from 2016? Hemotion. [François Girbaud’s collaboration with Jeanologia, which resulted in unique laser and fringe treatments to the hems of jeans.] What do you hope to see more of from the denim industry in 2017? Real change. A more comprehensive use of ecologically-sound treatments and respect for nature and mankind.
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FACTS & FIGURES
U.S. DENIM IMPORTS China remains the top country of origin, but Bangladesh and Vietnam gain share. By Judith Russell
The decline in U.S. denim imports that was precipitous in 2014, but tempered in 2015, has intensified again in the first seven months of 2016, according to the most recent data from the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA). Total YTD imports in the category were $1.97 billion, down 4.4% from the same period in 2015. Unit imports of denim dropped by 4.1%, with the average cost per garment edging down slightly to $7.77 per pair. Although China held its share of total denim imports, Mexico lost 200 basis points of share, while Bangladesh and Vietnam gained 150 and 80 basis points, respectively. Pakistan and Nicaragua also gained share, while Egypt lost. More than 98 percent of total denim apparel imports are jeans. Men’s and boys’ represent the largest segment, at 52 percent of the total on a dollar basis, down 100 basis points from the prior year, while women’s and girls’ rose to more than 46 percent of the total. Denim jackets, skirts, dresses and other garments represent less than 2 percent of the total. Both men’s and women’s jean imports declined in the period. Men’s and boy’s jeans suffered a more than 6 percent drop, with units and average price down by about 3 percent each. Imports of women’s and girls’ jeans dropped by 3.5%, primarily due to a slip in units. The average cost of a pair of women’s and girls’ imported jeans increased by 3 percent. u
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U.S. DENIM APPAREL IMPORTS FY 2012 to 2015 YTD 2015 And 2016 $MM
Denim apparel imports by category YTD July 2016 (Millions of dollars, thousands of units, $ per unit)
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FACTS & FIGURES
China has maintained its 26.5% share of U.S. denim imports; a year-to-date total of $522 million, down 4.4% from last year. Unit imports from China dropped by 8 percent, but the average cost per garment rose by 4 percent. The 7 percent increase in men’s jean imports from China was more than offset by a 9 percent drop in women’s jeans imports. U.S. brands imported $470 million worth of jeanswear from Mexico between January and July, or 11.7% less than in 2015. Total units from Mexico fell by 6.4%, with the average cost per pair down by almost 6 percent to $8.13. Men’s jeans comprised almost 90 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 8 percent, with units up 11.7% and average cost down by more than 3 percent, with women’s seeing most of the gains. Bangladesh is a major supplier of jeanswear to many of the fast fashion retailers. Vietnam experienced the biggest increase, whose denim exports to the U.S. rose by 16.1% so far this year, to $78.7 billion. Women’s jean imports from Vietnam rose by almost 17 percent, to $86.6 million.
denim Apparel Imports by Country ytd july 2016 dollar volume
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Denim apparel imports by Country of orgin YTD July 2016 (Millions of dollars, thousands of units, $ per unit)
u.s. denim Apparel Import share shifts by Country ytd july 2016 vs. 2015
FACTS & FIGURES
As the number of trade shows increase and the distance between them widens, show producers are relying on inspiring locations, educational opportunities and hands-on activities to entice attendees. By Emily Goldman Communication apps like Skype and WhatsApp have made it easier than ever for the denim industry to do business without ever having to cross borders. But smartphones cannot replicate the sensory overload that is experienced by attending a denim trade show. Fabric remains king, but shows are now digging deeper into the supply chain with new focuses on technology, sustainability, trends and collaboration. From interactive activities to panel discussions, trade shows are becoming a place to be schooled in the need-to-knows for the season ahead. Sometimes, the city a show is held in can offer as much inspiration as the show itself. From a bustling Manhattan nabe to Miami’s up-and-coming art scene, a city’s flavor and style can offer a peek into consumers’ mindset and tap into a designer’s own creativity. “Location adds so much to a show and it starts on a macro level: What does the city offer? What can attendees and exhibitors experience while they’re in town for our show,” said Erin Barajas, Kingpins director of communication and special projects. “Travel budgets for buyers are tight and brands need to be able to pack as much value into each trip as possible. So, from that perspective, we select cities that make sense as denim cities and as design and inspiration destinations.” There’s no doubt that the industry is being pressed for time and money, but a passport to any one of these denim cities—New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Miami or Munich—can offer a well-rounded and global perspective of the denim industry. The Globetrotter: Kingpins With an invitation-only guest list, a warm family vibe, seminars and a newly-minted trend presentation, Andrew Olah’s dynasty of Kingpins shows offer the industry a curated selection of the denim industry’s top-notch vendors. This fall, Kingpins will host shows in Amsterdam (Oct. 26-27), New York (Nov. 2-3) and will launch its first show in Miami in 2017 (Jan. 11-12). The Miami show will feature mills from Italy, Turkey, China and Latin America, and buyers are expected to come from the U.S. and Latin America. “We are adding Miami because so many buyers from South America are coming to our Kingpins Amsterdam. We think we need to try to support the Latin American market by having an event once per year near them,” said Barajas. Due to the January timing of the show, it may also lure U.S. customers aching for a break from winter weather. “We like to be a little unexpected and running away to a warm beach in the middle of winter sounds like the kind of thing we’d do,” Barajas quipped. Kingpins hasn’t been shy about experimenting with locations. In addition to shows in its two pillar cities, Amsterdam and New York, it recently completed the Kingpins China Tour, which Barajas described as a “road trip” throughout mainland China with a handful of select exhibitors. The tour included mini one-day Kingpins shows in three cities over five days. The show has also introduced WHY by Kingpins, an Amsterdam-based trims and branding show held in conjunction with the main Kingpins event. A denim road trip in China and a new show located in a winter vacay hotspot may sound off-the-cuff, but every step Kingpins takes is carefully considered. For example, Barajas said the Kingpins China Tour is a stepping RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 16
stone toward a bigger plan. “The idea is that we want to eventually have a Kingpins China show, but to set ourselves up for success and to really be able to offer something relevant and effective to the Chinese market we must learn about the Chinese denim industry for ourselves. To do that we have to get in there and immerse ourselves and we have to slowly introduce the market to Kingpins and let them know what we’re about,” Barajas explained. Other times, instinct takes over. With WHY by Kingpins, Barajas said Olah saw a void in the market and said, “let’s see if this works.” And just like that, Kingpins added a new show that is offering attendees additional resources and information. “We do our best to go and visit each of the participants of our new WHY show to ensure the quality of the new suppliers joining our groups,” she said. WHY is coming back bigger in October. It is that quick, nimble and creative approach to show production that keeps Kingpins at the top of buyers’ minds. “We’ve been an analog, DIY show since day one. When we first started, we did everything ourselves. We folded the invitations by hand, we introduced our guests personally to our exhibitors. It was all about connection and hospitality—and it has been one of the hallmarks that sets us apart from other shows,” Barajas said. Despite the attention on location and its roster of high caliber mills— Candiani, Berto and Artistic Denim to name a few—the show puts an emphasis on trends this show season. The show partnered with Denim Dudes author Amy Leverton to produce Kingpins Trends, a two-prong denim trend presentation that focuses on fabric, fit and finish. A corresponding installation co-produced by Wink, an Amsterdam-based “experience architects,” will present garments created by exhibitors based on the trends in Leverton’s forecast.
“More than ever before, designers will receive information that helps them connect the dots between the upcoming trends and the resources available to them on the Kingpins show floor. And our exhibitors, which rank among the best in the world, will be able to showcase their product, creativity and relevance in a space that is beautiful, neutral and inspirational,” Barajas said. The Trendsetter: Denim Premiere Vision Denim Première Vision is revisiting its Parisian roots. The Nov. 2-3 event (held during the same time as Kingpins New York) will mark the show’s return to Paris after spending five editions in Barcelona. The move is part of a bigger plan to reset the show. Denim Première Vision has encouraged exhibitors to tone down their booths with limited personalized structures and decorations in order to refocus attention on product. “The image that we want to illustrate [is] how the industry can move to the final consumer and understand their needs,” said Chantal Malingrey, Première Vision director. The show’s producers are also creating more reasons to spend more time at the show. Malingrey said a small flea market will give attendees the opportunity to shop denim pieces from a hand-picked assortment. Malingrey mentioned that the team is also considering adding a small library with books that are both useful and inspiring for denim professionals and connoisseurs. But while the look and location may be new, Denim Première Vision aims to maintain its place as a hub for knowledge from denim community experts.
Denim Premiere Vision
“At Denim Première Vision we have the chance to gather the crème de la crème of the industry. And when you see all of those people, they are very happy to see each other,” said Malingrey. “They are all very professional in this easy-going atmosphere. This aspect is unique and it’s always a big pleasure to meet them twice a year, at least.” The Innovator: Munich Fabric Start For 20 years, Munich Fabric Start has had a pulse on the wants and needs of customers in Northern Europe and Germany. As a result, exhibitors offer tailored assortments for the show’s clientele. Held at the Munich Order Center (MOC), Munich Fabric Start serves as a European staple for guests seeking a myriad of fabrics, trims and new technologies. Its timing is separate from the rest of the denim shows—the next show takes place Jan. 31-Feb. 1 2017—however, it has excelled at creating intrigue with its focus on innovation. Munich Fabric Start takes a hands-on approach to how it updates the
industry on the latest news and technology. At Keyhouse, Munich Fabric Start’s pavilion centered on developments in sustainable technology, guests have access to workshops, seminars and speakers from all points in the supply chain. “We have put the latest fabric and technologies from various suppliers in a spotlight to present the latest developments and functionalities of the industry at Keyhouse,” said Panos Sofianos, Munich Fabric Start’s Bluezone and new business exhibition manager. The last edition, held from Aug. 31-Sept. 1, featured forward-thinking companies like denim subscription company Mud Jeans, self-cleaning denim innovator Odo, as well as new collaborations between Lenzing, Tonello, Archroma and more. As technology becomes a greater influence in fashion, Sofianos said
the need for social and interactive experiences at trade shows will become greater. The show is relying on B2B media and influential bloggers in the denim community to help open the communication lines. Sofianos also said the show encourages these outlets to spotlight innovations and continue the conversation online. “Social media is gaining more and more importance for our industry although suppliers seem not yet to be aware of the power of these channels in B2B. Nevertheless, more and more suppliers join and start to interact,” he added. Bluezone, a more traditional denim trade fair setup, stands independently from the rest of the show and boasts approximately 100 international suppliers, bringing together a global network of denimheads. Past exhibitors include Berto, Candiani, Calik and Cone Denim. A curated trend presentation spanning from fabric to trims stands at the heart of Bluezone. Every season, the show’s creative directors and a team of trend experts come together to stage seasonal trend stories. In the trend and sample areas, the most innovative fabrics and trims as well as colors for the season are highlighted. “This enables attendees the experience of a world of colors and innovative products,” Sofianos said. The Wild Card: BPD Expo 4.0 The founder of BPD Expo, Bill Curtin, pegs the almost two-year-old show as the anti-trade show of the trade show world. From a small New York City art gallery in the Meatpacking District to taking over one of Manhattan’s largest vacant retail spaces (on Fifth Avenue, nonetheless) last June, BPD Expo has more than doubled in size since launching in 2015. The show featured 33 exhibitors last year, and will narrow it down to 30 for the Dec. 7-8 event set to take place in SoHo. “We’re going to curate it to be a little bit smaller. We reached [the] point to figure out the perfect level of vendors… and sourcing people,” Curtin said. “We’re going to scale back a little bit, keep the show to under 30 vendors, so we can stand by what we started, keeping the show manageable, entertaining.” Something unique to the BPD Expo, is the assortment of denim-related classes. From indigo dye techniques to shibori, the ability to learn more about the industry and techniques are seemingly unending. Attendees have the option and ability to receive the help of experts on the spot. Curtin discussed the success of last year’s show, and the number of attendants drawn in by the flea market, as well as jeans being customized and designed. “People can do hand sanding there themselves. One of the things we say to the vendors is don’t just bring in your headers of fabric, bring in the top three things you want to promote. Bring in rolls of fabric, we make your leg tubes right there,” Curtin said. Staying with that pioneering spirit, BPD Expo 4.0 will keep attendees on their toes and introduce some new aspects to the show. BPD plans to roll out a new networking space, allowing the denim community the opportunity to meet and catch up with denim experts on hand to help attendees look for new business and career opportunities. RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 17
FACTS & FIGURES
More Denim Less Water Companies throughout the supply chain are making strides toward water conservation in cost effective and creative ways. By Emily Goldman
From irrigation to washing, a typical pair of blue jeans uses 919 gallons of water during its life cycle, according to Levi Strauss & Company. Companies like Jeanologia, Archroma and Tonello are making moves to save water during denim production, and while doing so, are proving that these new measures do not need to stunt designers’ creativity. Archroma is doing its part to save water during the dyeing process through its indigo-free Advanced Denim concept. The concept, which was introduced in 2009, requires approximately 92 percent less water than the average dyeing process and offers a wider spectrum of blue shades. The process also cuts down cotton waste by 87 percent and saves 30 percent in energy. By going indigo-free and eliminating hydrosulfite in the dyeing process, denim manufacturers have a more versatile choice of solid or ring denim and a wider range of blues, navies, blacks and grays. Advanced Denim enables manufacturers to create new effects by using sustainable techniques at either the dyeing or wash-down stages. Instead of using chlorine and permanganates, the process allows the use of ecofriendly peroxide-based wash-downs. “In general terms, Advanced Denim articles can be treated in the same way as conventional denim. The type of effect will depend on the specific treatment,” said Miguel Sanchez, Archroma head of global business and development. Innovation hubs like Spanish technology company Jeanologia are working to ensure that a reduction in water doesn’t result in an increase in energy. Jeanologia’s G2 system allows significant water and energy usage reduction, and eliminates the need for toxic processes like bleaching and permanganate usage. The washer takes air into the G2 generator, converts the air into ozone gas that is moved inside the tumbler. The gas washes the garment, breaks down the anchor of the fiber dyeing and is then transformed back into air and then released, making the jeans essentially washed by the atmosphere. “This process does not require any additional chemicals or water,” said Jeanologia Project Manager Begoña Garcia. “Electric consumption of the full equipment, including air feeding system, ozone destruction, ozone generation and drum rotation are equal to the consumption of the energy needed to move a washing machine.” Sustainable doesn’t have to be an added expense. Garment finishing technology company Tonello believes that using less water should actually RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 18
minimize overall production costs. The company remains a trailblazer in the denim industry through their water conservation methods and machines, and proudly calls Levi’s one of the brands they work with on water conservation.
For consumers, it means buying a garment produced consciously, thinking about the planet and their health.
With their latest innovation, Up, Tonello has been able to radically reduce the amount of water required and bring the liquor ratio down to new levels. A continuous, regular flow of water is injected into the machine, then recovered and recirculated. As a result, the process requires less energy consumption, while faster water filling and draining results in lower costs. The Up program can be applied with other Tonello technologies like NoStone, which uses a stainless steel abrasive drum fastened to the washing machine instead of pumice stone, and Ecofree, which dissolves ozone into water to clean it from indigo during the enzyme wash, reducing both the number of baths and processing time. “This process has a very short return on investment and is very flexible, as it can be combined with other technologies. Brands can install our technologies [older model] Tonello machines, giving them a new life and making each investment worth it,” said Alberto Lucchin, Tonello marketing executive. “For consumers, it means buying a garment produced consciously, thinking about the planet and their health.”
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new blood A new class of denim brands are offering inventive ways to make and sell jeans. By Christian Scibetta
With consumers turning away from traditional retail for e-commerce, and the inefficacies of denim production reaching a tipping point, the industry is in need for new blood. These four start-up denim companies are performing a balancing act between denim’s old world heritage and the new world of e-commerce, sustainability and crowdsourcing. RPM West Can an American-made, Japanese selvedge denim jean be sold at a reasonable price? That was the question that led Manuel Rappard to launch RPM West on Kickstarer in 2013. When Rappard turned to the Kickstarter community for funding and feedback, it was during a time when there was a wave of interest in raw denim and consumers were beginning to look for new luxury goods made outside of sweatshops. However, the costs for these products excluded a majority of consumers. RPM West received over $100,000 during its first Kickstarter campaign, which led to the launch of its U.S.-made, Japanese selvedge denim for $135$169. The direct-to-consumer brand has since followed up with seven more Kickstarter campaigns for new product lines, including a hoodie touted as “the most durable hoodie on the planet” and chinos that are under warrantee for 25 years. Kickstarter is like the Tinder for young companies. It builds moral and self assurance. “The beauty of Kickstarter is that it allows you to have an instant boost and immediate confidence,” Rappard said. RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 20
The crowdsourcing platform has been a way for the company to test items and gauge consumer interest before investing an exuberant amount of money and time. “[Kickstarter] is a part of the model that is driving online businesses. It’s much more than, ‘Hey this is an idea we have, what do you think?’ It is market testing that validates your [concepts],” he said. RPM West continues to look for new ways to reach new audiences. One of those ways is a partial rebranding and an effort to be more transparent and intimate with customers. The company is doing this through sharing images of the RPM team on its website and social media. “We’re on the journey and storytelling phase,” Rappard said. “One thing we can do is leverage our existing customer base and get them more excited. We want to be great at customer service, so they will share with friends and tell them about it.” Mud Jeans Having worked in the denim industry for over a decade, Mud Jeans co-owner and former head of product development for G-Star Raw, Dion Vijgeboom, believes the practices of apparel and denim companies will inevitably change to be more sustainable. “Only a few companies are denying it at this point,” he said. Mud Jeans, founded by Vijgeboom’s partner Bert van Son in 2012, is tackling a number of sustainable issues, from emptying landfills to reusing fibers, with its unique leasing and recycling concept. u
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BRANDED The process is simple: Instead of selling jeans upfront, The Netherlandsbased company allows consumers to lease jeans for €7.50 (approximately $8.44) a month for one year. Consumers select a pair of jeans from one of Mud Jeans’ European retail partners or from its online store. After 12 months of wearing the jean, the customer can either choose to keep the pair or trade them in for a new one. “This is their first time a circular economy system has been used in apparel,” Vijgeboom said. Mud Jeans recycles worn out returned jeans into new products. Jeans are designed with printed labels, as opposed to leather, which makes them easier to be reused. Zippers and rivets are removed, and jeans are cut into strips that can be torn apart and ultimately be blended with virgin cotton. The brand’s recycled collection offers jeans made with approximately 25 percent recycled cotton fibers and 75 percent virgin cotton. The denim looks like new denim. The only real irregularity that customers might notice are small dots in the lighter washes, Vijgeboom said. The brand’s returned jeans are upcycled and sold as unique vintage pairs. Each upcycled jean is named after its former wearer. Targeting the “conscientious explorer,” someone 20-45-years old who wants to make an ethical choice in buying denim, requires transparency as well as the right fits and washes. For women, high-waisted skinny is currently Mud Jeans’ most popular fit, while cropped fits are popular among “the more fashionable,” Vijgeboom said. For men, the straight fits, offered in four washes remain popular. With the help of Vijgeboom’s denim experience, Mud Jeans has been able to work with likeminded sustainable manufacturers while also getting the fashion right. Its mills are BCI and GOTS certified. In an effort to be transparent, Mud Jeans lists its factory partners online, including Royo, Orta Anadolu, Yousstex International and more. Looking forward, Mud Jeans is working toward using more recycled fibers in its jeans. The brand is banking on progress in chemical recycling, the process of using different enzymes and compounds to break apart recycled denim, to grow its recycled product.
Scale Denim Like many Kickstarter brands, Scale Denim Founder Kabir Seth wants to reimagine the way jeans are bought and sold. Standing at 5 feet 5 inches, Seth also wants to change premium denim’s standard 34-inch inseam. Premium denim’s one-size fits all inseam has historically been flawed. The inseam allows the tallest customers to wear the jeans off-the-rack, while the majority of men need to hem their jeans. “The average price of a premium jean is $250. You’re spending all this money for jeans and then you have to spend $30-$50 to get them altered,” Seth said. A common issue with hemming, he pointed out, is that premium jeans are not always cut in a straight 501 style, and reducing the length alters the bottom’s shape and fit. “The leg opening becomes much wider and the taper RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 22
that you should have is totally off,” he said. Through Scale Denim, Seth, along with partners Nihar Singhal and Malcolm Brown, are addressing the size issue by offering men premium jeans with seven different inseams, from 28-34 inches. The jeans, made with Cone denim and manufactured in Los Angeles, retail for $150. The brand currently offers slim and straight fits in dark wash and black. The company debuted on Kickstarter in August 2016 and raised more than $53,000 from 368 backers. The direct-to-consumer label began its first wave of production in mid to late October. Seth said the feedback on Scale Denim has been excitement and surprise. “Our initial prototypes got strong feedback and most of our changes to the jean have been small tweaks, which we think is a great sign,” he said. The direct-to-consumer model helps keep costs low, but Seth said one of the drawbacks is that customers cannot try on the different inseams. To help cut down on returns, the brand features two videos on its website on how to measure inseam. Moving forward, Seth wants the brand to continue to grow organically through smart partnerships. “We want to stay direct-to-consumer at the moment and see what the next year brings,” he said. “We will definitely explore new product whether in the form of color, fit or fabric. But, right now we want to focus on getting the word out about [Scale Denim], as we think we are bringing something truly different to the premium market.” Shockoe Anthony Lupesco launched Shockoe in 2012 with the idea of creating a denim label in the mode of Italian tailoring in the unlikely fashion spot of Richmond, Va. While many new brands vie for attention and sales online, Lupesco has taken a more local and artisan approach to selling quality denim with his storefront/factory. Growing up, Lupesco came to understand the quality of meticulously made apparel from his father, who worked for Italian menswear legends like Kiton and Isaia. After finishing school, Lupesco told his father his plan to enter the denim industry. His father asked, “Why don’t you make real clothing?” It’s a story Lupesco tells with good humor, as Shockoe has already begun to cultivate a loyal fan base that appreciate the hand crafted details of his denim. “I wanted to create items that people fall in love with, and then after wearing them for a week or two they realize there are little details they didn’t notice at first,” Lupesco said. The small details serve a purpose, like the leather backing that Shockoe puts in all of their hardware. Lupesco said this detail helps keep the rivets from ripping out of its super lightweight summer denim. “But it’s also one more part of the jean that changes as you wear it,” he added. The collection, which now spans raw 12.5 oz. selvedge denim from Candiani to indigo-dyed vests made with Kuroki’s quilted fabric, is made at the Shockoe Atelier in Richmond. While other denim manufactures might take 20 minutes on average to create a pair of jeans, Lupesco said the team at Shockoe will spend over two hours hand stitching each pair. Lupesco is modest about his company. Jeans retail for $95 for a standard deadstock dungaree to $260 for raw 18 oz. selvedge denim. He won’t claim that his jeans are made with more detail and care than any other premium denim label, but he challenges those competitors to match his stitch count. In the last six months, Shockoe has begun to reach more customers through e-commerce. However, Lupesco has a sweet spot for wholesale, having worked in his parent’s boutique in Washington D.C. when he was in high school. “I think a lot of the reason people know our jeans is because they have discovered them at small boutiques,” he said. More than just jeans, Lupesco has begun to apply his artisan touch to other apparel categories, including denim blousons and field shirts. He’s working toward being “hyper seasonal,” releasing products more organically than twice a year, like his first capsule collection which launched in September. While Virginia isn’t known as a fashion capital, the Shockoe store and factory has found a lot of support in the local community. Some of Lupesco’s favorite moments come when Shockoe gets visitors from the more rural parts of the state. He said, “I once had this guy come into the store who said ‘I’ve never paid more than $20 for a pair of jeans; why would I spend $200 for yours?’ The customer continued to browse and came across the glass wall the storefront shares with the factory and after watching our tailors work on the denim he had a change of heart and bought his first pair of $200 jeans.”
pakistan mills, in their own words Reading the headlines, it can be easy to believe sourcing in Pakistan is difficult and dangerous. We asked some of the country's biggest mills to separate fact from fiction. By Matt Vitone
Artistic Denim Mills
Pakistan’s textile sector isn’t hurting for bad press at the moment. Tumbling exports amid ongoing electricity shortages have been a serious thorn in the side of the industry, largely responsible for the shuttering of some 100 small-to-medium sized factories in the country. In the last two years alone, more than 500,000 jobs have been lost as a result. Rising competition from Vietnam and neighboring Bangladesh haven’t helped sooth local concerns either, and the country enjoys a less-than-savory reputation abroad as dangerous and difficult to access. Despite this, Pakistan is home to a vibrant denim scene, where a mastery of fabrics and a high level of technological innovation is evident to all who come to see. This includes name brands like H&M, Zara and Gap, who still call on Pakistan mills to produce their garments. Rivet recently spoke with four prominent Pakistan-based mills to help us understand the real Pakistan.
RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 24
Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries Hasan Javed’s denim lineage goes back more than 60 years. As executive director of Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries (AFGI), located in Karachi, he spent his summers as a college student interning at his family’s textile business. From early on, he was drawn in by denim. “I completed my higher studies and had some time to travel and experiment in different fields, but eventually I knew I would move back and get involved in the family business,” he said. Today, AFGI is a fully vertical setup comprised of spinning, weaving, and garment production, which includes a state-of-the-art laundry. Two high tech fabric units produce 50 million meters of denim a year. Well regarded for its Shapeform fabrics and low growth denim, AFGI has continued to display its knack for innovation and style, including a collection designed by Roy Slaper, created to showcase the mill’s new fabric developments and garment-making capabilities. For the line, Slaper focused on authentic American fits and washes with details like back knee whiskers. “From top to bottom, our organization believes that innovation is the key to success in the denim industry,” said Javed. “The industry [in Pakistan] has invested heavily in the best machinery and technology to service buyers who are always
pushing the limits of what denim can be. Our company has adopted innovation across the board from spinning, dyeing, weaving, finishing and garment treatments.” This level of focus on product and a culture for innovation is a large part of what makes Pakistan such an exciting place for denim, even if problems outside of the industry’s control continue to present challenges. For many clothing brands and retailers, Javed said Pakistan is “still a frontier.” That’s rapidly changing as the country’s security situation has improved markedly in the last few years. In Karachi alone, army forces were able to cut bombing incidents from nearly 100 in 2013 to 19 in 2015, according to data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal. “Over the years there have been some negative stereotypes [of Pakistan], but I can safely say that the political and economic situation today is a lot better today than it was a few years back,” said Javed. “Huge strides have been taken in combatting the security situation, resolving the energy crisis, and getting the country back on track. With the latest security measures being taken by the government and the investments in industry and infrastructure, we are optimistic about better days in the near future.” Javed said his company, which still largely garners new clients the old fashioned way (through word of mouth) is fortunate for the trailblazing clients who have been sourcing in Pakistan for many years, paving the way for other buyers to follow in their footsteps. AFGI is also looking to be seen as a leader in sustainability, taking what Javed calls a “holistic” approach to responsible denim production. This year the company finished installation of its Global Recycle Standard (GRS) certified post-consumer waste tearing plant, which helps recycle old jeans into new completely in-house. “As developers and producers, we have to adapt and evolve. There is a famous quote, ‘even if you’re on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there.’ This is especially true for denim, and this is what keeps us motivated to try something different every day at AFGI,” said Javed. “More importantly, our team members are genuinely passionate about the products they produce and when people do what they love the results are always better.” u
STRETCH YOUR IMAGINATION www.admdenim.com
Diamond Denim by Sapphire “Vibrant is a great word, so let’s use that.” That’s Paul Ledgett, Diamond Denim North America president, when asked about Pakistan’s denim scene. “I think many people would be surprised at the quality of product which is available in Pakistan. The notion that Pakistan is only a value supplier is not correct. Pakistan’s manufacturers provide innovative product that sell to the best brands in USA and Europe,” he said. Located in Lahore, Sapphire began as a yarn manufacturer in the 1970’s, vertically integrating in the 1990’s and 2000’s with its vertical denim project, Diamond Denim, being its most recent investment. Sapphire reports their capacity at 20 million meters of fabric and growing, with a full range of fabrics from 4.5-14 oz., with stretch, lightweight and performance items as key focuses. At Sapphire’s Diamond Denim mill, Italian designer and industry veteran Maurizio Baldi is bringing his extensive experience in the premium market to help develop new fiber and design intelligence for Sapphire. This will be immediately noticeable in Diamond’s Spring ’18 collection. While Diamond Denim currently does most of its business in Europe, the mill is hoping to expand its presence and reputation in the U.S. market with its two denim categories: Heaven and Revival. Heaven includes several fabrics linked by their soft hand feel, bright colors and rich look. Revival revisits and updates 80’s fabrics, working with a modern weight and a touch of elasticity. Diamond is also rolling out a new category, Love Earth, which includes three new shades that combine sustainability and fashion through chemical and water management. According to Ledgett, one of the major benefits of sourcing in Pakistan is location. Not only is there a full domestic supply chain for denim production, but he also cited Pakistan’s relatively quick access to production zones in Bangladesh, India, China and North Africa. “Pakistan won’t be the right match for everyone, but more and more companies are recognizing that there is real value to be found in product, speed to market and cost using Pakistani companies as part of their supply chain,” he said. Pakistan will only become increasingly accessible, when the expected completion of a massive highway project will help improve connection between Lahore—where much of the textile industry’s capacity is located—and the port city of Karachi. The new infrastructure will help move cargo more quickly and safely than before. Leaders in Pakistani textile have also been working with members of the Chinese government to help` strengthen textile and apparel trade between the two countries. To that end, China is investing billions in the development of a newly expanded port in the city of Gwadar. Meanwhile, new power generation projects are underway to solve power shortages and reduce energy costs in the country. “I think American sourcing professionals have an understandable reticence travelling to Pakistan,” said Ledgett. “It’s a long flight and it is unnerving going to countries of which you are not familiar. We take care of our customers when they visit and they realize Pakistan is a legitimate sourcing destination.” RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 26
Soorty An industry leader from the beginning, Soorty opened house in the 1980’s, and has been running one of Pakistan’s most complex laundries for denim wet processing since the 90’s, having the distinction of being the first company to bring Tonello washers to Pakistan. Following a backwards integration in 2007 which established Soorty Denim, the company has only continued to grow. Best known for its depth and breadth of colors, Soorty has made articles with a range of materials including Dyneema with Dual FX, Crailar, Thermolite and Cool Max. The company also produces cotton Tencel and cotton Modal blends, as well as bi-stretches that manage high stretch with controlled growth. An international effort, Soorty operates a research and development center in Amsterdam, where customers can view the latest collections and where foreign designers and developers help forecast trends, which drive development in Karachi. Ahmar Zulfiqar, Soorty technical development manager, attributes Pakistan’s robust denim sector to the country’s wealth of experience in garment making, and by it being one of the largest producers of cotton in the world. From investments in new finishing lines to closing the loop through new recycling initiatives, Zulfiqar said there is always something new happening in Pakistan. “Everyone in the industry
is positive and is on a platform toward growth,” he said. Zulfiqar noted that while Pakistan faces its fair share of challenges, many of the preconceived notions about the country being unstable or unsafe are “highly exaggerated.” “It is true that the industry faces challenges such as a shortfall of energy and an increasing cost of doing business. But the most daunting challenge is the negative perception and image of the country which needs to be addressed—it’s not reflecting the true situation,” he said. “Manufacturing here is very feasible these days and our customers and foreign developers frequently visit. Pakistan produces 15-20 percent of the world’s denim fabric, if this country had issues that were so terrible, it wouldn’t be able to manage these numbers,” he added. Soorty also prides itself on taking care of its workforce, including day care facilities for mothers to leave their children while at work, and food assistance for those in need. Soorty also runs health checkups to check for blood-related diseases, while transport is provided to and from work at no cost. “Our dream is to inspire everyone to love their denim, and for denim to be completely sustainable,” said Zulfiqar. “We do this through research, innovation and sharp focus on our customer’s expectations, while ensuring a sustainable impact on our people and our Earth.”
Artistic Denim Mills Faisal Ahmed, CEO of Artistic Denim Mills, earned his denim pedigree studying operations at top U.S. mills including Cone, Avondale, Burlington and Swift. He would later use his experience to help build ADM into one of Pakistan’s most prominent mills. A key supplier to Zara, H&M, Next and Esprit, with a growing portfolio of U.S. brands, ADM is perhaps better than anyone else at bringing innovation to the denim market. The mill works closely with Invista, and played a central role in commercializing bi-stretch denim (XFIT) around the world. In a market where every mill now has some kind of Tencel and Modal blend in their collection, ADM was also responsible for introducing Lenzing Tencel and Modal fibers to denim. Now the brand is actively working on other fibers, including Coolmax and all-season Thermolite to help bring performance denim to the market. Ahmed said being vertical from start to finish is a vital advantage to sourcing in Pakistan, reducing lead times and allowing designers and product developers to work in tandem from inspiration to spinning to finished garment. “Denim is a conversation, not a commodity,” said Ahmed. “Every designer needs to see our collection and put his or her spin on it. That’s our forte.” While Pakistan has done a lot in the way of developing its infrastructure, Ahmed pointed out that the domestic industry has done a lot for worker’s rights too. The average salary of a worker in Pakistan is over $130 per month
in addition to social contributions—more than double the amount paid to workers in other countries. “Factories here are fully compliant in terms of environment and labor. There are no sweat shops in Pakistan,” Ahmed said. “This is a sharp contrast to other production bases like Bangladesh, where you can literally see sweatshops. Yet large brands and retailers turn a blind eye as they get stuff made at cheaper prices.” Like so many others, Ahmed thinks a large part of the Pakistan problem is one of bad reputation and negative press. Getting people to see the value in Pakistan is often times the biggest challenge of producing in the country. “The factories are state of the art and can be compared to any factory in Turkey and China,” said Ahmed. “Once the negative press fizzles out, major U.S. brands will appreciate the quality difference Pakistan can make. The Europeans already see and have offices here. The current depression on U.S. retail floors is due to cheap quality goods that are being imported, and customers don’t like it.” Still, after more than 25 years in the denim business, Ahmed said Pakistan has come a long way from the days when denim was so scarce it had to be imported from Hong Kong. He’s seen a similar transformation with his own business, which has grown from a family garment operation to producing 20 million yards of fabric a year. “The reason I continue to stay in this business is because after 25 years, it runs in the blood,” he said. “There’s excitement in every wash.”
LADIES of DENIM
FEATURE Alice Tonello Tonello marketing and R&D manager
and who has helped denim become all it is today. I admire the companies that focus on high quality without compromising, that are passionate in searching for new solutions, as if every day was their first day.
What’s your denim pedigree? When my uncle, Osvaldo Tonello, built the first washing machine in 1975 he would never have imagined that it would be the beginning of a long story. The RC 60-120 was born of a far-sighted and successful idea that came at the right time and in the right place. These are the years of the denim revolution. Shortly thereafter he passed the baton to my father who has continued this adventure. I remember my visits to the factory when I still didn’t know the difference between a nail and a bolt, the impossible working hours, the pizzas eaten between the washing machines, and the smell of iron. That’s how I got involved in the world of denim.
What are some important characteristics to have in order to succeed in denim? Passion, attitude, foresight and respect. What are you most proud of in your career? Working with my dad. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received while working in the denim industry? Here’s the best advice I received when I’d just started working at Tonello: “Put on your blue coveralls and a pair of gloves, go join the production workers and learn all that you can from them.”
Why have so many denim companies remained family-owned? I believe that denim is a world of passion, genius and creativity. It is easy to let yourself be attracted to it and be carried away. I believe that many Alice Tonello
The sharp, independent, stylish, intrepid, fearless, supportive and influential ladies of denim are proving that an entrepreneurial and creative mind should never be underestimated. By Angela Velasquez
companies have remained family-owned because denim needs a soul. What was your first denim job? I started working at Tonello 10 years ago, but really, when I was younger I used to spend my summers treating and scratching jeans with the first mannequins and the first scratch brushes. Do you consider denim to be a boys’ club? It’s true. It is a boys’ club, but by now we all know each other and as a woman I feel completely at ease. Do you think you bring a different perspective than your male colleagues? Maybe a different sensitivity or attention to detail. Sometimes being a woman has its advantages and relationships are different, but I’m just myself.
Tonello is making strides to make denim more sustainable, but it doesn’t happen overnight. How do you stay motivated? We believe the same thing today that we believed when our clients were telling us that saving water wasn’t all that important. Now, however, it’s an element that makes the difference. The market always needs a forerunner, someone who looks to the future and proposes cutting-edge solutions. With great humility, but also with great awareness, we think that that is our role, our mission. What’s on your to-do list for 2017? At the moment we are working in our research department, with a completely new creative area and a project that involves various designers and artists. All this helps us in creating and defining new technologies and solutions for the world of denim. Why do you believe in denim? It’s part of us. It is our history. Denim has changed our world and our way of living. And besides, without denim, maybe there would be no Tonello. Sarah Ahmed DL1961 creative director
What’s your denim pedigree? Indigo is in my blood. I grew up watching denim being made and I saw the techniques and processes evolve as quickly as the industry did. When I graduated from Parsons, I wanted to do something that combined my heritage with my love for design and fashion. So, I joined DL1961 and have been hard at work taking our What is your first denim memory? A photo of my mom taken when she was 16-years- company into the digital era with campaigns like old, while wearing a splendid pair of Roy Roger’s Smart Denim and Jessica Alba x DL1961. I also developed new denim labels like The Blue Shirt bell bottom jeans. Shop and Warp + Weft. Describe the perfect jean. Comfortable, unsurpassed fit, high-quality fabric Describe your current role in denim. I touch each and every one of the departments at treated without chemicals. DL1961, from planning our creative campaigns What is your favorite pair of jeans to wear? to consulting with our design team, checking in A pair of 3x1 that I received from Scott Morrison. on operations and evaluating our sales goals It feels like I’m not even wearing them. and deliverables. I also travel the world in search of what’s next in our industry, and keep close What is your favorite brand? relations with our international buyers and Timeless Levi’s. agencies. We’re a global family. It’s my job to weave everyone together so we design denim Who do you admire in the denim industry? I admire everyone who has made innovations, that’s pushing the envelope while remaining who has discovered new treatments, new fabrics steadfast in our reliability. u RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 29
Do you consider denim to be a boys’ club? Not in our world. It’s just never an issue. Our design teams are comprised of both men and women. Everyone has their own unique strengths. What is your first denim memory? Walking into a mill as a young girl. It was so amazing. The facility is huge and making denim is the most intricate, technologically advanced process ever.
Describe the perfect jean. What’s on your to-do list for 2017? A jean you can count on. The kind that fits like a Scaling the company. People love our jeans and glove each and every time you put them on. we want to expand that following while rolling out new brands like The Blue Shirt Shop. In 2017, Where do you find inspiration? you’ll see me continue to introduce our concept From New Yorkers and our style of everyday living. of #TheUniform, which is the everyday styling of I believe the way people live and move in the city denim with beautifully tailored shirts, inspired reflects today’s modern man and woman. (and named by) the coolest places in NYC. What are some important characteristics to have Mariette Hoitink in order to succeed in denim? Know the industry inside and out. Know who your HTNK founder, House of Denim and Denim City cocustomer is and how to win them with excellent founder and partner product, service and brand campaigns. Also, you What is your denim pedigree? are who you surround yourself with, so make I started my agency HTNK Fashion Recruitment sure you have an A-team to go with your A-game, and Consultancy 20 years ago around the same otherwise you’re dead in the water. time that many of the denim brands entered the market in Amsterdam, and I grew as a company What are you most proud of in your career? The year at Coterie [a New York-based apparel and as a person with these brands. I have a day trade show] when we had one of the largest job, I own my own company, but it’s holistic. If you booths there and our sales went through the roof. help people find jobs and they don’t have the right I stepped back and said to myself, “we made education, you start a school…I think it’s normal it.” That was a pretty incredible moment. I look that if you work with people and place them in a forward to what’s ahead, too. I know there are job, that you want them to have a good life. more amazing things to come. Do you consider denim to be a boys’ club? I see it as a male dominated industry, but it’s Why do you believe in denim? Because it’s who I am. It’s what I do. You know what changing rapidly. It’s been mostly men because else I believe in? We’re the only brand committed it’s a technical part of fashion, but a lot of women to ethically sourcing and manufacturing jeans in are joining that side. At the Jeans School, the a way that reduces our water footprint by half, second [class] includes 20 girls and one boy. and it’s amazing to stand behind that. We hope to I think it is a misunderstanding that women are not interested in the technical aspect of denim inspire others to follow suit. because up until a couple of years ago there was
no education for this area of denim. If a woman entered the industry, they became a designer or worked in development and never ended up in a mill or factory.
it. We have plans to bring Amsterdam Denim Days This may be a cliché answer but the person I to New York in September 2017. admire the most in this industry is my father [Adriano Goldschmied]. He is a true visionary and Marta Goldschmied a pure genius. I am lucky enough to get to do what Made Gold founder and designer I do because of creatives like him who weren’t afraid to break the rules and took denim to heights What’s your denim pedigree? that at the time no one thought possible. I did not always plan to work in denim, I actually tried to stay as far away as I could from it, but What challenges have you had to overcome while denim is in my blood. I became addicted after working in the denim industry? making my first pair of jeans. It was like a high I Owning a business comes with challenges every just couldn’t get enough. day—some big, some small. One thing I have learned is that no matter how small an issue What was your first denim job? My first denim related job is actually my current may seem if it doesn’t get fixed right away it will job as creative director at Made Gold. I didn’t have become a major problem further along the road. I proper training or much experience but I always have made many mistakes with production, sales knew I had a different vision than what was out and everything in between, but I believe that if you there and felt that not having proper experience learn a lesson from it than no mistake is ever that ended up being a plus for me because it allowed bad. me to have no rules. Do you think you bring a different perspective than your male colleagues? Do you consider denim to be a boys’ club? Denim is definitely a boys’ club, but like Marilyn I definitely think I bring a different perspective than Monroe said “I don’t mind living in a man’s world, my male counterparts and that’s where being a as long as I get to be a woman in it.” A lot of the woman plays in my favor. No man can understand men in the industry have been doing what they do the way a woman feels in her jeans. Denim is such for decades and when they started it was harder an intimate part of a woman’s wardrobe and being for women to get those type of opportunities. A a female designer I understand the struggles and lot of women that have helped build the denim nightmares that a girl feels when trying to find industry get discredited because they weren’t the perfect pair of jeans. My customers trust me the “face” of the brand. I’ve been lucky enough to because I’m one of them, I’m wearing the jeans meet so many incredible women in this industry, every day too. I feel insecure some days and may especially behind the scenes, that have helped need my jeans to make me feel more powerful. As a female designer I personally relate to all of that. and inspired me so much.
Who do you admire in the denim industry? Andrew Olah. We are so likeminded and that is amazing to me. He has been in the industry a lot longer and has a lot of experience, but we have the same perspective in that we can look at the industry and form an opinion based on the things we see and hear. He’s so open to change and he questions everything. If a company says they’re green, Andrew is going to ask them what that Describe your denim style. means. My denim look is sophisticated grunge, it’s a mix What is your first denim memory? of me growing up in Italy and then being thrown I had a denim communion dress. If you were born into the L.A. culture when I moved here at 12 years in the 1960s, you were raised in denim. old.
Describe the perfect jeans. What’s on your to-do list for 2017? Boyfriend jeans—that’s the best thing that has I am currently working on Made Gold’s A/W 17 happened to denim fashion. collection. We do things a bit differently and are really focused on our direct-to-consumer What are you most proud of in your career? When House of Denim was launched in 2009, a lot business. I am currently planning small drops of people had nice things to say but it was really throughout 2017, which will include some new fun brought to the next level the moment the city of pieces that aren’t denim but are staples to wear Amsterdam embraced the story. I was really proud with the perfect pair of jeans. I’m looking forward to becoming a full lifestyle collection so I am when the mayor said the city would help. excited to be looking for new brands and artists What is the best piece of advice you’ve received to collaborate with. while working in the denim industry? There’s no right or wrong. The intention of people Who do you admire in the denim industry? is good. We can’t change the industry over night, but people are so willing to work on it. What are some important characteristics to have in order to succeed in denim? You have to be a product freak. You have to be in love with indigo. You need to be a multitasker. The people who are working in the industry are really in love with what they do, they can’t change what they do the next day. It’s like a religion. What’s on your to-do list for 2017? First, for 2016 we still have the Global Denim Awards, which has grown from six mills to 11. It’s the first platform that connects denim innovation and sustainability with denim mills and designers. Then we have Amsterdam Denim Days in April 2017, which will be bigger and better. When we started the event three years ago, brands just didn’t understand that they needed to communicate directly to the consumer, but they’re finally getting
What is your first denim memory? One of my first denim memories is running through my dad’s archives in a small town in Italy where he founded Diesel. My sister and I would spend our days running in and out each row of vintage denim and play dress up until the lights of the office would turn off. I remember being surrounded by jeans and waiting for my sister to find me and just being incredibly inspired by all of the clothes and making up stories of where they came from and who owned them. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received while working in the denim industry? It was from my father and he told me me “If you want to be a winner you have to surround yourself with champions.” It always reminded me that I couldn’t do this alone and to build an incredible team of people that inspire me every day. What are some important characteristics to have in order to succeed in denim? I think some characteristics to have to succeed, not just in the denim industry but in life, are to be determined and always believe in yourself. You will hear so many ‘no’s’ and you will have so many doors slammed in your face. It’s really important to believe in your vision and never forget your goal. What are you most proud of in your career? The piece I designed that I’m the proudest of is the Betty side lace up jean. It’s the perfect mix of sexy, feminine and fearless.
Why do you believe in denim? It’s one of the pieces in your closet that really lives your life with you. Your denim grows with you, it becomes a personal piece, every tear and every stain begins to tell your story as time goes by. u RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 31
FEATURE Michelle Branch Owner of Markt & Twigs Inc.
Are more women entering the denim industry? Definitely, and they are bringing a youthful perspective. It’s exciting. Where most of us who’ve What’s your denim pedigree? been around for a while are so deeply rooted in My first denim job was in the late 80’s as a heritage, they look at denim through new eyes— production assistant for a company called Vintage more than history. Blue, which I don’t think is in business anymore. I’ve been a merchandiser for men’s bottoms at What challenges have you had to overcome while Levi Strauss & Co. In retail, I’ve been on the denim working in the denim industry? buying team at Express. At the mill level, I was Early in my career I encountered what for me creative director for Swift Denim and director of was the biggest challenge of all: condescension. denim design and marketing for Arvind Mills. And My second denim job was at Levi Strauss & Co., while I was in Europe, I was creative director at where diversity was valued almost as much as Jeanologia. Today, I have a creative consulting indigo itself. I learned tons there and already had company, Markt & Twigs Inc., giving creative help a solid knowledge base and a few strong women to Mexican mill Global Denim, Lenzing’s Carved In mentors in the market. So when I landed back Blue, Denim by PV and BPD Expo, among others. on Seventh Avenue, it was almost culture shock. I occasionally had to pull more than my weight What was your first denim-related job? for some (not all) of the big boys to recognize my While it wasn’t my first denim job, Levi Strauss & contribution. Being young, female and black in Co. was quite early on in my career. Over my sevendenim back then was the trifecta of hurdles. But, year tenure, Levi Strauss & Co. was my greatest you just power through. Luckily for me I’d already training ground. Back then merchandisers were been bitten by the “blue bug” and loved my work. the link between design, production and sales. We were responsible for what fabrics, fits, finishes, Who do you admire in the denim industry? trim, sizes and even units were released into the I admire all those who continue to seek new and market. When you touch that many parts of the innovative ways to keep our industry fresh. process, you really get to know how it’s done. What is your first denim memory? My most vivid memory is from middle school. The style at the time to customize your jeans long before it was a commercial thing. My friends and I would individualize our jeans with bleach (environmentally un-cool today), and have our friends sign their names, doodle or write thoughts on them with markers. When I think of those jeans now, it speaks to the individual nature of denim, how it accompanies us on our lives, and how it changes with us. Describe the perfect jean. Professionally, I’d say anything that changes the game like the skinny jean’s explosion, or more recently the Diesel jogger “inspiring” the industry to think about knits, and Faustine Steinmetz’s artisanal approach to fit. But personally, it changes all the time. Right now, my perfect jean is a little loose, straight, and has wear patterns that are uniquely mine.
What is your specialty? Over the years I’ve been involved in so many sectors of the market, it’s hard to narrow down a specialty. The unifying factor in all of my experience, and if I’m honest what I enjoy the most is the presentation aspect. Aside from creating the actual collections, I love creating the environment for showcasing them. It’s fun to find new ways to show the product. Do you consider denim to be a boys’ club? I think that may have been true in the past, but it doesn’t feel that way at all anymore. There are lots of women in the industry today doing great things. It was certainly true in the past, and there may still be some aspect to the male face of certain companies, but there is definitely a shift in the back rooms. There have always been women making things happen behind the scenes and now they are coming more into the light. RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 32
Which pair of jeans in your closet is currently getting the most wear? A pair of Naked & Famous raw stretch selvedge ones. I’m in the process of breaking them in. They’re men’s jeans, but they’ve been over-dyed pink. I love the irony of that.
When you shop for denim, what qualities do you look for? This is a pretty big question. I look for things that I’ve not seen before, of course. But I also keep an eye out for product evolution. Where are fits going? What’s the cast landscape looking like? Is color taking hold? Is pattern really catching on? What is your biggest pet-peeve about the industry? I’ve got a few, but what first comes to mind is a return to finishing in women’s denim, especially now when denim is popping up in unexpected places. For the last several years, with a few exceptions, it seems as if the women’s market has abandoned the third “F” in the formula. It’s fabric, fit and finish, folks. We’ve lost the attention to wash that is still prevalent in the men’s market. And there’s limited raw stretch product at retail for creating personal wear patterns. So, what’s a girl to do? What has been a memorable moment you’ve experienced through your denim endeavors? The dearest experiences are the ones when I really get a chance to see another way of life from the inside. One that immediately springs to mind is when a colleague invited me to join his family in a traditional celebration in Ahmedabad India. It was a big party with hundreds of people in beautiful colors doing a sort of circular version of the electric slide. It was beautiful and joyous and unforgettable. Moments like these not only inform your creativity, but they also help you understand the similarities we all share. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received while working in the denim industry? Trust your instincts and take that calculated chance because it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. What are some important characteristics to have in order to succeed in denim? Is it corny to say have a love for the product, be observant, and have a willingness to adapt? You have to be borderline obsessed with indigo and be able to recognize shifts and changes so you can remain ahead of them.
What are you most proud of in your career? I’ve had many opportunities to do cool stuff in my career, but hands down, the answer is the work I was able to do with Jeanologia in creating Truth & Light. It was a fun project, but more than that, it was also instrumental in bringing awareness to the dangers of sandblasting and presenting the Where do you turn for inspiration? Light technology as a viable option in a way the The simple answer is absolutely everywhere. Just industry could embrace. taking a walk can lead to finding the perfect color palette in some street art or finding the paper Why do you believe in denim? texture you’ve been searching for on a room Every career has ups and downs, but this industry service menu. If your eyes are open, the whole has given me far more ups. I truly love what I do, world offers sources for inspiration. even when it’s a pain in the ass. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I have a friend that always What is your favorite store for denim? says we have blue in our blood. He’s right. It’s This often changes for me from a retail perspective. something I think our industry uniquely has in Of course, I like shopping denim stores with great common: a real love affair with indigo. We know products, but I am also really drawn to shops with denim is the one fabric that by its very nature can inspiring interiors. Like in Japan, where the store chronicle our lives. It tells our story and lives it design gets as much attention as the products with us. Plus, we’ve got the coolest people on the they sell. On the brand front, right now, I’m loving planet. u a few for very different reasons: Thomas Maier and Tim Coppens for their dressier interpretations of denim and fashion, and Greg Lauren for a near perfect mix of heritage and fashion.
FEATURE Marianne McDonald Founder of McGuire Denim What’s your denim pedigree? My first job in denim was working for Joe Dahan at Joe’s Jeans. During that era it was all men at these brands. You had Joe Dahan and you had the people at Citizens of Humanity and 7 For All Mankind. We [women] just sort of cut our teeth in that premium denim heyday. And in the process there was a genuine love for it, and now, as we all come of age and have more experience behind us, I think that you definitely see a lot of women coming up in the denim field, where it used to be only men. It’s a really exciting to be part of this generation of women denim-makers out there. Have you seen a lot of women that you know that started at other brands branch out and begin new businesses? When I was at Joe’s, Paige Geller was our fit model there, and so I saw her stop being a fit model and start her own brand. And you see the Current/Elliott girls that started their own brand as well. It’s kind of us being business women of our time. There are so many opportunities that maybe the generation before us didn’t have. Now, all bets are off and it’s up to anybody who has an entrepreneurial spirit and somebody who has something artistic to say. In what ways do you think being a female designer may or may not influence your designs? The comfort and the desire for flattering denim are influences. If a jean’s not flattering, there’s really no point in buying it. You have to look sexy and feel good, it’s about how you feel in a jean. And while a man can sort of imagine how a woman would feel, it’s nice that we can throw the jeans on and go and take them for a test run. Do you consider denim to be a boys’ club? It definitely used to be, but I think now it’s not anymore. Our mills, our vendors and our laundries have worked with us women for so long when we were in our junior roles, and then they’ve sort of grown up with us as well. So it’s been an easy transition for the industry. Who do you admire in the denim industry? Joe Dahan, my old boss. He was a really great
teacher, he definitely had such a love of indigo and vintage. And before I worked with him, I had never had any denim experience. He definitely took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since entering the denim industry? With jeans you’re dealing with not only the style, RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 34
but also with chemistry. The variables are always there so whenever you find that perfect jean, now you know that it’s infinitely more valuable because of all the different processes it took to get it there, which are never the same because there’s somebody that’s hand-sewing it and somebody that’s hand-sanding it…I definitely appreciate jeans as their own unique pieces.
I was 13-years-old when I received my first pair of 501’s and wore them through high school. Everything was washed by hand back then and I would soak my jeans in the tub, rubbing the knee and the seat stains out with a big bar of soap. The jeans would take forever to dry, so I didn’t wash them too often. Come to think of it, I was on to something.
Describe your personal denim style. It would be like a glossy vintage. I’ve always loved the idea of vintage, and I’ve tried to bring that to life with McGuire, but the feminine flattering aspects of it are the fun parts to play with. Alvyda Kupinas, Kaltex America design director What’s your denim pedigree? I joined Kaltex 16 years ago. I was very curious of how things were made. I especially enjoyed spending weeks at a time on the manufacturing floor witnessing the birth of denim and then transforming it in the wash. Do you consider denim to be a boys’ club? I think it’s changing. My boss is an amazing woman with an unparalleled vision. I have a very talented female designer on my team. But yes, I did get my start at a “boys’ club.” What’s on your to-do list for 2017? I’m looking forward to the Kingpins show in New Alvyda Kupinas York and Miami, where we will present an amazing new collection. We are working on several What is your biggest pet-peeve about the new collaborations with fiber and machinery industry? companies. Wastefulness. We make a lot of fabric and Why do you think there is more men in this garment samples and just a fraction of them end up as a final product. Working a lot closer with the business than women? I think it’s true for the textile business in general. designers and getting inside the mind of the brand A lot of them started as a traditional patriarchic has helped to get the product [correct] right off the family owned manufacturing. Today it has bat and cut down on samples. become a full scope marketing business and a lot Describe the perfect jean. more women are making their mark. I’m still an authentic 501 girl. I like a bit of a higher What challenges have you had to overcome while waist, and just a touch of stretch and lighter weight in the summer months. I love to watch working in the denim industry? The speed of it. The innovation is moving forward the natural wear and rips occur. There is usually a so quickly. We are always chasing the next shiny good story associated with that. object. Denim manufacturing is by far slower than Do you have a favorite denim city? any of the new industries. I wish I could 3-D print I have several: Amsterdam, London, Berlin and a new pair of jeans, but at the same time I want to New York. I think each city has something to offer slow down and take [my] time creating something in terms of the look and concept you are in search amazing. of at that particular time. My aesthetic is more Do you think you bring a different perspective Scandinavian and Northern. than your male colleagues? Where do you find inspiration? I suppose it’s the yin and yang of denim. The more Most of the wash inspiration comes from vintage intuitive, feminine aspect of lifestyle trends has garments. For styling, I turn to social media, online changed the look and feel of denim: it’s more magazines, blogs and music events. Rocker girls wearable, softer and stretchy. I still remember and guys have great style. those discussions with clients on how to add stretch, but not tell the male consumer about it. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received while working in the denim industry? Look at what happened to that. Maybe 12 years ago, when I had to make a What is your first denim memory? presentation of our brand new collection to a I grew up “behind the iron curtain,” where garment client for the first time, I got very nervous. The choices were few and far between. Everyone director of manufacturing at the time told me, wore the same outfits, and in order to stand out, “Don’t worry, you already know more about this one had to make their own clothes. The fabric denim than anyone else in the room.” stores were not lacking in silks and wool, and my interest in textiles began there. Meanwhile, a pair What are some important characteristics to have of American jeans were the most coveted and in order to succeed in denim? unattainable item. They could only be acquired Curiosity and storytelling. u from the western ships docking at the seaport or from someone’s overseas immigrant relative.
FEATURE What are you most proud of in your career? Do you think you bring a different perspective I’m proud of my personal growth and I’m very than your male colleagues? proud of my team. I am better at what I do Overall, I can look at men’s denim objectively as it’s because of them. more about style with men. Women’s is all about fit, and this is my area. I understand fit issues—a Why do you believe in denim? man can never understand women’s fit issues. Denim is honest and it’s a great storyteller. Who do you admire in the denim industry? Christine Rucci The people I admire are Adriano Goldschmied, Owner and creative director of Godmother NYC who brought together some of the most important designers and created the Genius Group in Asolo, What’s your denim pedigree? Italy. François Girbaud, who taught me about After studying at FIT, I got my formal denim washing and was light years ahead of most design training working in Italy from Adriano brands of today, and Ralph Lauren, who taught me Goldschmied, Renzo Rosso, Claudio Buziol and the love of research, styling, and the purpose of later, François Girbaud, who taught me about design details from his vast vintage archives. And washing. For over 33 years, I have held many I admire their ability to still be on point to this day roles at denim companies, including Calvin Klein, with careers [that span] over 40 years. Donna Karan, AX Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, where I helped launch Tommy jeans, and Ralph Lauren, What is your first denim memory? where I designed the Double RL line. I’ve done it I went to Catholic school and wasn’t allowed to all, from fabric and wet processing, research and wear jeans. So one Christmas I got a Levi’s book development, production, technical design and fit bag, which I proudly carried to school where specialist to senior product and design director. denim was forbidden. I also consult for many designer brands, private What do you wish to see more of from the denim clients and celebrities, doing custom design industry? jeans, production and fit. Most recently I worked A move towards true sustainability. A reduction of with Keith Urban, Reese Witherspoon for Draper waste by mills and brands. We spend so much time James, Flag & Anthem, Mott & Bow and Marc and energy developing hundreds of fabrics and Jacobs. samples, which could be applied to sustainability What is your specialty? initiatives. Same goes for manufacturing. We I am not a typical “denim” designer in that I need to support smaller factories and redevelop specialize in all aspects of the product, from fabric, business. I am quite proud of the work I did to fit, finishing, factory, and fashion development of start the ‘Made in the South’ program for Draper denim having learned the business from concept James, which supports about 80 workers in rural to production, spending over 30 years working in Georgia. factories and laundries. But, I would have to say fit What is your biggest pet-peeve about the and garment finishing. industry? What’s on your to-do list for 2017? My biggest peeve of late is respect. There is a I am launching a new brand with my partner, general attitude that Japanese and Europeans are Ben Shaul, called 5th Gear. We are both cyclists better at denim and yet they all flock to the Rose and denim aficionados and saw a niche market Bowl Flea Market in California and covet brands we are calling “Vintage Tech,” a combination of like Levi’s, and RRL. Then there is this new crop vintage denim with cycling style details. We are of so-called “denim experts” and designers who incorporating technical and selvage denims with for the most part lack the experience and skills. tin cloth, tweeds and indigo knits. All fabrics will Companies hire them only to discover they don’t be weatherproof and we’re keeping the denim drive business or have the skill set to develop the raw so people can “grow their own” jeans. We will product. produce all the product in the U.S., using Cone Describe the perfect jean. White Oak denim, knits made in the U.S. and There are three perfect jeans for me. The straight traditional English fabrics. We will have a small slim, as a modified version of the boyfriend with capsule group which will be ready for Fall ’17 and a little stretch, one or two percent; vintage 501’s we plan to launch with e-commerce and a few with the perfect tears and my staple skinny black wholesale accounts. jeans with super stretch. I buy four or five pairs Do you consider denim to be a boys’ club? and wear them day-to-night on the bike or out to Outwardly it seems to be a boys’ club, but in fact dinner. there are more women running denim at most Where do you find inspiration? companies. For sure, [there’s more men managing Iconic movies, art exhibits, music, vintage companies] in Europe and Japan, but in the U.S. shopping and people watching. the ladies hold court. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received What challenges have you had to overcome while while working in the denim industry? working in the denim industry? Ralph Lauren taught me “that you have to look Besides business ups and downs in the denim backwards to be forward and dress a person of market, we tend to get on one trend and every today.” company starts doing the exact same product at every price point. I use the printed denim What are some important characteristics to have example—the shows and stores were flooded with in order to succeed in denim? printed denim and indigo denim took a sales dive. You need to be honest, work hard, roll up your And where are those printed jeans today? The sleeves, get dirty, learn everything, be thickother challenge is manufacturing. There needs to skinned and know your craft. be more push to have trade shows focusing on What are you most proud of in your career? sewing and laundries by region. RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 36
I am proud of it all, but it is my son, Owen, who is my true “gene line.” I am most proud of being a working mom. Why do you believe in denim? I believe denim has helped define my life: first as a form of rebellion, then freedom and a career well lived. Once indigo is in your veins, it is for life. Amy Leverton Denim Dudes author, denim consultant, trend specialist and journalist What’s your denim pedigree? I graduated in 2002 from Kingston University with a fashion degree and my first job was at a London-based design company called Oki-ni. We collaborated with various companies such as Evisu, Levi’s and Lee, creating limited-edition runs of product. One of the collaborations was with Duffer St George and they wanted to create the ultimate jean, which meant visiting the ultimate mill: Cone Mills in North Carolina. At the end of my three day stay there, I was totally hooked. The thing with denim is it’s a never ending pit of information: the history, the chemistry, the mathematics involved in weaving…what other area of apparel combines sex and rock ‘n’ roll with a total geek mentality? It literally ticked every box for me and I was in love. Since then I worked as a designer for four years then got into trend and have worked in trend for about eight years, all entrenched in the denim industry. Do you consider denim to be a boys’ club? For sure. Sometimes I have come across a little sexism, but most of the time guys don’t even realize they are doing it, so I try not to get frustrated. I think we can all work together to create a fairer, more equal industry. At the end of the day, the men’s denim market is big, but if you think about all of the women’s brands out there, females should be recognized as being a huge part of this industry. We make a lot of money for denim brands and we are badass! Who do you admire in the denim industry? There are a few characters who I look up to for sure. My absolute favorite person to work with is Levi’s SVP Jonathan Cheung. He is the single most switched-on, driven and intelligent person I get to work with. We work together every season and u
FEATURE each season I become a better version of myself because of him. Another person who stands out to me is Andrew Olah. He is an industry great, his expertise lies in the global supply chain of denim so there’s not a factory, supplier, cotton grower or manufacturer he doesn’t know. The ultimate quality that makes both these guys my favorite though is kindness. They are both mentors to me because they invest time, patience and generosity into our relationship and I will always appreciate their help and support in my career. I would give a shout out to Madeline Harmon of Chuck’s Vintage for her insane historical denim knowledge and also the incredible Lynn Downey, a former Levi’s historian who is definitely the godmother of denim. Do you think you bring a different perspective than your male colleagues? Well, the ultimate goal for any true feminist is to be seen as equal, so I am loathed to list the ways in which being a woman makes me ‘better’ than men. Every individual has their own set of skills and perspectives. But I do think that as a woman in the denim industry I have had to work twice as hard as some male contemporaries to get where I am, which has instilled a strong work ethic in me. I honestly feel like any struggle I experience has contributed to my determination and success, so any imbalance in opportunity I embrace as a challenge and become stronger from it.
and Bangkok next year. My biggest aim for 2017, however, is to make it the year of celebrating women in denim. With the book coming out, I want to open up a dialogue around the female talent in the industry and shine a light on the fabulous women in denim. That’s my main goal for 2017. What is missing in the women’s denim market? I think there’s a gap in the market for a premium women’s denim brand that isn’t just about soft, high-stretch, so-called luxury skinnies. I think this old ‘premium fashion denim’ model is a little patronizing and there’s room in the market for something that is a little more authentic. Brands that are speaking to that customer right now that I salute are Eve Denim, W’menswear and Ayr denim. Describe the perfect jean. The perfect jean is your best friend, a coconspirator and your ultimate hype man: someone who makes you feel sexy, confident and comfortable all at the same time. So basically the perfect jean is like the perfect man. What is your favorite denim city? I’m sorry to be predictable, but Tokyo. The thing is, with the Japanese, they encapsulate that rare balance of understanding heritage, craft and quality—all very important elements of good denim design—but the street style is so directional. It’s like looking two years into the future. That combination is not replicated anywhere else in the world—yet. Name one thing you’d change about the denim industry. The pollution, the social responsibility, the impact on our world and mother nature, for sure. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t question my role working in an industry that is so bad for the environment. I try to make myself feel better by telling myself that it is better to stay in the industry and try to help make changes than to abandon it altogether. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received while working in the denim industry? Work twice as hard as everyone else. Seriously, that’s the only way—especially as a woman. You put in more, you get out more, period. And that advice was from my old boss at Stylesight, Sansan Chen. Thanks Sansan, you were so right.
Why do you believe in denim? Jeans will always be in our lives because they are the most versatile item in our wardrobes. It’s like that friend who just gets on with everyone. A pair of jeans has the capability to be customized to suit anyone of any age, social status, wealth, music taste and style.
What is your first denim memory? My mum used to put me in denim coveralls and I’m ashamed to say it, but I actually hated them. I What are some important characteristics to have love them now and wear them all the time, but at in order to succeed in denim? You’ve got to be into your history, as denim is such 8-years-old I was not into OshKosh. a historical fabric, and basically you do need to be What is your biggest pet-peeve about the a bit of a geek. You also have to be open minded industry? and never happy to stand still. You need to be into Blue lighting at denim events and parties. Ugh, drinking beer and be tolerant of blue lighting at every damn time. denim events! Oh, and you have to like hanging out with guys! What’s on your to-do list for 2017? Denim Dudettes comes out in 2017 and I plan to do a bit of a world tour when the book launches. Through my work with brands, trade shows and journalism, I plan to visit Hong Kong, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Florence, Shanghai, Dhaka RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 38
CORDURA® Brand presents
Authentic Alchemie Collection Exploring the past to reinvent the future.
For more information please visit:
www.cordura.com © 2016 INVISTA. CORDURA® is a trademark of INVISTA for durable fabrics. Photos courtesy of Danny Pack – firstname.lastname@example.org and Ame Pierce of Burds, shot by Stephanie Sian Smith for Denim Dudettes.
Kingpins X Denim Dudes S/S 18 Denim Trend Forecast By Amy Leverton of Denim Dudes and Kingpins Spring/Summer 2018 is a season of choice, of breadth and of contrasts. In this ever-diversifying world, the market is becoming tougher and tougher to predict. Choice is overwhelming and the customer is more powerful than ever before. Denim brands must decide how to react. Do they chase after every trend and every emerging silhouette. or style tribe? Do they evolve in order to succeeded or do they hold steadfast to their DNA?
Kingpins and Denim Dudes bring you their ultimate thoughts on the season ahead with their upcoming denim trend showcase, set to debut at the Kingpins Shows in Amsterdam (Oct. 26-27) and New York (Nov. 2-3). A sneak peek into the trend installation and presentation that will debut at the upcoming Kingpins shows, this S/S ’18 forecast features corresponding fabrics from Kingpins’ innovative and trend-setting exhibitors.
THE TREND: Tech-Tribes Athleisure has been the most talked-about threat to the denim market in recent years, with the fear of the humble sweatpant or legging eclipsing denim sales. But knowledgeable sources in the market are adamant that these two wardrobe staples are very different animals, and denim—whilst perhaps suffering a dip—will remain strong. Those that love denim share the same view; the 5-pocket jean will always hold its own. However, athleisure is still a strong trend and will drive new directions in style that will influence the denim market. Our first story, Tech-Tribes, revolves around a vision of a new global nomadic future, driven by functional athletic wear and advances in technology. The story is heavily driven by Asia and Southeast Asia, looking at major cities like Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh and Singapore. However, whereas two seasons ago the denim world was fixated upon traditional craft coming out of these zones, emerging brands have since taken those ideals and modernized them. Explore exaggerated and conceptualized versions of traditional sashiko stitch, boro repair, ikat weaving and indigo dying, paying attention to modernize with technical advances and functional elements.
Blue Blue Japan RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 40
Courtesy of Edward Crutchley RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 41
THE TREND: future uniform
We can’t mention denim without talking about heritage. A macro trend that is continuing to drive the purist, mostly menswear market, heritage has been a catalyst for denim since 2010. Heritage came about as a reaction to the financial crises and education surrounding fast-fashion practices. It ended up driving many style trends including workwear detailing and items like the chore jacket. Now, it morphs slowly into military. Our S/S ’18 story, Future Uniform, explores the evolution of these ideals through the lens of a post-normcore generation. Utilitarian basics are reinvented for the urban nomad, mixing function with fashion to unveil gender-neutral, minimal and utilitarian basics. As our first two trends feature function and tech, the ying to this season’s yang looks at themes truly at the heart of denim: vintage, rock ‘n’ roll, retro and rodeo. Western styling has been building for some time both on the runways and in the streets, and elements of western styling inform many aspects of the season. The final stories split into two attitudes: one that’s roots lie on the 1970’s sunset strip and one that embraces the humble surroundings of Santa Fe.
THE TREND: sunset skate
Gucci has become a massive driving force for the fashion world. It’s not just inspiring high street copies, but peer-to-peer, designer-level replication. So strong has the movement become that this opulent, bohemian excess has influenced the whole industry. Denim being denim, however, means that the excesses of this Italian fashion house need a little dirtying to remain authentic. High-end flair is combined with the underworld of 70’s glam-rock, tempering flamboyant embellishment with a darkened palette. Materials are inspired by opulent interiors with satin weaves, metallic coatings and jacquards. We’ve named this story Sunset Skate. Courtesy of Fort Lonesome
ITV Denim RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 42
Courtesy of Dixon Rand
Courtesy of Kingpins
The Trend: Neue West
Our most authentic jeanswear story, Neue West, is where Santa Fe styling combines with a global nomadic magpie attitude. A strong mix from both East and West drives sun-faded and softened artisanal looks. The rodeo attitude continues at the fore of this story, driving patchworks, embroideries and appliques. True craft is celebrated, but as with our first story, looks are modernized and conceptualized to create a fresh and contemporary attitude. This story also explores the concept of re-made denim for a new generation. Piecing, re-working and recycling pay homage to the past whilst reinventing jeanswear for the future.Â
496 Fabric Lab
Courtesy of Dixon Rand RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 44
Courtesy of Dixon Rand
What They Wore: Munich Fabric Start By Angela Velasquez Photography by Alexis Carey Denim drenched with details populated the last edition of Munich Fabric Start in September. With temperatures in the 80s, attendees were enjoying the last days of summer, donning festival-inspired metal spikes, exaggerated rips, frayed hems and DIY patches. Dark washes, along with decadent pearl and crystal embellishments, hinted at the direction denim street style is going toward for fall.
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FROM THE INDUSTRY
The Case for Cotton What does the fluctuating price of raw cotton mean for denim? By Jon Devine Denim is perhaps the most popular and recognizable cotton fabric. As such, the denim industry is keenly aware of fluctuations in the price of raw cotton. The recent rise in cotton prices may have some manufacturers wondering if there might be a repeat of the historic price rise during the 20102011 crop year, during which raw cotton prices escalated well above $2 per pound. With a nearrecord global supply of cotton, history is not likely to repeat itself. However, the recent bump can be attributed to several factors; including seasonality, a unique situation involving India and Pakistan, as well as certain aspects related to on-going sales from the Chinese reserve program. Around the world, every cotton farm gets one harvest per year. With the vast majority of the world’s cotton coming from the northern hemisphere (around 85 percent), this can imply some seasonality of supply. Immediately following the harvest in the late fall and winter, supplies reach their peak. With a lot of cotton available during this time period, there can be weakness in prices. A couple of months before the harvest during the summer and early fall, demand has to be fed through what is available in warehouses. With the potential for tightness during this time period, there can be a seasonal uptick in prices in supply. The recent price bump occurred during this time and some of the pressures that led to the increases can be expected to weaken as the harvesting period approaches. The upcoming crop is expected to be larger than last year, with nearly 10 percent more cotton expected to be produced outside of China, where supplies are freely available. In combination with weak import demands from China, this increase in production could be expected to allow prices to ease. One of the countries expected to have a large increase in production this year is Pakistan. Last year, cotton growers in Pakistan had a challenging season due to weather and pest issues that pulled yields 30 percent lower. With less cotton available domestically, Pakistani mills had to import cotton and ended up importing the second-highest volume on record—up 2.2 million bales from the last crop year. Most of Pakistan’s imports come from India, and the increase in import demand from Pakistan coincided with a year that India had less cotton to sell. Traditionally, India grows more cotton than its mills use, to the extent that India has been the world’s second largest exporter. Due RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 48
to a reduction in acreage and their own set of challenging growing conditions, India’s surplus of production was comparatively small last year. With cotton flowing across the border to Pakistan after the harvest, Indian supplies pulled tight this summer. There were even reports that India had to re-import cotton back from Pakistan. The tightness in India’s supplies resulted in strong increases in Indian cotton prices. Between March and July, India’s spot prices increased 25 cents per pound, or 40 percent. Price increases were also driven by the outlook for this fall’s harvest. Each year, India gets about 85 percent of its annual rainfall from the monsoon that comes between June and September. This summer, the monsoon was late. Indian cotton acreage was already expected to be lower due to a combination of tough growing conditions last season and competitive prices for food crops. The lack of rainfall suggested that the upcoming Indian harvest could be smaller than previously expected, fueling concern that supplies would not be sufficiently replenished by the next harvest. In August, the rain came and Indian cotton prices began to fall. The monsoon brought above average precipitation to the entire country and Indian weather officials indicated that no growing region is suffering from excessively dry conditions. For this reason, above average yields are expected, and India is projected to grow about the same amount of cotton as last year on 10 percent less land. In contrast to the situation in India, the price increases in China occurred despite a huge amount of cotton in storage in the country’s warehouses. The issue in China has not been the existence of cotton supply, but rather one of accessibility. Chinese government reforms announced in 2014 encouraged the use of domestic supply over imports. For that reason, China has become a market separated from the rest of the world due to import controls. China grows much less cotton than its mills consume, and the production gap has largely been filled by releases from the massive volume of reserves accumulated between 2011-2013. However, it has not always been easy for the Chinese government to move reserve supplies. Auctions conducted in 2014 and 2015 had limited uptake, with only about 5 percent of the cotton offered for sale actually purchased. A key change for the sales conducted this year was the lower price. With a lower sales price, virtually all of the cotton put up for sale since the auction process
began in May has been purchased. Another factor that likely has contributed to the success of this round of auctions is that the commencement of this set of sales was delayed. Expectations were that sales could have begun as early as March, but actual sales did not begin until May. With mills expecting prices to be lower when the auction began, there was little incentive for them to buy any cotton in the winter and early spring. After several months of relying on inventory, mills had very little cotton on hand by the time the auctions actually started, and that pent-up demand translated into a brisk sales rate. As auctions progressed, there were logistical issues associated with fiber quality that caused the volume of cotton offered for sale to drop by about a third in late May and early June. In addition to mills, traders are allowed to buy cotton at auction. In the summer months, traders were siphoning off about half of the cotton sold by the government. This meant that it was still difficult for mills to rebuild inventory and the corresponding scarcity helped Chinese prices rise despite the on-going release from reserves. In response to the tight supply situation, the Chinese government extended its auction period through the end of September. The extension is significant, not only because it represented the availability of increased physical supply but also because it can be interpreted as a signal from the Chinese government that it will act to preserve price stability. Looking forward, the price outlook involves different influences and different degrees of certainty for different areas. For the world outside of China, prices could be expected to continue to ease as the harvest approaches. There have not been any major weather-related issues in any of our major cotton producing countries, and the U.S., the world’s largest cotton exporter, is expected to have a healthy 30 percent increase in cotton stocks. Other large exporters, such as Brazil and Australia, are also expected to have more cotton in storage at the end of the 20162017 crop year. This increase in available cotton supply could result in lower prices. Even though India is expected to grow more than its mills will use, the country is expected to have a small surplus again this year. Pakistan looks like it will have a good harvest. This suggests that India’s exports will be lower, but the combination of a small surplus and a certain level of exports implies that Indian stocks should be flat or lower. In China, price direction is expected to continue to be dominated by government policy. There is plenty of cotton in the country, but what will likely determine price direction in China is how well the government is able to coordinate releases from reserves relative to mill needs. The harvest will begin being collected in October, after the current round of sales concludes at the end of September. Reserve sales are set to recommence in March. If a period of tightness emerges between these two sources of supply, there could be a reaction in prices. The Chinese government has repeatedly stated that price stability is their objective and the recent extension of sales seems to substantiate those comments. As long as implementation is efficient, Chinese prices could be expected to be relatively stable.
INDICATORS TO WATCH
U.S. Weather and Exports
Indian and Pakistani Crop Development
There were hot and dry conditions in the important West Texas region this summer. Despite this, the crop got off to a good start overall. Weather has been pretty good. Heavy rains hit Louisiana and Hurricane Hermine passed through the southeast causing damage in the area, but less than 2 percent of U.S. acreage is located in the state. Not many bolls were open in Hermineâ€™s path and the rainfall was even beneficial in some areas. Production forecasts have been rising. The question is whether or not the U.S. will be able to meet the projection for exports. The USDA estimates that 70 percent of the increase in production will be able to find a buyer overseas. It may be difficult to achieve that without China reemerging as an importer and, presently, there is no indication that China will allow more imports this crop year.
China has indicated that it might bring in some quality cotton from abroad to lift the average quantity held in reserves. If this occurs, it would likely not be a lot of cotton, but it could boost prices if and when it happens. The information contained herein is derived from public and private subscriber news sources believed to be reliable; however, Cotton Incorporated and the Cotton Board cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. No responsibility is assumed for the use of this information and no express or implied warranties or guarantees are made. The information contained herein should not be relied upon for the purpose of making investment decisions. This communication is not intended to forecast or predict future prices or events.
The outlook for Pakistani crops remain positive. They are one of the first major cotton countries to harvest. If they can collect a decent harvest, Indian exports should be lower. If India can also manage decent yields Indian stocks and prices should stabilize.
FROM THE INDUSTRY
Sustainability from green to blue How Jeanologia Plans to Put people first. By Enrique silla
A group of rebels, or so how we called ourselves, created Jeanologia 20 years go with the idea of transforming jean production. Then, we realized that the manufacturing process is both a part of jeans’ DNA and its beauty. We made the decision to research and develop new technologies to enhance this process. Our designers and engineers started to figure out new ways to completely eliminate the use of water, chemicals and waste, together with an energy consumption reduction. At the time, the green movement began to grow within the denim world. It started by focusing on the craft and marketing. This led to theusage of natural dyes and organic cotton, as well as recycling unwanted apparel and the return to handmade styles. It was more of an artisan movement than a technological one. Technological aspects were completely left out, and consumers during this time were expected to pay more for a pair of ecofriendly jeans. In parallel, some denim brands began to implement marketing strategies to promote eco-products. This approach resulted in a fad—a seasonal trend that only satisfied consumers who were eager to pay more for “saving the planet” rather than creating a real business model that could transform the entire denim world. This “green” business model was flawed. Consumers did not want to pay more for something that is the manufacturer’s responsibility, and brands risked appearing dishonest and inauthentic. Today, instead, we talk about “blue” sustainability. This is not just a trend, but a real business model that is dramatically transforming the entire industry. The idea is to introduce the technology and transform the way in which we design and manufacture textiles and blue jeans. Blue sustainability has paved the way for tech artisans that are both craftsmen and technologists. Technology is used to minimize water consumption and chemicals, eliminate waste, and reduce energy in all processes. As a consequence, we save the planet, our common home, as we also reduce costs and create a better product for the consumer. So the debate is “blue” versus “green.” The blue model is a real solution, not a seasonal tactic or fashion. It creates a positive combination for the customer where eco-efficiency and fair priced products coexist. The blue RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 50
model is not a marketing strategy, but a company’s tangible decision and a real long term compromise.
I believe that without genuine values, a brand will not survive in the future. In this new economy, there is no room for tricks, lies or indecision.
I believe that without genuine values, a brand will not survive in the future. In this new economy, there is no room for tricks, lies or indecision. Four ideas guide us toward a brighter “blue” future: cost, brand, technology and sustainable development. Jeanologia’s mission is to develop and provide the technology to make this possible. We have already introduced our Laser, Ozone and Nano Bubble solutions, thus eliminating 50 percent of the water consumption needed for worldwide jean manufacturing. However, the ultimate detox transformation towards a brighter blue industry will come soon from our Radical Zero Project. In this blue model, people come first. There are millions of “blue” workers in the worldwide jean family. There is no point in protecting the rivers and oceans if we do not protect our people first. At Jeanologia, we believe in a “blue” economy. We believe that “business as a force for good” is a great business. We are conscious of the great mission we are engaged in and we desire, more than ever, not to be the best company in the world, but be the best company for the world.
Revolutionary Stretch Fiber Ups THE Ante on Stretch Denim X4zol-J fiber ushers in the next generation of stretch denim, offering a better fit, comfortable stretch with exceptional recovery, as well as cooling and breathability features. The Lubrizol Corporation, a Berkshire-Hathaway company, has cracked the code to engineering a stretch fiber capable of providing unique functional and aesthetic benefits to the wearer. The Wickliffe, Ohio-based maker of specialty chemicals has developed X4zol™-J fiber, a new stretch fiber that ticks a multitude of boxes for denim brands, designers and consumers. X4zol™-J fiber elevates denim fabric by providing a softer, yet stronger stretch that makes for denim that boasts exceptional fit and shaping. Denim made with X4zol™-J fiber features an even compression stretch in all directions—the result of which is a jean that beautifully contours the body. “While X4zol™-J offers high compression, it’s always balanced and comfortable,” said Ravi Vedula, Lubrizol Global Market Development Manager. To translate the attributes of this amazing new fiber into denim fabrics, Lubrizol partnered with Olah Inc., a New York-based denim agency with global experience, in developing denim fabrics with the world’s leading denim mills and selling these fabrics to brands and retailers. Olah Inc., in partnership with their mill partners, has provided the technical expertise to create the next generation of stretch denim fabrics with attributes that will appeal to consumers. Michael Morrell, a partner at Olah Inc., believes in X4zol™-J’s special kind of stretch. “The importance of compression in stretch denim cannot be overstated and X4zol™-J is the best fiber I have come across in this respect,” Morrell said. “And brands agree that X4zol™-J provides an innovative new denim with unparalleled fit, comfort and contouring.” The secret to X4zol™-J’s success is in its very nature, says Lubrizol. Traditional stretch fibers are made of spandex and feature an “S-shape” stress/strain curve, illustrating initial resistance to stretch, or elongation followed by a period of low resistance to continued stretch, and then finally a rapid increase in resistance to the point of full elongation or breakage. X4zol™-J fiber, on the other hand, is a thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU—a monofilament that is manufactured differently from elastane, resulting in unique qualities that provide comfort above and beyond traditional stretch fibers. One key reason is X4zol™-J’s unique stress/strain curve, which illustrates a softer, more consistent stretch up to the point of full elongation, tracing a “J” shape. This allows the wearer to experience freedom of movement with no restriction. Additionally, X4zol™-J requires at least 30 percent less force to stretch than spandex. The fiber is produced using a melt extrusion process. The resulting monofilament has significantly RIVETANDJEANS.COM / NOV 2016 / 52
higher molecular weight than spandex, making it both thinner and stronger, which translates to a higher breathability in denim fabrics, creating a cooling effect. In addition, X4zol™-J is produced without the use of solvents common in spandex production, resulting in a reduced environmental impact*. Leading denim brand NYDJ was the first to exclusively launch the innovative fabric this fall under their Future Fit™ collection. “We’ve been very pleased with the performance of Future Fit,” said NYDJ President and CEO Lisa Collier. “The even compression creates a perfect, secondskin fit that’s incredibly comfortable, offering our consumer the style she loves and the comfort that she expects.” NYDJ’s newest take on the Future Fit jean is NYDJ UpLift, which leverages the flawless fit of X4zol™-J and adds the brand’s Optic Pocket™ seaming design that gives the illusion of a visibly lifted backside. The new launch was introduced on Good Morning America on Sept. 27. Olah Inc., working with Prosperity Textile, a premier denim mill in China, is creating a new range of denim fabrics using the X4zol™-J fiber, which will be on display at the next Denim Premiere Vision Show in Paris, Nov. 2-3, 2016 under the “J-Fit” trademark.
The Lubrizol Corporation The Lubrizol Corporation, a Berkshire-Hathaway company, is a market focused, technologydriven global company that owns and operates manufacturing facilities in 17 countries, as well as sales and technical offices around the world. Founded in 1928, Lubrizol has approximately 9,000 employees worldwide. Email: email@example.com Website: www.lubrizol.com *Environmental impact determined via “Life Cycle Assessment of X4zol™-J Fiber” conducted by Environmental Resources Management (ERM).
CheeKY LADIES Kava gorna's photo book, 100 cheeks, celebrates ladies in denim. By Emily goldman
Photographer Kava Gorna shot her first denimclad bottom about five years ago while working on a personal project. The subject, her friend Janelle, was lying on the bed wearing ripped jeans. Gorna had no intention of making a book out of the photo, but the image and the countless others she shot like it afterwards, unknowingly served as the inspiration for her photo book. 100 Cheeks is a compilation of exactly that— 100 images of women’s derrieres in jeans. For the book, Gorna photographed friends and women she admired, having them each choose jeans from their respective closets and snapping them in places that represent their personality. The book was released in June and has caught the attention of Vogue, Refinery 29 and The Wall Street Journal with its snapshots of short shorts and classic Levi’s 501s. “Jeans form to your body, and the way they wear out and shape the body is very unique to each person,” Gorna said. “I almost felt I wanted to tell the story of this one thing that everyone owns and how it’s different on every body. And I found that everyone looks really good in jeans.”
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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?
The Ladies of Denim I S/S 18 Trend Forecast I The Truth About Pakistan