A Conversation About Sustainable Denim With Jeanerica
Being fans of Swedish jeans brand Jeanerica’s timeless aesthetics and eco-friendly approach, we invited co-founding designer Jonas Clason to a conversation about running a sustainable denim business.
Refined is the word that comes to mind; or as refined as basic denim goes. Jeanerica makes premium jeans, denim jackets, knit sweaters and T-shirts that do have, as the brand name possibly implies, a sort of generic sensibility to them; that said in the most positive way. The clothes are uncomplicated and minimalist, with no conspicuous tweaks or trend influenced features—the best recipe for being truly timeless, perhaps? But what’s really different and interesting about this fairly new brand, is the sustainable dimensions of their business model. Naturally, this is also what we’re so excited to pick their brains about.
Also read: The New Swedish Jeans
We love that your business model is based on ideas of sustainability! Was this ever an option for you, and how do you work with this today?
– When starting Jeanerica, sustainability was never an option, but a given ground pillar for our brand. Using organic cotton in denims and jerseys comes very natural for us and was never a discussion. Due to the nature of our fabrics we can also reduce the time spent in our finishing plants; saving water, chemicals and power.
– With that said, we still have a long way to go in becoming even more sustainable, finding alternatives for cotton and new ways of washing and finishing our products. It is a work in constant progress.
There are so many denim brands, and brands in general, making jeans right now—from expensive designers to fast fashion chains. How did you find the courage to start a jeans brand at this time?
– We started from a very personal level since we could not find the kind of jeans we wanted to wear ourselves. For us, denim is a classic and truly democratic commodity product, so therefore we wanted to create a brand that related to this in society today.
– The sum of “premium commodities based on denim archetypes with a contemporary expression and a sustainable approach” became Jeanerica, and it is also what differs us from other brands.
“Our design idea is quite simple: To make relevant cuts, washes and finishes for real people with high execution in a sustainable way”
How would you describe the design of your collection? What are the essential fits, shapes, colors and washes?
– Our design idea is quite simple: To make relevant cuts, washes and finishes for real people with high execution in a sustainable way. All within the frame of a modern, creative and inspirational brand. We work with fabrics, washes and colors that all fit into this idea, making contemporary yet timeless products, and avoiding short term trends.
We’re always curious to know more about a brand’s design and manufacturing process. Would you care to share yours?
– Since our canvas is quite small, we felt that in order to reach the level we wanted in our design process, we needed to look different than the average Scandinavian brand.
– Initially we were not able to find the perfect fabric, but had the possibility to develop our own together with premium fabric supplier Isko. The result is a 13 ½ oz denim in 98% organic cotton and 2 % elastane that comes in a number of colors. Fabrics are washed and dyed at Wash Italia, one of Italy’s best finishing houses
– We developed, and still develop, our designs at an Italian denim collection room called Creative Room in Castelfranco, Veneto. In Veneto, years of denim expertise is gathered, and at Creative Room we work with pattern makers, label suppliers, stitching experts and washing wizards to be able to deliver a perfect collection and a ”recipe” for the actual production to follow.
What are the biggest challenges in making a sustainable jeans and clothing collection? Do you feel that you’ve had to make compromises?
– Starting with the fabrics, there is normally a limited selection to choose from, which can cause problems. Organic fabrics are also more expensive, so you will have to work on how to find your correct price. We solved it by being very focused on using a small amount of different fabrics divided into different styles, washes and colors.
– As earlier stated, there is still a lot we can do to be more sustainable, but as a start we are satisfied with how far we have come.
Can you share some highlights from what you’ve learned in the process of starting up this brand? Maybe some dos and don’ts for other startups in the field of sustainable fashion?
– The most important thing is having a very clear idea of what you want to achieve from the beginning: Identify what you need to reach that goal and present your idea to stakeholders that can give you the help you need. Be pragmatic, but still firm on how to reach it.
How do you feel about the fact that about 80% of all jeans end up in landfills, and do you have any idea about how we should solve this problem?
– This is of course a huge problem, and we need to see a change in not only the denim industry, but in the fashion industry in general. Our contribution is to make qualitative products in both fabrics, stitching and design so you can wear them for a long time, avoiding short trends and bad qualities—all with a sustainable approach.
– On the denim side we still do not use any recycled fabrics, but on the jersey side we do. Finding a way to use more recycled fabrics in general is something we work on, and the industry in general is also getting better and better at recycling fabrics.
How do you see Jeanerica as a brand going forward?
– We have laid the foundation for the brand these first seasons, and will continue to work on designing quality products that fit into the brand’s DNA. We will continue to develop our sustainable side, and challenge ourselves daily on how to make a smaller impact on the environment.
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