Last week I had the privilege of learning more about Boyish Jeans sustainable denim manufacturing process. I'm going to take you along the ride and show you behind the scenes of a sustainable denim brand.
Unfortunately, a lot of mills have shut down in the U.S., even the famous Cone Mills White Oak mill was shut down. So, the production process starts with your cut/sew factory.
It was wonderful to see the owners of the factory so involved in the processes and how all the workers looked like they actually enjoyed the environment they were in. I was actually surprised when I was told that it was a little messy in there, because I was thinking that they were great at catching the waste from off cuts.
One of the major points the founder of Boyish pointed out to me was that, sustainability is about efficiency and balance. I really saw the efforts towards being more efficient with all of the speciality machines they had in this factory.
-> The first machine is on a constant loop that is pressing belt loops together, preventing them from fraying.
-> The second machine is sewing the inside pant seam together.
-> The third machine is sewing the coin pockets on.
As you can see, the machines have one task. This ensures that you are getting the highest quality (you know the saying "do one thing well"), but also being very efficient at their one task.
After the cut/sew process, the product is taken to the wash house, which is a very short drive away. This allows Boyish to cut down on their green house emissions. Having all production touch-points in close proximity is very important. You could be manufacturing in the most sustainable way in Vietnam, but have to ship your product back to the United States. That plane trip to transport your product has basically eliminated your sustainable efforts.
At the wash house, I first learnt how O3 is used to wash jeans rather than the thousands of gallons of water. This is one of the major techniques used to save water in the washing process.
It was also interesting to see how these wash processes are used to achieve the right colour. If the colour does not come out right, you have to play around with how much ozone and enzymes are used. The difference could be very slight, but the outcome is so different!
Another thing that really stood out to me was the care Boyish has for their factory workers. They have chosen to use hand distressing over lasers because it creates more jobs! Lasers are becoming very efficient for distressing denim, but it can never beat the care and precision that hand detailed garments have.
Overall, I was very impressed with Boyish Jeans and their values. No brand is completely sustainable. Even the ones using vintage garments to make new products. At Boyish, the mentality is to do the best you can and always try to find better alternatives. This is how they've come to find the best fabrics, and the best factories in LA.
I 100% recommend this brand to anyone looking fro sustainable denim and am a huge supporter of their efforts!
I hope you enjoyed this little tour and until next time, STAY DILIGENT FRIENDS!