I’ve always been curious how 100% recycled cotton works, because up until recently, I’ve always heard this is impossible! But, I had the pleasure of asking Tony Tonnaer, founder of Kings of Indigo, how he has created a 100% recycled cotton jean!!! At one of the first panels I watched Tony speak at, he mentioned he dreamt for a world where one jean recycled = one new pair made. And it looks like we are getting closer to that dream. Hi Tony!
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO ACHIEVE A 100% RECYCLED COTTON JEAN? WHAT PARTNERS WERE INVOLVED IN HELPING YOU GET THERE?
Kings of Indigo has been sustainable from day one. The thing about being truly sustainable is that you need to be dedicated to innovation.There is always the next, lower impact method to pursue and develop. We’ve been working towards 100% recycled denim for a while. We launched Red light Denim in 2015 with 40% post consumer recycled cotton. And at the same time we started with 10% recycled content in all our denim fabrics, then over the years moved up to 20% (almost all jeans are currently at least 20% recycled cotton mixed with organic cotton). And today, together with Bossa denim in Turkey, we were able to create a 100% recycled denim cloth. We launched 1 style now and a whole range for Fall 21.
WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAD AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
The thing about recycled cotton is that the fiber is a little shorter, making it less strong than the new cotton it originates from. Also a problem used to be that recycled cotton denim did not look nice when worn in or washed. Bossa’s technological innovation now allows us to keep the fiber length longer and thus stronger and look amazing. A true milestone!
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF KOI PRODUCTS? WILL THE AIM BE TO HAVE ALL PRODUCTS 100% RECYCLED?
We’re working towards a clear goal here. By 2025, we want to be able to announce we have absolutely no new cotton in our product, just recycled cotton and man made fibers like tencel, linen and hemp which are known for their low impact. Aside from 100% recycled denim we also carry 100% recycled tees and sweats (cotton/polyester) and 100% recycled wool knits.
WHAT ARE YOUR COMPANY'S SUSTAINABILITY GOALS / TARGETS THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF AND WHY?
'Doing It Right’ is our pledge, to do right by the planet and those we share it with. To do right by you. That means: no humans nor animals harmed, and every garment made with a conscience. No fast fashion. No greenwashing. And since sustainability is the word of the moment, we want to be crystal clear with what we’re doing to make a difference.
We’ve pinpointed the 5 Pillars of sustainability, which mark the most important factors we take into consideration in our holistic approach to creating clean clothing: planet friendly materials, responsible production, being waste consciousness, less water use and clean transport.
We make real effort to keep developing on each of these pillars. And with the help of media like you Ani, we are 100% transparent about where we stand and the progress we are making. (ps, we have cool imagery of the 5 pillars, shall I send your way?)
I’ve always looked up to Kings of Indigo’s courage to try new things and test new innovations and admit where they can improve. Imagine one day when 100% recycled cotton denim is the standard. Thanks to Tony and Kings of Indigo for showing us what can be done!
Until next time friends, always be curious and STAY DILIGENT!😋