We have a very special edition of The Perfect Pair with Joseph “Rocco”, Founder, Rocky Clark Clothing. I recently had the pleasure to interview Joseph about his journey in designing a conscious jeans and his search for his perfect pair. Since he couldn't find them... HE MADE THEM!
Why is it important for you to commit to a sustainable supply chain?
We have one Earth. We also have an obligation to treat not only our home with respect but also each other. That means not only producing ethically but also producing sustainably. They go hand in hand. Clothing should be good for you AND the planet. The most important fact is - I want to feel good about the Earth we pass down to our children, so that they may enjoy nature and the other beauties this Earth has to offer.
We know the clothing industry is one of the most detrimental and harmful industries to date, so it’s never been an option for us to keep that top of mind throughout everything we do.
We could always be doing more, but given our current resources, it is impossible to have a 100% “sustainable” supply chain. What do you wish you could be doing more of in terms of sustainability?
It’s impossible to be 100% sustainable. We’re not looking for the final solution here, we are making a step in the right direction.
I would like to incorporate upcycling more - taking old garments and altering them. It is quite difficult to scale upcycling at the moment in denim (Re/Done perfected it). A couple of years ago we were using old army jackets and turning them into hats. There is nothing better than the camo pattern on vintage army garments. However, we are using more recycled materials in our fabrics (recycled cotton fabric scraps).
Another aspect of doing more is continuing to educate. The world of social media can seem like everyone cares about sustainability, but when I connect with people in person - there’s still a shortage of knowledge. How can I do better to spread this message? That’s always my fight.
There is always a constant chatter of - being truly sustainable is consuming/producing less. I don’t shop. I own about 10 pieces of clothing - I made our jeans to show people that outfit repeating is OKAY. Durability and longevity are what we are about. Repairing your clothing - I know so many people who still ‘buy and toss’ at the end of each season, mending truly matters! Let’s break up with the ‘do it for the gram’ mentality, I’m Team Outfit Repeat.
What is your favorite aspect of sustainability that you implement into Rocky Clark?
Producing in NYC / America. Yes, we consider that aspect of our core sustainable. We reduce shipping emissions - our clothing is from the factory to you, no warehouse. This also allows us transparency into the production process. We know the workers are treated fairly in safe working conditions because I can go to our factory.
My favorite aspect is also the challenges and obstacles that we put in front of ourselves. We have to say no to a lot of ideas and concepts that aren’t feasible to do sustainably. For example - it took us 3 years to produce our jeans because we just couldn’t find the right denim to make them with. And I love these jeans.
How have you been adapting to the current times?
I’ve really leaned into this entire situation. I’m doing my best to stay active and creative. Now is a great time to really question your ‘why’ and your habits. Are you doing all you can to minimize your waste and are you mindful of your consumption? I’ve been using this time to reflect on how I’d like to continue to contribute to society, in particular the clothing industry. Clothing has always been my outlet - I went to school for it and I just love the methodical process of sewing garments. I stay busy, even if it’s making aprons or oven-mitts for myself from some fabric scraps - keep the creativity flowing!
Any tips for designers looking to stay informed and sustainably inspired?
Be honest with yourself. It takes a lot of research and digging to find trustworthy sources. You need to educate yourself on suppliers and manufacturers - especially when it comes to fabrics. I’m lucky enough to visit my factory in NYC often so I can see everything going on - transparency is key. If you want to dedicate yourself to becoming “sustainable”, many sacrifices need to be made in order to do so. What are you willing to do?
What is your favorite pair of jeans and why?
Ha! Not being biased here but… My favorite jeans are the RC001 Denim Utility Panel Pants I designed. I could never find jeans that I loved, so I created some. They are my uniform and what I feel most like myself in. I just find myself unable to go back to the classic 5 pocket jeans. The pockets to me make way more sense and I love the double-layered knee for added durability/longevity. Regardless of which jeans I always prefer raw/selvage denim. Denim tells a unique story through every pair and the best stories told are through raw denim fades/patina over time. Thank you Joseph for sharing your personal experience. For more from Rocky Clark Clothing, be sure to check out theirwebsiteandInstagram! Until next time friends, STAY DILIGENT!