Like any enterprise that has been round for greater than a century, the jeanswear business has its legends. It can be repeatedly reinventing itself and welcoming extra alternatives for innovation—and oftentimes, it takes a recent perspective to make actual change. Rivet’s Denim Minds Under 30 column shines a highlight on younger professionals dedicated to pushing the denim business ahead, paying particular thoughts to the planet and its folks.
In this Q&A, Chigoziri “Chigo” Ikeme, Reformation’s affiliate supervisor of denim product improvement, talks about her time at Reformation, and her visions for diversifying and cleansing up the denim business.
Describe your present job.
CI: Currently, I’m the affiliate supervisor of denim product improvement at Reformation. I handle the event of wash, trims and all denim classes whereas adhering to strict sustainability tips and an extremely fast speed-to-market.
What drew you to the denim business?
CI: What drew me to the denim business is how a lot of an involvement it had inside American historical past. It’s inspiring to see [how] what was as soon as a workwear staple has advanced over time via totally different tendencies and improvements. Most importantly, denim is statistically one of many least environmentally pleasant manufacturing sectors, however having the chance to be part of the changemakers who’re disrupting the traditional course of is each thrilling and rewarding.
What is your first denim reminiscence?
CI: My first reminiscence that basically piqued my curiosity in denim at an early age was after I had lastly saved sufficient of my allowance to purchase my first pair of designer denims in center faculty. They have been a pair of Pepe Jeans, which have been all the trend again then. They have been the good capris that had black, pink and white skulls embroidered on the again pocket plus cuffed hems that had distinction skull-printed material. I wore them each probability I acquired and felt cool as a result of nobody else I knew had that very same pair.
Since working in denim, has something stunned you in regards to the business?
CI: What stunned me probably the most within the denim business was how labor-intensive conventional wash processes have been. Everything from hand-sanding, to including grinding and destruction was primarily a talented craft. Now with the push to a extra sustainable and moral manner of growing denim, I’m amazed at how know-how has been launched to imitate the standard dry processes and scale back water utilization at distinctive charges.
What are your short- and long-term targets for the business?
CI: My short-term purpose for the business is to proceed to study one of the best methods to develop denim sustainably, and preserve abreast of all the most recent improvements inside uncooked supplies and manufacturing. Luckily my present job permits me to do exactly that, as our core values middle on folks, product and planet. My long-term targets within the business are centered on amplifying Black voices inside the denim neighborhood and making a collective of types to encourage, educate and community with Black denim tastemakers. A dream of mine could be to create an after-school or faculty readiness program that focuses on the enterprise of denim.
Which manufacturers or provide chain companions do you look as much as, and why?
CI: I’m a bit biased, however to be on the within and witness firsthand the steps that Reformation takes to be an business chief within the sustainable fast-fashion sector is really inspiring. I can attest there’s no greenwashing in anyway—now we have by far the strictest business requirements, and rightly so. Honorable mentions to Nudie Jeans and Triarchy for additionally being on the forefront of sustainable denim. Though I haven’t labored with them but, I look as much as Saitex for being one of many main denim producers devoted to a greater setting and manner of working.
What do you assume the denim business will study from the pandemic?
CI: The denim business will study the significance of getting a diversified sourcing technique and being open to onboarding extra sourcing companions globally. The pandemic additionally dropped at gentle the significance of e-commerce and direct-to-consumer promoting, as a result of even within the midst of a pandemic, individuals are nonetheless shopping for denims.
What recommendation do you may have for different younger folks within the business?
CI: My recommendation for different younger folks within the business is to belief your information and abilities. Obviously we nonetheless have a lot to study as we proceed all through our profession journey, however by no means lose sight of how gifted you’re. In addition, discover a mentor and keep updated with the happenings within the business. I’ve been an avid reader of the Sourcing Journal since 2013 and I’ve discovered a lot that has helped me get to the place I’m at right this moment.
What would be the largest impression that younger folks can have on the denim business sooner or later?
CI: I believe the largest impression that younger folks can have on the denim business is that we demand radical transparency. It’s now not sufficient to make claims about sustainability—we wish to see it in motion. We wish to know all the pieces from the title of the sewer to the farm that the fibers got here from. But past sustainability from the product degree, we additionally care about ethics and illustration within the business.