By  on July 27, 2011

There’s something fishy going on in Amsterdam’s hotbed of denim.

Launching for spring, KOI, a new Dutch jeans label named after theJapanese carp, subtly draws attention to the fish’s natural habitat bysaving resources through organic and recycled denim fabrics.

“Recycling is the next step [in denim],” said Tony Tonnaer, founder andcreative director of KOI. “Instead of new cotton, we’re using wastematerials.”

Tonnaer said the recycled share amounts to 45percent of KOI’s business in its first season. But don’t call it an ecobrand.

“It’s a denim brand,” Tonnaer said. “We purposely don’tuse any green colors.”

The label is branded with a quirkyillustration of an American cowboy riding a Japanese koi.

Pricesare reasonable for jeans linked to one of the most expensive fish onthe market. KOI jeans retail between 99 and 159 euros, or $141 and $226at current exchange.

Tonnaer wouldn’t offer a sales projection,but explained that the brand is targeted at 50 doors in Germany, 20 inthe Netherlands and eight in Sweden.

“We’re only focusing onNorthern Europe for now,” he said. “Businesswise, the region is healthyand it’s close to home, so it’s easy to manage. My life lesson withbusinesses is to start with a few markets.”

Tonnaer, who workedas managing director at organic jeans brand Kuyichi for seven years, wasinspired to start his own business after traveling to the U.S. andJapan. KOI is now aiming to combine authentic American denim styles withJapanese detailing.

“The styling is quite traditional, almostlike old Levi’s constructions,” Tonnaer explained about the 12- to13-oz. styles. “But we added details like backside rivets or stripedlining inside the pockets.”

He emphasized that even thecollection’s nondenim assortment, including chino trousers, basic jerseytops and small leather accessories, is meant to support the denim look.

“It’s all about blue, blue, blue,” he said. After all, the company’sname isn’t just borrowed from the koi fish, it is also drawing specialattention to the blue dye. KOI stands for Kings of Indigo.

Thereare three styles for men and four for women available in two to threewashes. To stick with the regal theme, each style is named after afamous king or queen, teaching customers a lesson in classical history.Philip, a regular men’s style, hints at the former king of Macedonia,while Juno, a women’s skinny cut, was queen of the gods in Romanmythology.

“We wanted to give each jean a personality,” Tonnaeradded. “They become part of you, so it’s important to create a characterthat will change over time and develop.”

Even if developmentreaches the point of ripped seams, there’s a solution. KOI’s springlaunch will also include at-home repair kits for such occurrences.

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