By  on November 15, 2007

LONDON — Sara Simmonds, founder of the London-based denim label Sharkah Chakra, believes the same production standards that make her jeans ethically sound also make the line more luxurious than a regular denim brand.

Simmonds' collection of jeans, which for fall is limited to a slim-leg silhouette in three washes, is made of denim woven on hand looms in the south of India from organic cotton. The denim is then dyed with natural Indigo, which can take as long as one month.

"[Hand-loom weaving] makes luxuriously soft fabric and the color is beautiful — very rich, vivid, blue and alive," said Simmonds, who before launching her line for fall spent seven years as a denim buyer for Harvey Nichols in London. "[The denim] is first and foremost about styling and fashionability, but it just happens to be ethical."

Simmonds has tried to make every part of the manufacturing process tie in with her principles. The name Sharkah Chakra means "hand make life'' in Hindi and in part refers to the founder's philosophy, "make up your own life."

She has sourced fair trade, organic cotton from Mali in West Africa, employs artisans in India to hand-weave the denim in their own villages and uses partly recycled 9-karat gold for buttons and rivets.

This level of attention to detail results in denim that retails for about $406, but Simmonds said the idea of spending on an investment piece also fits into her philosophy of what she calls slow fashion.

"It's about creating wardrobe staples, favorites that you can wear today, but also pull out in a year's time," Simmonds said. "I've seen a trend among my peers for not buying the must-have pieces, but buying fewer pieces that are going to last."

The collection will be sold exclusively at Harvey Nichols in London for fall and will launch at Fred Segal in Los Angeles next month. Simmonds plans to introduce one or two new fits each season, and for spring will add a boot-cut fit and a white denim to the indigo and vintage washes.

"It's not designed to be high fashion. If wide-leg jeans are big, then we'll do something with a soft flare or boot-cut instead," said Simmonds.There is also no spandex in the jeans, which Simmonds says means the denim gradually molds to the body for "an old-school fit."

Due to the small-scale nature of Sharkah Chakra's production, Simmonds said she plans on expanding the brand slowly.

"The way the denim is made means that it takes a day and a half to make enough cloth for one pair, so the stock is limited," Simmonds said. "We want to grow the brand organically and it's a lifestyle philosophy...but our passion is denim for the foreseeable future."

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