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As Calik Denim, a denim fabric manufacturer based in Turkey, celebrates three decades of business, the company continues to integrate its long-standing heritage with modern design concepts as a way to lead and differentiate in the market.

Calik Denim supplies a range of sustainable, organic and technical denim fabrics for brands worldwide. In celebration of its 30-year anniversary, Calik Denim hosted a series of commemoratory events in Istanbul and Amsterdam, as well as an upcoming event in Los Angeles on Dec. 6.

Also in focus is its latest project, Denim Loves Art, a “socially minded” program that spotlights the work of 30 young designers selected to showcase their “denim-inspired” works of art at its penultimate L.A. event. The initiative invites student designers worldwide to create an accessory, object or article of clothing made of denim, which is submitted and judged by an international panel. Winning contestants’ materials, production, and travel to the events is sponsored by Calik Denim.

Here, Hamit Yenici, general manager of Calik Denim, talks to WWD about the company’s 30-year history, brand innovations and its commitment to support emerging designers.

WWD: In what ways has Calik Denim evolved over its 30-year history? Has its brand identity changed over time?

Hamit Yenici: At 30 years, we feel proud to have built one of the world’s leading denim producing brands — one that is both innovative and dynamic but also deep-rooted and socially and environmentally responsible. It’s been a real journey from our beginnings in Turkey supplying the domestic market in the Eighties when it was virtually impossible to find any blue jeans in the country to today becoming a global leader of premium denim exporting to the world’s most prestigious denim brands in more than 40 countries.

It’s interesting that you ask how we and our brand identity have evolved over time as in fact we have just launched a new brand identity with a new motto, which is “Ever Evolving.” Our 30th anniversary milestone has been a chance for us to look forward to the next years — and so it was the perfect time for us to launch a new brand identity that really gets to the essence of who we are. It’s the result of our collaboration with a Swedish company, which took into account the views of the Calik Denim team, suppliers, customers and key players in the industry — to really define our DNA, who we are and what’s important to us — which is to always be striving for better and “ever evolving” to ensure that we’re always as the forefront of innovation, technology and sustainability to create a better future for all.

WWD: How does Calik Denim continue to attract a young and dynamic customer base?

H.Y.: As well as focusing on innovation, we also invest a lot in partnerships, sustainability, and our brand to ensure we always continue to attract a young and dynamic customer base.

For instance, we have recently been developing several partnerships with international brands and with fashion and design schools such as our most recent collaboration with Parsons Design School in powering their new and first department devoted to denim. The new partnership, which launched in August 2017, is part of our commitment to supporting emerging and upcoming talent, which also includes Denim Loves Art, a socially minded project we created involving 30 young international designers and their 30 denim-inspired pieces which were exhibited this year in Istanbul, Amsterdam and L.A. as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations.

Our focus on sustainability and creating new denim product lines, which use fewer resources and contribute to a lower environmental impact, has also as you can imagine, been attractive for the new generation.

In the long term, we hope that all such projects and products will continue to attract a young and dynamic consumer base who will want their jeans to be produced with Calik Denim fabric; as well as for design student to be increasingly familiar with the Calik Denim brand and mark of quality, innovation and sustainability when they graduate so that they would be more likely to work with our fabrics as they progress on through their careers.

Calik Denim celebrates 30 years.  Photo courtesy of Calik Denim

WWD: What are some of Calik Denim’s notable advances in fabric technology?

H.Y.: At Calik Denim our mission is always to break boundaries with new techniques, production processes and fabrics. We pride ourselves bringing new, unique and innovative denim fabrics into the global market place through our commitment to and investment in our people, and in R&D and technology. Indeed, throughout our 30 years in the denim sector, we have pioneered many world-first high-tech fabrics, high-resistance denim fabrics, Retina (the application of warp thread coating), natural antibiotic denim fabric (the integration of Aloe Vera micro beads), Outlast Denim (with a thermo-climatic effect), Elastech and Oxygene technologies. One of our newest innovations in denim fabric is our Smart Stretch denim, which was developed both for comfort and style, suiting all body shapes including plus sizes. The style flatters both curvaceous and more slender figures, using new technologies to increase its holding power and help it keep shape.

As we continue on our journey we’ll be embodying our new motto “Ever Evolving” with every step that we take, striving always to bring something new to denim lovers around the world.

WWD: How does Calik Denim approach sustainability in its manufacturing? Does the brand continuously innovate in this area?

H.Y.: From the very first day of setting up Calik Denim, corporate responsibility and ethical values have been an integral part of who we are and what we do. Our aim is to be a company that adds value to economic, environmental and social realms with our sustainable approach and thus we carry out an array of activities and investments in the field of sustainable development in both the national and international arenas.

In terms of specific actions, we as Calik Denim work hard to reduce our environmental impact at every stage of the production process, from the collection of raw materials to the production, distribution and recycling, to which our international certificates in this field attest to. We are constantly monitoring and evaluating all aspects of our business, to foresee and prevent any negative effects on our staff, clients or the society at large — including assessing and managing any possible environmental risks through our advanced R&D, system improvements and product development programs.

It’s also our mission to continually innovate in this area to create new and desirable sustainable products for our clients and the customer. With our new more environmentally friendly production processes we use fewer resources, and we have been able to create new product lines that have created new demand as well as garnering a lot of interest from sustainable and mainstream fashion brands. For instance, our Oxygene concept launched a new era in sustainability in the sector as we use less energy and water, fewer chemicals and it takes less time to produce — thus significantly reducing its environmental impact. We are proud of the impact not only we have had within our company and sector but also the wider industry as many textile and clothing producers are now following our lead and investing in sustainable methods. In addition we will be publishing our first standalone CSR report in the first quarter of 2018.

WWD: How is Calik Denim differentiated in the market?

H.Y.: We believe we are one of the leaders in terms of innovation. As our new brand image attests to, we are always innovating with both technology and our work processes to help our clients grow further and really stand out with their products. We believe that as we stride into the future we will continue to make further gains with our new strong global Calik Denim brand and a work model that aims always to innovate for better.

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