Founded and created by Deborah Marx, the managing director of Tom Cridland, Half Century Jeans are made of Japanese selvedge denim and ultradurable Spectra fibers that are 15 times stronger than cable steel, according to the brand. And its product is specially designed to live up to its name: The company guarantees a 50-year life span for its product, backed with a guarantee of free repair or replacement. With regular wear, jeans can typically last between seven and 10 years.
WWD: How would you describe the climate of the global denim market?
Deborah Marx: The European and North American denim markets still account for 70 percent of global sales. The U.S. is obviously still the “land of jeans” and many people in the South and Mid-West don’t really wear any other types of pants. There’s still an enduring demand for denim across Europe. What we can expect, over the coming years, is for Asia and South America, in particular, to catch up and for market growth on these continents to be stronger than what we’ll see in the U.S. and Europe.
WWD: What are the most notable trends right now? What’s driving those trends?
D.M.: Not only when it comes to denim, but when it comes to consumer attitudes to fashion general, I think we’re seeing a significant increase in the importance of corporate social responsibility to purchasing habits. People are more interested in where their clothing was made, by whom, whether it was made ethically, what materials were used and to what extent sustainability is important to a brand. Denim continues to see market trends such as the enduring appeal of the five pocket and the skinny jean becoming a cornerstone of the women’s market but nothing is more exciting to us than this evident movement towards consuming fashion more responsibly. It gave me the confidence to launch the Half Century Jeans!
WWD: We’ve noted an uptick in consumer demand for premium denim. Would you speak to the recent growth of that sector?
D.M.: There is no garment more durable than a well-made pair of jeans. Many consumers appreciate the fact that denim evolves and a pair of jeans becomes more unique the more it is worn over the years. Selvedge denim, in particular, is very much on-trend and making denim traditionally, like this, is more expensive. This is reflected by its relatively expensive retail price point and, therefore, in recent growth of the premium denim market.
WWD: What initiated the idea to create Half Century Jeans?
D.M.: As consumers, we need to buy less and buy better, and to stop subscribing to the “fast-fashion” mentality that has become so prevalent.
The fashion industry is the world’s second most polluting. Twenty-five percent of the world’s chemicals are used for textile production and 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions result from the apparel industry. As a result more toxic chemicals are released into our air, water and soil, and greenhouse gases are created that deplete our water and fossil fuel energy resources. Half Century Jeans are as comfortable as your favorite pair of jeans, but built from a special hybrid of materials including Japanese selvage denim, sourced from Okayama, and ultradurable Spectra fibers, which are 15 times stronger than cable steel. Crafted by our technologically groundbreaking production team in Portugal, these are the most indestructible jeans you’ll have ever worn.
We are so confident of this that, for the next 50 years, they will be backed with a guarantee of free repair or replacement, should anything happen to them.
WWD: Why was Portugal selected as a manufacturing base? And why is there a demand for Japanese denim?
D.M.: Portugal was chosen as a production base because my business partner and boyfriend, Tom Cridland, is half Portuguese and the brand produces all the clothing there and in Italy. As Half Century Jeans is a Tom Cridland “sister project” that I’ve launched, I wanted to use this amazing production team. Okayama in Japan is famous all over the world for making beautiful, extremely durable denim. In my mind, it’s the global capital of denim. As their care and attention to detail is unparalleled, I felt we had to source the denim for the Half Century Jeans from Japan.
WWD: Why is sustainability so integral to the future of the denim industry?
D.M.: Sustainability is important to the denim industry because the future of our planet hangs in the balance and many people seem to be blindly subscribing to a culture of excessive consumption and waste when it comes to things like clothing and food. This culture will make life very difficult for the human race within the next half century, should we not heed the warning signs that are all around us. The Half Century Jeans are demonstrative of why sustainability should be attractive to the denim industry. Not only does a sustainable attitude benefit the environment, it gives you better quality jeans and saves you money in cost per wear.
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