Interviews

A walk to happiness with Detox Denim

11th November 2015

Fact: to produce a single pair of jeans, you need an average of 10,000 liters of water.
It is safe to say that the denim industry is destructive to our planet. To produce jeans, several chemicals are used, such as cadmium, mercury and lead. These chemicals are later on dumped into water sources, polluting it and bringing the quality down.
As Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace, puts it: “The wars of the future will not be fought over oil – they will be fought over water.”

This all sounds depressing, but there is some good news too. If you are wondering what you as a denim loving consumer can do to reduce the impact on the environment, there are several options.

Thrift shops or consignment shops for example offer used jeans for pennies.
If you don’t like buying second hand clothes, you can try to reduce the amount of water used to wash your jeans and apply a trick all the cool kids know about: freezing your jeans instead of washing it. Leaving your jeans in the freezer for a week won’t remove the stains, but it will kill all the living organisms and make it feel fresh and clean again.

Last, but not least, there are some companies out there that make eco-friendly jeans, reducing the amount of water and chemicals used in the production process and creating clothes that you can wear with a clear conscience.

Enter Atelier Noterman, a Belgian brand that was launched three years ago and focuses on male fashion and more specifically well-made chinos.
In January of next year, they will lauch ‘Detox Denim’ – a denim collection that is produced in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. To produce a pair of jeans, the brand uses 80% less water, chemicals and energy. How’s that for a dose of good news?

We met up with Luc De Maeght, the charismatic designer behind Atelier Noterman, for an inspiring denim talk over a couple of double espressos.
ddod-luc-2-2bDaily Dose of Denim: Nice to meet you, Luc. Could you tell us a bit more on your background in fashion?
Luc De Maeght: I’ve been a designer for most of my life, specializing in men’s clothes. Three years ago, I joined Novavo, an industrial textiles manufacturer,  and created ‘Atelier Noterman’. We make perfectly cut clothes with an eye for detail and our main focus are chinos and jeans.

DDOD: So when did you decide to focus on eco-friendly materials?
LDM: I was already aware of the fact that the denim industry uses a lot of water, but it wasn’t until I visited ItalDenim that I truly realized what kind of impact denim has on our environment. I decided to make a radical choice and to start producing denim that is a lot more eco-friendly than most of the brands that are out there.

DDOD: And Detox Denim was born? 
LDM: Yes! I collaborated with ItalDenim, who has been producing denim in a unique and sustainable way. They replace PVA, a toxic that helps fixating the typical blue colour on the yarns, by Chitosan, a completely natural, non-toxic and biodegradable material. When incorporated in the weaving process, the fabric no longer has to be washed and dried after weaving. This eliminates a significant amount of water use. Because Chitosan also coats the dye, there is no need for toxic fixing agents afterwards.
ddod-luc-6-2b ddod-luc-12-2bDDOD: Denim lovers might not be aware of the fact that the industry is very polluting.
LDM: That is absolutely right. And I think we, as a brand, should try to educate the consumer. The fur industry has undergone a similar process. Wearing fur in the ’70s was perfectly acceptable. Today, people who wear fur are often stigmatized because of animal cruelty concerns. I think it’s only a matter of time before people start realizing that wearing denim isn’t as harmful as they thought it to be.

DDOD: What’s your personal motivation to produce items in a sustainable way?
LDM: I am a father and I want to take my responsabilities. I realize I can’t change the world on my own, but I am willing to do my part in creating a better world. That’s why the baseline of Atelier Notermans is ‘Walk to Happiness’. It might sound a bit hippie-ish, but I truly believe luck is an attitude and creating a better future is a big part of it.

Detox Denim will be available from January 2016 in selected stores. Keep an eye on the website for more information.
ddod-luc-8-2b ddod-luc-10-2b ddod-luc-24-2bPictures by Dennis Ravays.