Nordic Denim House Blog

Keeping it real edition

by on Sep.18, 2009, under Headlines

Hi Y’all,

I’m back. Another busy week behind us. Still moving ahead at full steam, never stopping. I was supposed to be on my blog a bit more often than last week though. Since there is a lot happening in the world of denim and fashion in general.

There is plenty of talk going on about reusable resources and environmentally friendly denim. The whole topic is so wide that it will make another edition, sometimes in the near future. However somewhat related to this topic, I was horrified to read from a local newspaper that “In addition to Nudie brand of jeans authorities found high levels of dimethyl fumarate also from Wrangler and Lee -brands of jeans.” (STT, HS.fi, 16.09.2009). This lead to a number of stores both in Finland and Sweden to pull off the jeans from their shelves. Dimethyl fumarate causes serious skin irritation as well as allergic symptoms and is has in the past been used with leather products such as sofas with rather unpleasant consequences.

What alarms me about this whole article is the increasing need for the companies to push their products to the mainstream market with as low cost as possible. Being that I have worked with several companies using organic dyeing and cotton in production of their goods, I know the effort and cost it takes to produce a high quality pair of jeans or a shirt. Using natural dyes and organic cotton is in addition to being environmentally friendly also better for the consumer as the products have a tendency to be more comfortable and last longer.

Still I can understand why companies are taking the easy way out, outsourcing their denim fabric production to a lower cost production facilities and the actual production to yet another facility. The company can then produce higher quantities of the products with less cost as in comparison to keeping the production in a small workshop, where tailors and denim artisans produce the product by hand.

Many originators in the denim industry have fallen to the temptation to increase their fan base by offering products that barely or loosely match the quality standards of the brand but still ride under the brand’s flag. It’s kind of comparable to a classic brand selling their soul for profits, but as said it’s understandable why the companies do that.

But by doing this the company immediately loses control over the quality and the production of the products. The above example of dimethyl fumarate is just one example. It was recently reported that “a factory that makes jeans for Gap and Levi Strauss in Lesotho, southern Africa is illegally dumping chemical waste in a river and two unsecured tips where it poses a hazard to children.” (Kitmeout.com, August 4th, 2009)

In addition to the risk of running into bad PR as a result of “production malpractice”, the companies are putting their own brand and products at risk of being illegally copied by counterfeiters producing their goods in the proximity of the same production facilities producing genuine goods at lower cost. But is the consumer even safe anymore since there are genuine products that are already produced using harmful chemicals, which are often associated with the counterfeit products?

Well thankfully there are companies that still retain the artisan spirit and natural production techniques to produce high quality clothing. It is still rather depressing to read about such unfortunate accidents, although the brands mean well and want to bring their products to even wider audiences, they most often fail in their objective and end up alienating the core audience.

I think I’ll follow up on this stuff later on an environmentally friendly denim edition but that’s enough of serious stuff already. Let us all stay fresh and pursue the prosperous life. And most importantly, let us not sell out. Enjoy the cooling Autumn weather and be easy y’all, I’m out.

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