Recently Denimsandjeans held a webinar ‘What Next For Denim’ with some of very well known and globally reputed denim professionals . The panelists included :
1. Albert Candiani (Owner – Candiani Mills) 2. Aamir Akhtar (CEO- Arvind Mills) 3. Alberto De Conti( Head Of Fashion Division- Rudolf) 4. Maurizio Donadi (Co-Founder – Atelier & Repairs) 5. Carlos Arias (CEO- Jeanologia) 6. Stefano Aldighieri( President – Another Design Studio)
The talk was moderated by Sandeep Agarwal and Stefano Aldighieri . We now bring the comments of the panelists of our key questions related to denim industry in a series of six articles with each article giving clear views of each panelist.
In the current article, we bring the thoughts of Ablerto De conti – head of fashion division Rudolf from from LA. We share his original comments on some of the questions that were put to him during the discussion . (video of his talk is here )
WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD FOR DENIM?
This question made me really uncomfortable because forecasting is very difficult especially when it involves the future. Right before getting into this call, we had another call with my director of the company who is trying to figure out what to do for the rest of 2020 and how is this going to look like and that was not an easy exercise at all.
I think the only intelligent way to try and forecast the future is to observe the present . This season is more difficult. What I see is that the epidemic is being a reality check for a critical mass of people in many difficult ways.
I feel personal values will be shifted and in some cases people after a couple of months to lockdown have realized that one can really live with much less. We’re going back to basically what we were saying before.
Now I don’t really want to go down and negatively speak about it. In addition, we need 20-30 million newly employed people in the USA as they lost the jobs. I’m thinking rationally. I really don’t think that buying jeans with the latest trends and washes is necessarily going to be at the top of everybody’s mind.
If we know the history of our beloved blue friends ,that denim has always supported the needs of the society. Denim is considered as one of the symbols of rebellion in the past during the 60’s and 70’s and not as a fashion statement. Now, the way forward with the denim industry if you ask me is being able to re-look what citizens really need from them.
Sustainability remains one of major importance and there are Titans in industry represented here by Jeanologia, Candiani who have done monumental work on sustainability. Sustainability today is a ticket to play, it’s more of an expectation from consumers that has been a reason to buy.
I tell you one story. Our production in Germany of chemical auxiliaries is booked throughout July for this year for the production of auxiliaries for textile to provide functionality, not fashion. And to me that’s a big thing.
WHAT ARE THE 3 KEY THINGS DENIM INDUSTRY NEEDS TO DO?
From our perspectives as a chemical company we are really low in the food chain, the last guys of the book.From our perspective what we feel is that there is an overall lack of vision and I would say not necessarily throughout the value chain. Sometimes there is a rush to go to the market when the season is coming and you don’t necessarily think or look at the whole picture, really trying to go to market in a way that someone can approve it.
But if I have to think of the three things that right now the industry should focus on well what could be done with the massive inventory that is in the warehouses around the world which can not be used before the next season over years. There should be a clear priority and I really hope that you know efforts are being made there in order to understand what can be done. Then the second because fast fashion completely drew the consumer towards the commodity world, and because once again to a commodity world, you really are not adding any value.
There should be a focus on the new found law for quality longer lasting products and better product design which is what we were you know talking about and then that requires a fundamental revolution within brands and retailers.
And then the third that there should be focused on is , there are way too many suppliers and customers of ours that are suffering and lead to bankruptcy because of questionable commercial behaviors. I think the industry in the entire world needs to focus on ethics that are real which are sometimes missing.
There should be some ethics and there should be some enforcement program. I don’t know exactly how the transformer foundation led by Andrew Ola is really working out but I can tell you that there are ideas we put in place.
And for the industry, to resolve programs with mediation and I think something needs to be done in that area, otherwise the entire value chain is going to suffer and we are going to lose an incredible part. So, this would be my three areas to focus on.
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