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5 Ways to Brand Denim In the Future

When it’s deliver-or-die, supply chains become the lifeblood of a company. To that end, the fashion industry has embraced technology to navigate today’s hyper-complicated supply chain, with myriad solutions shaping the first, middle and last mile. Call it Sourcing 2.0.

Technology has altered the way denim is made, sold and performs. Isn’t it time for technology to change the way denim is branded? That’s the question posed by WHY by Kingpins co-founder Kris Dumon at the inaugural denim branding show in Amsterdam, April 13-14.

Dumon, alongside Nick Williams, owner of the U.K.-based design collective 4th Avenue and the former Levi’s head of graphics in Europe, highlighted five ways technology can elevate denim branding during a seminar titled, “Branding 101: Past, Present and Future Branding.”

The purpose of branding components have stayed relatively unchanged since Levi’s added its red tab to jeans in the 1930s, however Dumon and Williams have pieced together a future for branding to match the fast pace at which the rest of the market is moving.

Print Lives

With the use of 3-D printers, designers can ask for lowers minimums to create highly specialized trims. Want a skull-shaped button? A 3-D printer can do it. Need a replacement button? Send a request for a replacement part to the 3-D printer via an app. Or, consider how buttons can be more functional. Dumon suggested start with creating a button that holds headphone cords in place.

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Connect With Your Jeans

Williams said current trends call for point-of-sale labels to be tactile (i.e. embossed paper or screen-printed scrap material), but Dumon sees a more interactive future with the introduction of near field communication. The technology, which operates through short radio signals, can link shoppers’ smartphones to jean brands’ websites. There, the consumer would have access to where and how the jean is made, styling tips or be able to view the complete collection.

Wire Up

From the lowercase ‘e’ on Levi’s red tab to the random placement of woven handwriting and shapes, Williams said denim brands have become well-versed in finding creative and subtle ways to combat counterfeits. The future of woven branding, however, will call for more technical tactics. Dumon said the denim market should look at the athletic market for inspiration. Micro-printing that enlarges with a smartphone can be used to confirm authenticity, meanwhile threads wired with LED lights can become an invaluable feature for bikers.

Patches With Purpose

Levi’s leather patch was originally intended to list product information. Today, the patch has become a symbol and personality of a brand, spanning embossed and tattooed details to hand-painted designs. The next generation of patches, Dumon said, will move away from leather toward more minimal and functional concepts, including heat transfers, woven labels, printed patches and reflective patches for commuter jeans.

In The Bag

Pocket bag branding was originally a denim brand’s “guarantee” to the consumer that it was the real deal, Williams said. Today, brands continue to recreate historical designs on pocket bags with screen printing and heat transfers. While they may serve the same purpose in the future, Dumon said pocket bags will take on a more futuristic appearance with iridescent and metallic heat transfers and all over prints. “You just have to look at the high street trends to see that people want prints for a more personalized look,” he added.