Blue of a Kind’s unofficial catchphrase is “The product with the lowest impact on the environment is the one that already exists.”
This Italian denim brand, located in downtown Milan, specializes in creating new and interesting styles out of the old and discarded, sourcing all of its denim from vintage stock to create one-of-a-kind, handmade jeans.
“It all began in 2014, when I was working as a brand manager for a famous Italian denim company,” says Fabrizio Consoli, founder and CEO of Blue of a Kind. “Environmental issues were already there, maybe they were just perceived less urgent than they are today. I started brainstorming whether it could have been possible to work exclusively reutilizing worn jeans.”
Consoli says he let the idea sit inside of him for some time before he decided to do something about it. Eventually, he quit his job with the famous Italian denim company and started to write down what he thought the brand should have been, had he been in charge.
“A year later I met with our designer, a great professional in the denim world as well as a friend, I told her what I was after and what you see now online is the result of her interpretation of my initial thought,” he said.
Inspired by Maison Margiela, Duchamp, Hedi Slimane, Stephen Klein, Vetements and even Picasso, Blue of a Kind denim takes its cues from a “post-modern cultural sphere” that looks to be contemporary while simultaneously reimagining what has already worked. You can actually see the Picasso influences in the Leonia Cropped style, which stitches together two shades of indigo to create contrast, or in the stacked look of the Dorothea Wide-Leg.
Consoli says creativity is all about reinterpretation.
“Beware of those who claim they sit in front of a blank paper waiting for inspiration: inspiration is out there, in everything.”
Rivet got together with Consoli to discuss what sets his brand apart and what he would like to see from the denim industry, and the world, in the future.
Rivet: You say “the world doesn’t need another fashion company,” what would you like to be instead?
Fabrizio Consoli: We prefer to look at ourselves as a movement to promote a different point of view on fashion. We put our best effort into producing the best quality upcycled garments: still, we believe such garments should be seen as a vehicle rather than the endpoint of a selling process.
Rivet: What are some of the challenges of creating products exclusively with leftovers and surplus?
FC: There are a number of challenges we face on a daily basis. Just to mention the most relevant two: on the production side, sourcing and, generally speaking, availability of what is, to us, “raw” material is always an issue. Vintage garments we source date from the 70s to the 90s, therefore style, waist, raise, color, as well as weight (and therefore thickness) of the fabric can vary significantly. In order to guarantee high standards for our products we need to neutralize such differences, and this creates a certain bottleneck effect. This is one of the reasons why our production will always be limited.
On the sales side, it is true that people are open to buying sustainable products, however, this unfortunately happens most of the time on condition that such products cost not more than less-sustainable ones. This not necessarily has to be taken as bad news: we’d rather see this as an intermediate step in the path to understanding that paying a higher price for green products means including in your shopping bag some immaterial and precious assets—like a better world.
Rivet: How do you source your vintage denim?
FC: Sourcing, for us, is part of the creative process. We travel Europe to visit big collection centers where vintage denim is stocked and we literally “dive” into mountains of clothes to pull out the most interesting pieces. Often this is the part where we get enlightened by unexpected items we find, even though we were not looking for those: and we start thinking, “We could definitely do something with this…”
Rivet: What are some of your best-selling styles?
FC: Our range of jeans goes from slim ones to most comfortable fits. We tend to be stronger on wider fits, however as we always say the best fit is the one that we haven’t designed yet!
Rivet: You also say, “the product with the lowest impact on the environment is the one that already exists.” After your success creating this business model for denim, do you see other industries that could benefit from this mindset?
FC: Yes, I believe this is not only possible but also one of the master ways to rethink our future. Working on existing products is somehow the core of the circular economy. Let’s stop for a second, thinking to the world of “special” motorbikes that has unfolded in the last decade, old bikes reshaped to become unique pieces loved by connoisseurs and not: isn’t this the perfect example of how creativity can help to rethink the existing? Of course, here we deal with engines producing air pollution, which opens a completely different set of environmental problems, however, I am sure you get the point.
Rivet: In your opinion, what should the denim industry look like in 10 years?
FC: It should reduce and eventually quit industrial washings and, generally speaking, all those processes that include harmful chemicals and water waste. I believe the answer should be for brands to have a deeper control overarching every single phase of their production process, from cotton used to packing and shipping. This way they could be able to minimize their overall impact. Laser, for instance, is a great way to reduce water usage.
Rivet: What do you want people to remember about your brand?
FC: I would like Blue of a Kind to be recognized as a brand able to reconcile style with sustainability: undoubtedly people want to reduce their impact on the environment, but we must always remember that nobody wants to buy a jean that doesn’t fit well or that is not aesthetically pleasing. At the end of the day, dressing is primarily a way to tell something about oneself.
Rivet: What has been the most effective way to communicate your message to the end consumer?
FC: Relevance and repetition are the rails to deliver your message. You must believe in what you stand for enough to sound credible. And to indulge again and again in waving your belief to the end consumer.