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Catching Up with Adriano Goldschmied

There’s no shortage of denim projects on Adriano Goldschmied’s plate.

The denim savant is working on a collaboration with Original Penguin by Munsingwear, a partnership with Amazon and the U.S. revival of Edwin Jeans, to name just a few.

Rivet caught up with denim’s busiest man at Liberty in Las Vegas last week to get a pulse on what he sees trending in the denim market. For one, the industry appears to be in the midst of change.

On denim trends
The denim market is in the throws of several denim revivals happening at once, and it’s been a benefit for the sector when it comes to interest and innovation. The latest batch of Fall ’18 runway shows alone have been a hodgepodge of revisited Western styling, retro sherpa-lined truckers and cloudy washes.

“Denim is having a good time,” Goldschmied said. “It is a very good time in fashion denim, it’s on the runway and that means it is [attracting] attention.”

It’s also a prime time for brands to amplify their sustainability and transparency messaging.

“Consumers are interested in a story,” according to Goldschmied. “It’s not how it existed in the past when consumers were fit and price focused. Today, brands have to have a story—share where its products are coming from and how it’s manufactured—because consumers are paying attention.”

Consumers’ access to information has changed how they shop. And few brands have latched on to this shift as well as Everlane. The ethically-minded company has set a new standard, Goldschmied said, by speaking directly to the consumer. The company’s “radical transparency” model shares with consumers the true costs behind all of its products, from labor to transportation. “These are big changes, but they’re positive and they are game-changers in the industry,” he said.

Now, Goldschmied said, the big players in the market are realizing they need to be sustainable to sell more and stay relevant.

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“In China in 2000, no one cared about pollution, but it’s a different point of view today,” he added. “The problem is not solved, but it’s getting there and now there is more attention.”

On denim retail
The function of the retail store has changed, according to Goldschmied.

“There’s no question that e-commerce and the digital world are taking over the business—that’s already happened. But online businesses are struggling without a physical connection,” he said. “Traditional retail and online have to find a better connection.”

Goldschmied named New York City-based Kith as an example of the best of both worlds. “There’s a line out their door because they have a great mix of products, they speak directly to the customer and it has an interesting online business,” he said.

On his latest projects
Goldschmied’s Los Angeles-based Genious Group studio is behind two of the most buzzed about collections in denim’s recent history—Amazon’s private label denim line, Hale, and Edwin Jeans’ North American relaunch.

With Amazon, Goldschmied said the goal was to create a product for a “super sophisticated operation.” But it’s still about the denim and how it resonates with consumers for Goldschmied. “When we evaluate our work, we look at how many stars are given in reviews. We don’t care about units.”

Ratings and comments are proving to be an enormous advantage in the new retail world. “You don’t get stars in wholesale. You don’t know if people like your product. It’s a gray area,” he added.

Adding to that, however, Goldschmied puts stock in what Amazon is doing. “Amazon is the future. It is no accident that they are No. 1 at understanding what customers want,” he said.

In some ways, Goldschmied said Edwin is the exact opposite of Amazon. The brand’s values are based on its heritage design, and though those values alone aren’t enough for business today, they can be adjusted to fit a modern story.

For Edwin’s relaunch, Goldschmied said the key consideration was to bring quality fabrics and washes to modern fits for the U.S. market. The Japanese brand had sophisticated washes down pat, but fit had remained a challenge.

“To bring together that combination of washes, fabrics and fit, and cook it in the right way is the secret to Edwin’s success,” Goldschmied said.

On denim’s digital evolution
Goldschmied’s studio is focused on developing the right product for the right consumer, but the denim expert is eager to share his experiences, educate the industry’s next generation and develop digital tools that will make denim a more sustainable and efficient business.

“In the ’90s, we thought creativity and our artistic approach was key to our success, and it was, to be honest. But we forgot that our world was going digital. The process of how we make products is just as important as how we design,” he said. “In the ’90s, we looked at technology as something that would make our designs flat and similar. We didn’t realize technology could accelerate and bring creativity to a higher level.”

That’s one reason Goldschmied said he’s interested in MYR, an easy-to-use software that produces original looks in high definition and quality, and acts as a digital portal for the entire denim supply chain. Goldschmied is also a strategic business partner with MYR.

“The technology closes the circle in our industry and connects suppliers, laundries and designers—groups that normally don’t have a lot of connection,” he said.

With the technology, Goldschmied said designers can get smarter about business.

“The market demands speed, quality and service and the only way to adapt to these changes is to organize our work,” he said. “Technology was our enemy in the ’90s and it’s our best friend today.”