Innovation and transparency are key to denim’s future, according to Nicolas Prophte, vice president of the global denim center at PVH Corp.
“You have to be bulletproof,” Prophte said on a Kingpins24 virtual session last week. “We need to make sure that what we measure and claim is the reality. We have a third-party verification process that we can ensure what we say and feel we are doing is reality.”
Among the challenges in the denim industry today, Prophte said, are the need to accelerate innovation to meet the complexities of today’s consumer, and to create sustainable value and social responsibility in the supply chain.
“For me, it’s really two main things,” he said. “The first is the environmental and social impact the industry has on the planet and the people working in this industry. We also have to adapt the knowledge we have in terms of sustainable design and sourcing. At PVH, we try to tackle these things in a very holistic way and collaboration between our partners is very important.”
Specifically, Prophte said PVH, which counts Calvin Klein Jeans and Tommy Hilfiger Jeans among its brands, has focused on the company’s denim products’ impact on the laundry process, putting in place metrics to follow and update seasonally. The company has also addressed circularity with its post-consumer cotton project involving its mill partners.
He noted that there is a degree of “greenwashing,” or false claims about sustainability, made by brands in their advertising and marketing.
“For PVH, we need to be cautious and very careful that everything we claim has to be bulletproof,” Prophte said. “We are not here to fool the consumer. We need to stop the greenwashing and embrace the communication we have with the consumer. Before the greenwashing, we need to prevent ‘bluewashing’–the claims between the industry and the brands. There are a lot of claims being made about what is sustainable.” Mills often “bluewash” by making eco claims to entice brands without being able to back up their assertions.
He said there needs to be an alliance of validity along the supply chain that can then translate accurately to the consumer, who doesn’t necessarily understand all the certifications and labels relating to environmental and social compliance claims. These, he added, must be simple and straightforward.
Prophte said brands have to find a way to communicate to consumers the attributes of the denim product, the way it was manufactured and what material was used in a way that is appealing and easy to digest.