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Mavi Exec Reflects on Brand’s 30th Anniversary

Mavi, which means “blue” in Turkish, has stayed true to its meaning and its mission to produce quality men’s and women’s jeans since it launched 30 years ago in Istanbul.

The denim industry’s definition of “quality,” however, has evolved into one that prioritizes sustainable production methods, enduring designs and opportunities to give back to people and the planet. Mavi has stepped up to the challenge with lifestyle collections made with organic cotton, pre-consumer recycled cotton, Tencel and water-saving wash techniques. The company’s annual Indigo Turtle Project tees support the Ecological Research Society’s efforts to protect endangered sea turtles, and its first Pride collection launched this summer benefitting two LGBTQI charitable organizations, the U.S.-based Ali Forney Center, and Canada-based Egale Canada.

With 4,500 points of sale in 33 countries, Mavi has touchpoints to share these stories and more across various consumer demographics. The brand’s next collection for Spring/Summer 2022 is its most sustainable to date with a wider selection of fabrics made with recycled cotton, organic cotton and Tencel. It is also an example of how the brand is responding to consumer demand for new fits. Balloon, tapered and wide-leg jeans, as well as oversized shackets are among the Gen Z-oriented styles.

Here, Arkun Durmaz, president of Mavi North America, reflects on the lessons learned during Mavi’s first 30 years and what’s next as it settles into a more sustainable future.

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Arkun Durmaz, president of Mavi North America, reflects on the lessons learned during the denim brand's first 30 years and what’s next.
Arkun Durmaz, president of Mavi North America Courtesy

Rivet: How is Mavi’s 2021 going so far compared to 2020?

Arkun Durmaz: 2021 has been a strong year for us. Sales are comparable to 2019 and we are on track for exceeding our original targets.

Rivet: How have the values of Mavi’s consumers evolved during the past 30 years?

AD: Mavi’s fit, comfort, and quality are at the heart of every fan, new or old. But it’s our efforts to responsibly manage our environmental footprint and social impact that’s driving new interest and loyalty.

Rivet: How is the brand marking its 30th anniversary?

AD: We continue to expand our All Blue collection: denim that’s made from organic, recycled, and plant-based fabrics and fibers like Tencel, using the cleanest processes that consume less water and less energy. All Blue is also the global strategy that is driving the brand forward with a deep-rooted respect for people, nature, and innovation.

Rivet: What is your outlook for denim sales in the U.S. versus overseas?

AD: Mavi denim sales are strong globally, and we are seeing a high demand for our latest silhouettes for women.

Rivet: What has been the biggest game-changer in Mavi’s 30-year history, and why?

AD: Over our 30-year history, technology has paved the way for cleaner production, better materials, smarter use of resources, and a data-rich culture to support decision making across all parts of our business.

Rivet: What qualities do you look for in suppliers?

AD: The most important quality is that our partners are consistent, innovative, and able to meet our standards of sustainability.

Rivet: Mavi has 4,500 points of sale worldwide. Which market is the most adventurous when it comes to trying new trends? And which shows the most interest in sustainability?

AD: With over 400 corporate stores, our Turkish customers are probably most adventurous when it comes to new trends, and I would say that most of our customers worldwide seem extremely interested in sustainability.

Arkun Durmaz, president of Mavi North America, reflects on the lessons learned during the denim brand's first 30 years and what’s next.
Mavi Courtesy

Rivet: There’s a lot of buzz about consumers’ new preference for looser fitting jeans. Is Mavi seeing this shift?

AD: Absolutely and in a big way. Skinny jeans will always be a wardrobe staple, but the popularity for these wider, more relaxed silhouettes started very early and we are seeing a strong demand for it. We’ve met the trend and have seen great success with our higher-rise voluminous and relaxed styles in our sustainable All Blue fabrics, which give a true denim look in ’90s inspired washes.

Our strongest performers include the Barcelona, a vintage inspired wide-leg jean with a high rise that fits through the hip and thigh and widens at the knee to a cropped, unfinished hem; the Soho is our high rise girlfriend that contours at the hip with a slim straight leg that tapers at the knee; the Luna is our retro ’80s balloon fit with a contoured high rise that hugs the waist and curves dramatically through the legs; and the Victoria high rise features a slim fit through the hips and gradual flare into a wide leg with a raw hem.

Rivet: What do you think are some the jeanswear trends that will be popular in 2022?

AD: The momentum for wider and looser silhouettes in vintage and ’90s washes will continue to be a top trend as will the demand for denim that feels good enough to live in. You’ll see these styles paired with fabrics that offer comfort in a rigid look, and flares and bootcuts will also find their way back to the forefront. For men’s, textured secondary fabrics for will remain in demand.

Consumers will continue to call on—and call out—brands to move their sustainability efforts forward and there will be more of a targeted focus on products designed using not only the best materials, but also the most ethical processes, for the planet.

Rivet: Regarding sustainability, what’s next for Mavi?

AD: The global team is currently working on a sustainability self-assessment, and road map for short-and long-term sustainability goals.

Rivet: In what ways is the company the same as it was 30 years ago?

AD: Beyond being laser focused on quality, Mavi continues to be a work home for our team members, not just a place to work.

This article appears in Rivet’s Winter 2021 digital issue. Click here to read the entire issue.