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This Brand Says Perfection is an Overrated Quality for Sustainable Denim

Even a Swedish fast fashion brand targeting Gen Z consumers understands that sustainability is a shared responsibility. And for Weekday, sustainability also sparks creativity.

At Denim Première Vision in Milan last week, Johan Ekman, Weekday’s expert in responsible denim development, talked shop and shared how the brand is using yarns from fiber producer, Recover, in new denim collections that have a look all their own.

“Sustainability” and “fun” are often not part of the same vocabulary, but that shouldn’t be the case, Ekman says. “In my daily work, we are always trying to find new fun ways to work with sustainability when it comes to denim,” he said.

Derived from pre- and post-consumer denim garments and organic cotton, Recover’s upcycled yarns produce low-impact fabrics that since 2018 have saved 43.4 billion liters of water, 4.3 million PET bottles and 3.2 million kg of pollutants. The yarn requires no additional dyeing—a characteristic that caught Ekman’s attention.

The appeal of creating a collection using Recover, Ekman said, was to be able to present a product made with 100 percent recycled material that also didn’t require any additional dyeing. “It felt like a very unique way to present a new sustainable material,” he said.

Weekday introduced the Recover fabrics—one bottom weight and one shirting weight—in Spring ’19 with a limited-edition collection of modern workwear pieces like cargo pants and shorts, overalls and a long apron dress. The collection, which was priced higher than Weekday’s regular line, sold out, which Ekman says confirms customers are ready to accept different products.

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Recover jeans
Weekday denim made with Recover yarns. Courtesy

And the popularity of the collection makes a valid case against those brands and designers that believe sustainable products must look like traditional denim in order to be successful.

For the Recover collection, Ekman sought to make a product that didn’t blend in with the rest of the denim market. Without any hard expectations, he began trial runs of the Recover yarn with Bangladesh-based mill, Shasha Denim. He modified the Recover yarns by replacing virgin polyester with recycled polyester—a move that reinforced the brand’s goal to be a 100 percent sustainability sourced by 2030.

The experiment paid off. Ekman said the first samples had uneven color and looked “odd” and “neppy.”

“It was perfect for me because that was my goal—to present to the consumer that a denim product may not always need to look like how you predicted,” he said. “In the future, you’re view of a pair of jeans may need to be different because we need to change how we work with a product. The fabric looks different because it is different. And it’s something unique.”