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How an All-American Denim Maker Promotes ‘Blue-Collar Consciousness’

Rivet's 2020 Denim Circularity report takes a deep dive into how the global denim industry is plotting its circular future amidst a worldwide pandemic.

Leave it to Eric Herm, who is equal parts farmer, poet, musician and businessman, to tell a story with his denim.

Herm is a fourth-generation farmer from Ackerly, Texas, who prioritized conscious living and consumption long before society’s push for sustainability. After years of managing his family-owned farm and watching other companies turn a larger profit on its cotton, he decided to launch a new venture: conscious denim made in America.

“With cotton, our per-acre income wasn’t enough to make it anymore on a yearly basis. We knew we had to evolve on the farm to make it financially,” he said. “We got this crazy idea to start our own clothing business to tell the entire story from seed to final product, and doing it all in America.”

In November, Herm and his wife Jennie—whose background includes sewing and design—launched the Allred Farms online shop, which offers locally made sustainable denim items such as heirloom quilts, throw pillows, potholders, cloth napkins and other household necessities. Products feature indigo, white and chambray denim—all of which are often woven into each product.

All designs are created in celebration of nature and life on the farm and tell a story of their own.

Allred Farms’ Eric Herm explains how his Made in America denim could be the sustainable solution the fashion industry is searching for.

Allred Farms heirloom quilt

“Who better to sell you meaningful, high-quality clothing than the people who planted its seed and nurtured it into fruition physically, intellectually and spiritually?” Herm said.

It’s this emphasis on mindfulness that helped transform the company from a cash crop to an ethical business—one that Herm believes can change the world.

“We’re not just trying to make a profit; we are making a genuine shift of consciousness about what a family farm and business can be,” he said.

While this concept taps into the industry-wide shift toward tighter and more sustainable supply chains, Allred Farms’ responsible product line was five years in the making. The farm exclusively uses organic and non-GMO seed across its cotton, wheat, barley, hemp and garden crops. The cotton is then ginned and spun in North Carolina. Herm and his sons, along with one full-time farm hand, work the 1,300 acres of fields. Jennie, in partnership with two local seamstresses, manages product design.

Allred Farms follows the ethos of “blue collar consciousness,” a term Herm and his wife coined and defined as “hard work with a greater purpose; knowing all things are connected and what we do with our own farming and business not only affects our local community, but the rest of the world.”

He hopes to spread this message through his brand and personal lifestyle choices. It’s also the driving force behind his published works, which include books on agriculture—and even a collection of poems, entitled “I Am the Tumbleweed.”

The duo set their sights on opening a store in Marfa, Texas, before COVID-19 forced them to pause those plans indefinitely. Instead, the brand shifted to making protective face masks from its organic cotton denim and making sure its seamstresses remained employed. The brand donated three masks for every three-piece set sold, and donated 35 percent of all online sales to the West Texas Food Bank.

While the company waits for the world to return to normal, the team is working on a line of quilted denim clothing and work wear, which is currently in production.

“It has been an education process for us,” said Herm. “We continue to learn as we go.”

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