The denim industry is in mourning after learning Jose “Pepe” Vidal Royo died on Nov. 30, at the age of 85.
Alongside his nephew Enrique Silla, Royo co-founded denim finishing technology company Jeanologia in 1994, spearheading what would eventually become a milestone in sustainable laser technology. Today, the company has more than 1,000 customers across five continents and is responsible for 35 percent of the world’s jeans production.
Jeanologia is celebrated for its innovations in eco-friendly technologies including the first ozone washer, the e-flow nano bubble technology, Dynamic Ozone for fabric, and EIM software that has since become the world standard environmental measurement tool for denim.
“His early dreams of a more respectful and sustainable industry are now coming true,” Jeanologia said in a statement.
Royo got an early start in the denim industry, having launched his career within the family business, Spanish fabric manufacturer Tejidos Royo. During his time there, he was credited for expanding the company internationally and transforming it into a “worldwide reference for denim and sustainability.”
“I started working with Pepe at a very young age, and I had the privilege to have him as mentor,” said Silla. “He always believed in people and transferred his passion and commitment while creating a new business culture.”
Royo was also an early champion of sustainable fibers. In the ‘90s, he actively promoted the use of Tencel, which has since revolutionized denim shirting as well as the soft jean concept.
His passion for creating a better world led him to launch the “The Friends of Rimkieta Foundation,” an organization dedicated to improving living conditions for women and children of Rimkieta, a neighborhood in West Africa. There, Royo helped build wells and set up handlooms and traditional dyeing with natural indigo.
“Pepe had a huge heart; he leaves a big vacuum,” said Carmen Silla, Jeanologia’s marketing director. “Today, he has undoubtedly become part of the blue legend.”