Maybe it’s a sign of getting older or a coping mechanism for weathering unpredictable times, but I’m nothing if not a sucker for tradition. Seeing school supplies stock store shelves each August leaves me smiling with excitement. Though I’m a vegetarian, a Thanksgiving spread sans glistening, golden-brown turkey would just be any old Thursday-night dinner. So it goes without saying that I was enthralled with all the pomp, circumstance and pageantry swirling around Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
This fondness for rituals is also why I’m drawn to denim. Like the Queen, blue jeans have been a reliable, familiar and—if they’re made well—steadfast place in our lives. Denim’s day-to-day impact may often go unnoticed, but its absence would alter the fabric of the apparel sector, puncture parts of agriculture and rewrite some of pop culture’s most memorable moments. I’m certainly not alone in appreciating denim’s enduring qualities, as many of this year’s Rivet 50 honorees (pg. 28) are on a mission to improve and preserve what is arguably fashion’s most iconic fabric.
While the industry’s progressive leaders are united in replacing harmful, wasteful production techniques with more admirable alternatives, they also refuse to compromise denim’s authentic look. In “Generation Regeneration” (pg. 66), mills and brands share how they are supporting a new era of regenerative farming by rolling up their sleeves and getting down and dirty with the science of soil health. In “Spin Cycle” (pg. 72), fiber manufacturers unpack the nitty-gritty details of what it takes to convert recycled content into jeans that look and feel like they’re made from virgin sources. Meanwhile, zero-waste designers (“Waste Not” pg. 79) are shining a spotlight on one of fashion’s oldest traditions: patternmaking.
After seasons of—dare I say—garish Y2K trends, classic fits and traditional washes are emerging as something of a palate cleanser this fall. In “C’est la beauté” (pg. 54), the fashion team curates a swoon-worthy women’s wardrobe. One denim genre that’s unlikely to ever buck tradition is Western and rodeo, which is riding a revival of popular relevance. In “Rodeo Stars” (pg. 50), category leaders discuss how they balance performance with authenticity. Traditional retail is also bouncing back after unprecedented ecommerce growth. In “Open for Business” (pg. 25), leading denim brands explain why they’re seizing the moment to open new doors in the U.S. and abroad.
While I never want to see the denim industry regress, I hope this issue serves as a reminder of the lessons to be learned from valuing the past.
Click here to download the digital issue. For my fellow traditionalists, get a print copy of the issue at Kingpins Amsterdam, Oct. 19-20.