Stronger together was the unofficial theme for The Women in Denim’s first meeting in New York City last week to mark International Women’s Day.
Women representing denim mills, fiber companies, designers, journalists and more gathered at Artistic Milliner’s SoHo showroom to share their experiences working in the jeans industry.
Founded by Lucie Germser, the owner of the newlyminted creative consultancy, Sphynx, The Women in Denim has evolved from its origins as a panel topic at the Munich trade show Bluezone, to becoming a global network for female denim designers, executives and influencers to exchange ideas and promote their work.
Along with a LinkedIn group, The Women in Denim has an Instagram account that highlights female leaders in the space.
“It’s so good to share our stories because it makes you feel stronger,” Germser said of the roundtable discussion.
For Germser, the initiative is personal. Throughout her career working for skate and surf brands, she said she’s seen women’s ideas and achievements take a back seat to those of their male colleagues. “It’s society, but together we can re-educate everybody and make a change,” she said.
Those sentiments were echoed by many of the women in attendance. Michelle Branch, founder of the creative firm Markt & Twigs, shared how being a young woman of color in a male-dominated industry forced her to be persistent and exceed expectations.
“I was young, female and black,” she said of her early experiences in the denim. “It was a triple-whammy so it took a lot of proving myself.”
And others shared how they are helping encourage the next generation of women. Courage and perseverance are qualities that denim artist and educator Holly Brown promotes in her classroom at an all-girls school in New York.
“What I try to instill is resilience and confidence—and it’s something that we really have to teach,” she said. “I don’t allow the words ‘I can’t’ in my classroom.”
The New York event was supported by Bluezone, Tencel and Artistic Milliners. Up next, Germser said she would like to take the talk to Istanbul.
“If we want to make things happen, we have to work together,” she said.