Like any business that has been around for more than a century, the jeanswear industry has its legends. It is also continuously reinventing itself and welcoming more opportunities for innovation—and oftentimes, it takes a fresh perspective to make real change. Rivet’s Denim Minds Under 30 column shines a spotlight on young professionals committed to pushing the denim industry forward, paying special mind to the planet and its people.
In this Q&A, Beril Karabiyik, senior designer at Ereks’ Blue Matters, a sustainable jeans washing platform in Turkey, describes the circular design she’s helping to create for the denim industry.
Describe your current job.
Beril Karabiyik: I have been working as a senior designer at Ereks, Era, Blue Matters [Blue Matters is a green production facility established by denim and garment producers Ereks and Era] for five years. My team supports the sales and marketing team for product design and development and prepares collections based on the specific needs of our clients. We are currently working on a collection that’s part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign project.
What drew you to the denim industry?
BK: I was first attracted to denim’s rich history. It’s inspiring to see it as a journey that started with worker pants and has evolved to become a universally favored garment. To be a part of the denim world—where fabric techniques, washes and trends are constantly changing—forces me to learn something new every day and keeps me alive.
What is your first denim memory?
BK: My first denim memory was witnessing the laundry process and seeing fabrics’ reactions to different chemicals. It was all very shocking to me.
Since working in denim, has anything surprised you about the industry?
BK: Although I am in love with the denim business, when I realized that this industry is one of the most polluting, I was very disappointed. I’m glad that I have the chance to be working for a platform that focuses on responsible denim production.
What are your short- and long-term goals for the industry? How are you doing your part?
BK: My short-term goal is to design according to a circular business model. The Blue Matters/Çorlu Responsible Production Platform [a fully integrated green production facility complete with customized denim washing technology] gives me the chance to achieve this goal.
Long-term, I’d like to push all of our current and future clients to circular business model. Current events are showing us that there is no other planet, and responsible production is our only option for a sustainable world where we minimize our waste and stop pollution.
Which brands or supply-chain partners do you look up to?
BK: My favorite is Stella McCartney, who has practiced sustainability for a very long time. Her collections and projects are always very inspiring and eye-opening for me. From a denim perspective, Reformation, Mud Jeans and Re/Done are my other favorites, and I would love to work with them.
What do you think the denim industry will learn from the pandemic?
BK: Our awareness about the world’s resources, the importance of even one free breath and being with our loved ones are what’s most important for all of us now. Beyond that, we have realized the importance of sustainability and we now understand that we need to change our habits.
What advice do you have for other young people in the industry?
BK: They should know that learning will always be a part of this journey, and it will never end. Young designers should be open to create new things with the knowledge they have gained. Adapting to the digitalized world and reflecting this in their developments is very important.
What will be the biggest impact that young people will have on the denim industry in the future?
BK: I believe awareness will be top priority with the help of digitalization and technology. I strongly believe the younger generations will create a more livable world with this awareness.