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.
Reagan Marelle Begley, a social media whiz and owner of repurposed denim brand Hargan Denim, discusses the unique qualities of denim that make her a blue blood through and through.
Describe your current job.
Reagan Marelle Begley: I currently work as the social media and community manager at For Days and I am a part-time content creator and owner at Hargan Denim. At Hargan, I do everything from social, marketing, sourcing, and production, to photography, accounting and designing. It is a one-woman show that has taught me some of the hardest and best lessons in life, continually shaping me into being the best version of myself that I can be.
What drew you to the denim industry?
RMB: The story that one pair of jeans can hold. From the hands that made it, to the person who wears it, one pair of jeans can hold thousands of memories, and in a true vintage pair of jeans, it can show it. Because of the durability of a good pair of jeans, the generations it can get passed through is heartening.
What is your first denim memory?
RMB: In fashion design school, I created my first pair of jeans for my patterning class final. I don’t know what it was, but something about this twill fabric—maybe the shades of blue; the story that one pair of jeans can hold; or the structure—made me fall in love. Designing my first pair of repurposed jeans was completely unintentional. When patterning, it is best to use a sturdy fabric that holds shape so the fit is most accurate. When using fabric with stretch, it can be hard because of the movement—it doesn’t hold its shape when fitting. I was patterning a pair of pants, and being the broke college student I was, I didn’t have any money to spare on fabric, so I cut up old jeans knowing that the structure of denim had no stretch. To my surprise, they actually ended up being the coolest pair of pants.
Since working in denim, has anything surprised you about the denim industry?
RMB: Mostly all of it. I definitely was a fast-fashion consumer that didn’t know the impact fashion had on the world, much less anything about global warming. After falling in love with denim design, I applied for the denim program at FIDM in Los Angeles, where I got my advanced degree specifically in denim. They start out teaching us about the industry with sustainability at the forefront, because only the young are going to change it. So, sustainable denim is all I really know.
What are your short- and long-term goals for the industry?
RMB: Short-term, to begin to implement change; to slow down and bring back the value to denim. Long-term, to be able to still endlessly design denim without harming the planet. Sustainability within the fashion industry is hard, especially because we are so used to how fashion has been produced. Changing our ways will take time.
Which brands or supply chain partners do you look up to, and why?
RMB: I admire all brands that are making an effort to change. Even if it’s little, a step in the right direction is better than no step at all.
What do you think the denim industry will learn from the pandemic?
RMB: Less is more. From a business perspective, I think we have seen that things can still function with less. From a consumer perspective, we are getting dressed up less, but doing so in a much more intentional way.
What advice do you have for other young people in the industry?
RMB: You can do anything you set your mind to with a little hard work, and you will always fail more times than you succeed. But I promise, even if it is one in every million times that you succeed, that one time will make all the millions of mistakes worth it. Don’t give up on the things you are trying to accomplish, especially if the end goal is only coming from good intent.
What will be the biggest impact that young people will have on the denim industry in the future?
RMB: The creativity and innovation. This generation thinks like no other. From one category of artists to the next, you see younger kids no longer being afraid to express themselves and work together. And everything is better when working together.