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Rivet 50 Radio: Baris Ozden

Baris Ozden is one of the driving forces behind many “firsts” at textile manufacturer Isko. Throughout his 23 years at the company, he’s watched Isko become the first mill to achieve both EU Ecolabel and Nordic Swan Ecolabel status for its lowest impact denim collection and witnessed jeggings—a product first created by Isko—become a universal fashion trend that just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

And he continues to work with his team on innovations in denim.

As a product development manager who follows and interprets market trends and provides technical support to sales and marketing teams, his job, he said, is to “see trends before they come.” That involves taking an analytical eye to the streets of L.A., Tokyo, London and New York City, and studying the most creative looks on the street.

“If [consumers] can’t find it in the stores, they are creating it,” he said.

Denim is no longer considered weekend wear, and that has opened up a realm of opportunity for the industry to blur the lines between athleisure, streetwear and formal wear. Isko, a pioneer in the athleisure industry, knows this firsthand, as its jog jean is one of its most popular styles to date.

Another trend Ozden sees shaping denim today is actually not a trend at all. In recent years, sustainability has become a top priority for brands and mills—though it’s something Isko has had in the works long before it became a buzzword.

“Sustainability is a long-term project with short-term results,” he said. “Isko didn’t embrace sustainability five or 10 years ago. We started sustainability 25 years ago.”

Instead, Isko refers to its sustainable approach as “responsible innovation,” and all of its claims are verified by a third party.

For these reasons and many others, Ozden was named one of Rivet’s 50 most influential people in denim.

Click here to listen to the full conversation with Baris Ozden.

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This podcast episode is made possible by Cotton Incorporated, a not-for-profit company funded by U.S. cotton producers and importers, and whose mission is to increase the demand and profitability of cotton. Discover What Cotton Can Do.