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Rivet 50 Radio: Robert McMillan

Today's fast-moving fashion industry demands an agile, consumer-led retail model, but how do you get there? Join our webinar "Consumer-Led Retail: Optimizing Assortments at Speed" Sept 28th, featuring experts from MakerSights and DTC brand Taylor Stitch.

Made in America denim is few and far between, and its scarcity is what led Robert McMillan to make the leap from bond trading to jeans making. As the owner of Dearborn Denim, McMillan focuses on high quality denim that’s designed, cut and sewn entirely in the U.S.—a trait he feels is a major draw for partners and consumers alike.

“One of the big things about American-made products is that they’re ethically made by and large,” he said. “Compared globally, the U.S. has very good labor laws. You’re not going to have child labor in an American-made product.”

McMillan continued his focus on ethical business practices during the Covid-19 pandemic, when he pivoted Dearborn’s production to face masks to respond to the overwhelming demand for the product. The company immediately shifted to making thousands of face masks a day for hospitals as well as the general public.

Sustainability is another point of focus for the brand, which claims that none of its fabric was sent to a landfill last year. Instead, offcut scraps were sent to secondhand companies to use for punching bag filler. Dearborn also uses shipping bags that are 100 percent compostable.

But at the end of the day, McMillan says that the most sustainable option is for companies to make less, and for consumers to buy less.

“If you have one pair of jeans that you wear for two years or four years, you’re going through less material,” he said. “That’s a huge savings on the sustainability side. Lower consumption seems to be one of the better solutions, which means making better products that last longer.”

Click here to listen to the full conversation with McMillan.

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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.

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