Sustainable denim is out there—you just have to know where to find it. Online retailer Simply Suzette has become one such source, known for a curated selection of some of the world’s top sustainable denim brands on one convenient platform.
Ani Wells, founder of Simply Suzette, started her e-commerce business with a vision: she wanted to create a platform where consumers were able to shop for the hottest styles and washes “guilt-free.” A holder of a post-graduate degree in fashion management, Wells understood denim production’s impact on the environment.
However, the self-described “jeans and a T-shirt girl” wanted to be able to save the planet while staying true to her own sense of fashion. “I have always worked toward a career in the fashion industry and had been working for large boutiques in Toronto, thinking I wanted to be a buyer,” Wells said. “But, as I grew within companies, I realized that the businesses wanted to transition into fast fashion companies and I was not on board with that. That’s when I created Simply Suzette.”
While Wells notes that no brand is perfect, she is shining a spotlight on those taking meaningful measures to reduce their footprint in fashion. The e-tailer stocks Los Angeles-based Triarchy, which uses recycled water throughout its manufacturing process and recycled materials, and EB Denim that reconstructs vintage Levi’s.
Here, Wells shares with Rivet why sustainable fashion is good business and what’s next for Simply Suzette.
Rivet: Why is this sustainable denim important to you?
AW: When I started to learn how bad denim production was for the people making it and the planet, I started researching what brands were out there doing something different. I didn’t find much. That’s when I set out on a mission to find the best brands creating premium denim ethically and sustainably. Simply Suzette stemmed from the idea that if there was a curated selection of sustainable denim that looked and felt like premium denim, it would be easier for people to buy the better option.
This topic became important to me because I realized there was a huge lack of awareness in consumers and felt like I could create awareness by influencing people to start thinking about their purchases before they buy. Obviously, this is important for all garments, but because denim is so important to me, this is where I started.
Rivet: What qualities do you look for in brands for your store?
AW: No brand is perfect, yet. Not even the ones using recycled materials. So, when I am deciding what brands to carry, I look at the factory, fabric, the finishing materials, wash process, and how they recycle their waste. I also like to carry brands that give back to a meaningful cause. A friend of mine at Boyish Jeans told me that because perfection doesn’t exist, it is all about balance and finding the better alternative.
Rivet: What are the best-selling brands at Simply Suzette?
AW: My best-selling brands right now are Toko Nikomu and EB Denim, which use vintage Levi’s to create their products.
Rivet: What’s next for sustainable denim?
AW: There is a lot of hope for sustainable denim in the future. I think the future of sustainable denim is circularity. We are already seeing jeans that have been made to be 98 percent recyclable, but I believe there is the possibility that jeans will become completely recyclable, allowing us to reuse the materials for other products.
Rivet: What does sustainability mean for you, personally?
AW: Personally, sustainability is a journey. It’s about being conscientious and trying to do your part where you can. For most people, zero waste just isn’t possible, but we can try our best to think about the purchases we are making and being aware of how the product has affected the people making it and the planet.
Rivet: What are the big trends you see based on your shoppers?
AW: Based on my clients, I see a big trend towards upcycled products. This is a huge win for me because I always say the most sustainable way to purchase is to use what we have. Patchwork, creative seaming and stitching have been gaining a lot of traction.
Rivet: Do you have any plans or intentions to expand into any new areas?
AW: I do have intentions to branch into more than one product category, but you will have to keep an eye on Simply Suzette within the next couple of years for that.