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The Buzzwords the Denim Industry Needs to Know in 2021

COVID-19 recovery is on the horizon but the pandemic's impact on sustainability, retail, product development and consumer buying patterns means the denim industry must evolve. Join Rivet on April 20th at 11 am ET for the COVID, One Year Later roundtable.

The denim industry is defined by an encyclopedia of buzzwords.

Heritage, timeless and authentic speak to diehard denim heads, while premium, stretch and skinny revealed jeans in a whole new light to a more fashion-focused audience. Meanwhile, a single buzzword—sustainability—has helped revolutionize the denim industry. Though at times misused and overused, the intention behind the term signals a more environmentally conscious future for the sector at large.

Here, denim designers, executives and consultants share the buzzwords they believe will have an impact on jeans in 2021.


Adriano Goldschmied, House of Gold president and founder

One word is not enough. We need to change and [aim] for creativity, circularity, transparency, traceability, digitalization, new fibers innovations and technology. We need justice, equality, inclusivity, respect and social responsibility.


Emma Grede, Good American CEO

In 2021, I hope to see the denim and fashion industry as a whole, move beyond buzzwords, continue to drive meaningful change and hold ourselves accountable. This past year, it has been so inspiring to see changemakers rise within the fashion industry, whether they’re demanding to see more diversity and inclusion from brands or pushing the conversation forward around sustainability. At Good American, we have continued to prioritize inclusivity and created a place to shop where representation is at the forefront. We’re very excited to continue introducing innovations in denim and other categories that cater to all women, holding ourselves accountable to the mission we set out from the start.


Jordan Nodarse, Boyish Jeans founder and creative director

Sustainability, and sadly, it’s going to be butchered. More and more brands will continue to do barely anything and call it something. Let’s hope that more companies will have more pride and respect and start using actual science and mathematics to create and market real change.


Finn Stenberg, Nudie Jeans vice president

Consciousness. We are a purpose-driven company, and we believe consciousness establishes a foundation to drive our business by creative emotional links with customers because of shared interests and values.


Miguel Sanchez, Kingpins Show technology leader, Transformers Foundation board member

Data. Every project, marketing message, decision and claim must be supported by credible, verified, clear and simple data. It is the antidote to greenwashing and blurry transparency.


Nicolas Prophte, Tommy Hilfiger vice president of sourcing, production and innovation denim

Responsible denim. Every person across the denim value chain plays a role in creating an industry that has a positive impact on both people and the planet. And as denim is one of the most worn materials in the world, consumers want to know that their denim is making a more positive impact. Brand owners must be aware of the consequences of their sourcing decisions, supply chain behaviors and their manufacturing techniques and ensure they take ownership of their responsibilities to drive positive change.


Vivian Rivetti, Wrangler global vice president of design

The buzzword in the denim world for 2021 will be circularity. We know if you do it right, denim gets better with age. Strong brands also understand that the ability to upcycle and resell means one pair of jeans can have multiple lifecycles with different owners. Circularity does not only refer to the resale component of circulating jeans. I believe that the ability and effort that companies put forth recycling cotton and denim while rebuilding into new denim product is going to be the talk of the industry in 2021, and for years to come.


James Bartle, Outland Denim founding CEO

Following ‘pivot,’ the buzzword of 2020, I think the buzzword of 2021 will be reset—a reflection of the industry’s journey in adapting to a new normal, and more hope for the future.


Piero Turk, designer

Produce less. Over production is not responsible and it’s expensive. Nobody can afford that any longer.


Denise Sakuma, The Lycra Company vice president of brands and marketing communications

Transparency. Consumers are seeking out brands that align with their values. In today’s environment, we are seeing a greater affinity towards organizations that are transparent and principles-based in every aspect of their business including product sourcing, manufacturing and supply chain.


Sinem Celik, BluProjects sustainability change agent

Responsibility. I hope the denim industry truly acts in responsible and respectful ways toward nature and humanity.


Naomi Goez, Centric Brands (Joe’s Jeans, Hudson Jeans) associate manager, production

Everyday luxe. I think that after a year full of sweatpants there will be a newfound excitement about dressing up while still being comfortable–an intersection of casual and luxury. Work-from-home will likely continue for a while, and perhaps become a permanent component of our work lives, but I think that marching towards a post-pandemic world will spark a revival and a celebration of elevated fashion.


Jose R. Royo, Tejidos Royo sales director

Sustainable post-pandemic blue year. We are going to overcome covid this year, and that will give us a much brighter prospective with new ideas and positive minds. We will do things, thinking about the people we have lost and how we can act together to avoid it happens again. Work is no longer buying and selling. It is about people and how important we are to each other.


Tricia Carey, Lenzing director of global business development, denim

Solidarity, it is the evolution of collaboration to one of resilience with cohesive vision.


Panos Sofianos, Bluezone denim curator

Empathy and togetherness. We must raise the blue flag again faster, higher and stronger.


Ani Wells, Simply Suzette founder and director

Circularity is already becoming the next buzzword in denim because ‘sustainability’ has lost its weight. Everything has something sustainable about it, but circular products can be kept in rotation forever—or so they say.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate one sustainable product from the next and because there is so much discussion around keeping garments in rotation as long as possible, circularity is naturally the next best [thing] in sustainable fashion. But, like with most buzzwords, it is being used without being fully understood. Rather than using a word as a blanket statement, tell us what you’re doing. Why did you choose to use the word circular?


Carme Santacruz Zaragoza, Jeanologia creative director

Challenging. It is a word that I love because it conveys the idea of moving forward on something exciting and full of energy. We need this now.

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