Creating artwork with indigo has led to a career in the denim supply chain for Juan Manuel Gomez.
For diehard denim heads around the world, a perfectly aged fade on a pair of jeans is like a piece of wearable art.
And in the case of denim fan and Colombian artist Juan Manuel Gomez, creating artwork with indigo and denim has led to a career in the denim supply chain. Having experimented with laundry techniques for his art projects and created original paintings for brands like Denham the Jeanmaker, Gomez now serves as the creative leader of Officina+39, the Italian sustainable chemical company best known for Recycrom, a system that reprocesses textile scraps into colored powder to dye new garments.
In this role, Gomez creates new concepts for color and dye that are then developed into collections by Officina+39’s technical team. Along with heightening the level of creativity in the company’s R&D, Gomez leads workshops and special projects with clients that focus on sustainability.
What will the denim industry be like in the next 18 months?
The production chain will have to reconsider how to make business in a way that favors trust and transparency between brands and providers. Delivery time and price won’t be the most important considerations. For big brands, there will be challenges like managing seasonal collections and reducing the number of stores. For small entrepreneurial brands focused in sustainable circularity, the next months and years will have to be dedicated to getting the attention of citizens and [brands] that didn’t take them seriously.
What changes would you like to see in the denim industry as a result of Covid-19?
I would like to see the citizens and consumers become more conscious, active and knowledgeable about what we do in the denim industry—the good and the bad. The denim industry could also take advantage of this little pause and make itself more present in alternative spaces in order to achieve a more global reach and to help decentralize information.
How do you define sustainability in a post-pandemic world?
Sustainability should be local and constant, involving citizens and denim industry suppliers that venture to propose their own brands or mini collections. I think many companies in the denim industry have good sustainable components, but many brands and large corporations have ignored it. Perhaps big brands would understand better the sustainable components and technologies they are missing if denim industries reached directly to the common citizen with an honest, transparent product.
Describe your dream jeans.
A second-hand workwear pant with a replaceable layer that I could remove when it’s very used and painted. Then I could exhibit this layer on my wall as inspiration that shows the effect of time on denim.
What is your most worn pair of jeans, and why?
A Denham raw Razor fit I bought five years ago. The best thing about them was the experience of buying them from an expert on denim that later became a great friend. It’s the pair I use when I make large paintings, so they have lots of wear and faded blues.
Name one word that best describes denim.