Sevgin Sicim is bringing C&A's stance on sustainability to the jeanswear category.
Fast-fashion retailer C&A wants to normalize sustainable apparel by making it more accessible.
As the sourcing manager for denim, Sevgin Sicim is translating this mission to jeans. In 2018, C&A became the first retailer to introduce Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified denim, which was priced at 29 euros for men and women. Just two years later, C&A had another first with the launch of Cradle to Cradle Platinum Certified denim through a partnership with Rajby Textiles on its Beluga Denim.
The retailer’s size has enabled it to have an outsize impact on sustainability. In a 2016 report, Textile Exchange named C&A the top user of organic cotton, and it estimated that this helped save 136.8 billion liters of water that year.
With roughly 2 million customers daily across Europe, C&A is inspiring them all to #WearTheChange.
What will the denim industry be like in the next 18 months?
Let’s consider the retail industry, as denim is a part of it. Closing down shops for so many weeks is very challenging for all brands. The entire industry is facing now much bigger impact than what we all could have ever imagined. All players have been dealing with dramatic facts, and I believe each party is doing their best to be able to cope. If everything goes well, by end of the year we expect getting back to business.
In the meantime, we also consider how this uncertain situation affects consumers’ behavior; seems people are less willing to spend money in garment shopping. To expect to get back to business same as before COVID-19 would not be realistic even in 18 months, as all parties within the industry would need to rebuild capacity and capability accordingly.
What change would you like to see in the denim industry as a result of Covid-19?
There was a number we heard before the COVID-19 spread that 150 billion garment pieces are manufactured worldwide for a year for 7 billion population. This was a result of a business model created based on volume, large orders, smaller unit cost, short life circle; people were buying more, paying less. I would love to see this turn into a shop less, buy better approach.
Denim is a product that the more you wear and more you wash your jeans, the nicer [garment] you get, and this never fit in a ‘low price, short life circle’ culture anyway.
How do you define sustainability in a post-pandemic world?
Sustainability has been depending on each individual company—how they want to approach, and on each individual retailer how they want to be a part.
The pandemic has created lots of awareness. Recently, we all spent more time indoors. [We appreciate] nature more than ever, which will affect our way of shopping. [There will be] more demand for being greener and more sustainable, while people will think twice about buying new clothes. This will push the industry to a more collaborative approach for all players to care more about the environment and make our industry more sustainable economically and socially.
Describe your dream jeans.
The C&A Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified jean is actually my dream come true, which is the world's first entire pair of jeans made completely from sustainable materials, from fiber to buttons to hem, which can be recycled at the end of the use. It aims for far more ambitions than conventional recycling, and the concept of eco-efficiency creates equal economic, social and ecological benefits. My dream is now to see this encourage and open up the way for all jeans to be made this way in one day.
What is your most worn pair of jeans, and why?
For quite a long period of time, it was my Levi’s 525, which was a boot-cut fit in orange tab fabric, comfort stretch, when I was also working for Levi’s as a bottom development manager at the time. Then my size changed, however, I kept it. It was [retired] in my wardrobe for five to six years and now my daughter, who is 14, is wearing it as a vintage piece.
Two years ago, I was in a vintage shop in Antwerp and found a pair of 525 jeans in a similar worn blue indigo shade, which is a typical look of orange tab fabric, which is a source of [inspiration] for denim designers and denim brands for decades. It feels like I met with an old good friend unexpectedly. Since then, this is my favorite and also most worn pair of jeans.
Name one word that best describes denim.