Tony Tonnaer is a pioneer in cool sustainable fashion and storytelling.
The backbone of the Kings of Indigo (KOI), Tony Tonnaer headed straight for the denim industry after training at the renowned Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AMFI). He worked for Pepe Jeans as a sourcing assistant in 1997 and eventually became responsible for sourcing the majority of the brand’s apparel.
As the founder of KOI, which got off the ground in 2011, Tonnaer has worked to infuse sustainability and style into the brand’s products without compromising quality.
In fact, more than 95 percent of KOI’s offering is composed of sustainable materials. The company produces its apparel with 100 percent GOTS or Organic Content Standard certified organic cotton. In 2020, KOI was approved by PETA as a vegan brand and, recently, it launched a capsule collection made without using any new cotton fabric.
What will the denim industry be like in the next 18 months?
It will be highly under pressure and too much stock will be in the market. It is a perfect moment to sell less jeans but with better quality and true sustainable materials and processes. The focus will be more on true stories and real product.
What change would you like to see in the denim industry as a result of Covid-19?
A decrease for seasonal denim and more core basics lasting for many seasons, so there will be fewer sales. Continuous sale is the killer of our industry and makes [it so] that brands can pay less for a fairly made pair of quality jeans.
How do you define sustainability in a post-pandemic world?
Sustainability was already upcoming in the past years as we realize more and more that we have to take better care of the earth and its workers while enjoying a nice pair of jeans. COVID-19 will enhance this effect to part of the market, while in the lower end of the market the race to the bottom will be even more severe.
Describe your dream jeans.
Regular fit, 15 oz. selvedge jeans made from 60 percent post-consumer recycled cotton and 40 percent hemp in natural indigo dye.
What is your most worn pair of jeans, and why?
I wear Kings of Indigo all the time, but the one I wear most is the Louis in Collect, a 14 oz. red cast selvedge. I love the regular straight for and this fabric has the perfect weight, color and ages incredibly nice.
Name one word that best describes denim.