Challenging the norm has always served as the inspiration behind the work of Be Disobedient, the creative consultancy founded by denim expert Ana Paula Alves de Oliveira. Along with providing trend and market insight to clients, the group has launched unique projects with brands like Levi’s to invite consumers to recycled jeans into completely new circular products. The pandemic, however, forced the group to recalibrate and push boundaries further. “The pandemic made us change the way we work, behave and think,” Alves de Oliveira said.
Though a challenge, the global shift to digital communication and events provided a greater soapbox for Alves de Oliveira to spread her Be Disobedient message on sustainability, collaboration and creativity. “We had to adapt existing projects into online experiences, using creativity to react quickly,” she said.
The group generated more than 10 webinars inviting over 50 industry experts from around the globe to share personal stories, insights, success cases and recommendations to inspire colleagues during the difficult year. The digital events also provided a platform for South and Central America denim industries. While the regions suffer from a lack of technology and government subsidies, Alves de Oliveira pointed out that Latin America still has the most important ingredients to make good denim: “passionate people with denim addiction.”
“It’s a myth that the overseas market is better than South and Central America,” she said. “The world is interdependent now and full of new opportunities. Once we understand it, we realize the entire scope of possibilities and where we need to improve our offering.”
What is the biggest misconception that consumers have about sustainable denim?
Sustainability is not a trend—it is an urgent need. Awareness must come from each stage of the process: textile, manufacturing, laundry, commercial, marketing and user experience. This is a mutual responsibility, and the mistake is thinking that we depend on others to solve our own problems.
What can the denim industry do to ensure a positive post-pandemic rebound?
Accepting that consumption will decrease is a first step. Collaborating with the production chain will make collective change. We should create, produce, and buy with a clear purpose.
Skinny jeans: Over or a new staple?
It is a fit that brought comfort. Understanding that denim is an ever-changing fabric makes it easier to accept that some shapes, colors and washes become basic items. Skinny fit is one of them.
How can denim retail improve?
Generate a sincere and loyal connection with customers informing about the processes, composition and production, sharing the story behind each product. The more consumers know how it is made, the easier it is to delight the public.
How many pairs of jeans do you own?
A lot. Many are samples of the fabrics designed and created while I was working as Tavex’s marketing and product manager. It was part of my protocol and quality control: try them on, love them all.
Which jeans do you wear the most, and why?
A tapered 100 percent cotton selvedge G-Star Raw jean with a wash that maintains the shine of an intense indigo and shades of natural wear. Because jeans tell stories—if not, they are not jeans.