From co-designing circular collections to helping companies develop sustainable roadmaps and communication plans, Simply Suzette founder and director Ani Wells plays many roles in the denim industry’s transformative state. Wells teamed with Cotton Diaries and sustainable designer Anne Oudard this year to create a cotton traceability study that examined data roadblocks and solutions at each level of the supply chain. She also serves as the Transformers Foundation’s communication director, sharing the foundation’s reports on ethical principles and misinformation on cotton.
Wells lends her expertise to products as well. She collaborated with Soorty on a collection of garments with QR codes that connect to a diary that highlights the individuals involved in its production. With AGI Denim, Wells introduced Inhale, a collection of circular garments and different solutions for reducing microfiber pollution. More recently, she worked on developing a 100 percent recycled cotton denim with Blue Diamond, First Finish LA, American Made and Labeltex. “The four companies coming together was a dream team to work with while creating a beautiful product,” she said.
Storytelling, however, is at the heart of Wells’ work and her latest project, Simply Studios. “We believe in a holistic approach to considering impact,” she said about the studio. “We are passionate about telling the stories of the people behind the seams, building more inclusive workforces, and helping supply chains be a force of good through creative, communications and sustainability consulting services.”
What denim buzzword do you think is overused? And what would you replace it with?
“Regenerative” is a word that is becoming over used and misused. I would not replace the word, as I think it is an important one to work towards, but I would like to see it used in the right context and when speaking about specific regeneration initiatives.
What do you wish more consumers knew about the jeans they buy?
I wish consumers would know the people behind their jeans. Humanizing the supply chain is extremely important to have the consumer understand the value and impact buying a pair of jeans can have.
If you had one request for denim brands, what would that be?
Get to know your supply chain and all your partners like the back of your hand, while using your power to genuinely try to create a positive impact.
What can other apparel categories learn from the denim industry?
Denim was made to be durable but creating durable jeans has taken creative thinking (like the rivet) to ensure the end garment will stand the test of time. Other apparel categories should take inspiration and find creative ways to reinforce their garments for ample wear and functionality.
What was your most recent denim purchase?
I bought a ’70s Levi’s 501 selvedge from Amsterdam Denim Days this year.
What is your first denim memory?
Buying my first pair of premium jeans. They were Seven For All Mankind jeans from Toronto’s denim heaven, Over the Rainbow, on Boxing Day. The wall of denim had me mesmerized at 11 years old.