Mud Jeans founder and CEO Bert van Son is in the business of turning big ideas into reality. The apparel industry veteran, who began his career as a 23-year-old in China, applies the experiences he’s gathered during the past 30 years to make the denim industry less wasteful and more circular.
Mud Jeans was the first to introduce a denim rental business model back in 2012. The scheme not only promotes buying less and recycling, but it is also helping the company create its latest product and another industry first. In May, Mud Jeans launched the first jeans made with 100 percent post-consumer recycled (PCR) cotton. The brand achieved this feat by partnering with the Saxion University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands to combine mechanically recycled fibers with chemically recycled fibers to create the jean.
Others outside of denim are taking note of van Son’s willingness to take risks in the name of sustainability. B Lab named Mud Jeans one of its 2022 “Best for the World” companies for their environmental performance. This year the brand also received the award for Sustainable Entrepreneurship presented by the King Willem I Foundation, a prestigious business award in the Netherlands.
What denim buzzword do you think is overused? And what would you replace it with?
Recycled cotton should become post-consumer recycled cotton.
What do you wish more consumers knew about the jeans they buy?
Where, by who, and how they are made.
If you had one request for denim brands, what would that be?
Be honest and transparent about your total production, all three tiers.
What can other apparel categories learn from the denim industry?
That there are plenty techniques to do better All the solutions are there, we just have to start using them and we should be willing to pay the true cost.
What is your first denim memory?
The jeans I got after my big brother had worn it for years.