Invista, business development director
Cindy McNaull
Invista, business development director

Deep Dive

Cindy McNaull has been a driving force, thought leader and “durable ambassador” at Invista’s Cordura brand for more than a decade. In her current role as Cordura brand business development director, she harnesses more than 25 years of passion and experience within specialty chemical, textile and non-woven industries. She has led the expansion of the brand from its heritage in military and outdoor applications to the durable performance textile solution provider it is today for workwear, sportswear and other lifestyle categories.

To her denim colleagues, she’s known for her creativity, connectivity and ability to think beyond the norm, securing Cordura’s place in the jeanswear market during the past 10 years through collaborations and long-lasting partnerships.

Most recently McNaull was part of the team that developed and expanded the Cordura recycled fabric portfolio. “I’m excited about the implications these advancements will have on the future of the whole denim market as we look to add more possibilities to our existing Cordura denim portfolio,” she said.

What is the biggest misconception that consumers have about sustainable denim?

I think most people are now more than aware of the pressing need for sustainability in today’s world. At the same time, however, I believe there is still an educational job to be done here.

The issue is not only about renewable resources, but the core concept of developing products that will retain all their functionality over a greater period. In other words, there’s no point in offering products that tick all the sustainability boxes if they must be thrown away after an unacceptably short life.

The Cordura philosophy has always been that ‘sustainability begins with products that last.’ Applied across our whole denim portfolio, this has resulted in technically advanced products with an authentic denim look and feel and enhanced with protective performance for every work or leisure environment.

It’s a reassuring message we need to get across to consumers who might have the misconception that sustainability comes at the cost of the reliable durability that has always been a driving force in the purchase of denim garments.

What can the denim industry do to ensure a positive post-pandemic rebound?

Covid-19 has stopped the world in its tracks. We’ve all been forced to rethink our lives and learn lessons. What do we really value? What is important? What do we really want? As a result, I believe people are going to demand much more from what they wear.

They’re going to be more selective when they make a purchase, moving away from transient ideas and having a much sharper focus on fabrics with a proven legacy of performance and dependability. Ingredient brands can often serve as anchor points when trying to communicate and differentiate a product’s benefits.

That being the case, retailers can match this new mood and respond by not carrying so many lines and styles concentrating instead on better quality that will last.

Skinny jeans: Over or a new staple?

My own view is that they’re here to stay, not least because of their supreme versatility. Today’s consumers are dynamic. They lead cross-functional lifestyles. They want to move seamlessly from one activity to another throughout the day. Their routine might begin with an early session at the climbing gym, then on to the office and then maybe straight from work to a night out with friends. Name another garment that will so effortlessly make all those moves and still look so good.

And that’s without even mentioning all those sporting and outdoor pursuits such as cycling, mountain climbing or trail exploring.

Say what you like, but for me on a cold winter morning nothing beats a pair of tall boots layered over with my favorite skinnies. Although I do love a good pair of boyfriend jeans, I’d have to say that skinnies are here to stay.

How can denim retail improve?

The question everyone is asking is whether we will ever get back to ‘normal’ once the pandemic is over. Maybe, maybe not. But there’s a real opportunity to move to ‘better’ rather than just normal. The whole denim sector can make up for lost ground by quickly taking full advantage of the progress being made in new fabric technologies designed to match the consumer’s growing expectations.

This means that storytelling will become increasingly important. People need to know what’s happening and how it benefits them. Skilful communication will help them make informed choices. They need to know not just how the product is made, but what it’s made from. This will have a direct impact on garment longevity and a person’s overall emotional attachment to the piece and to the brand.

How many pairs of jeans do you own?

Confession time. Last time I dared to count, I had close to 150 denim items in my closet. Not just jeans but pretty much every fashion item you could think of—chambray shirts, skirts, jackets, rompers, you name it. No longer though, thanks to some drastic downsizing. Over the past Covid year I’ve passed on lots of these to friends and family for a new generation and for some new memories in the making.

I think that’s how I came by many of the items in the first place. Which says a lot about not only the literal durability of denim but its everlasting appeal. It just won’t go out of fashion and is constantly being reinvented or presenting itself in new formats and concepts.

Which jeans do you wear the most, and why?

Hand on heart, I think it must be one of my latest and much-loved acquisitions from Dovetail.

This is a brand set up and run by women dedicated to designing and producing workwear for women that’s fit for the job and capable of anything. I worked with this talented team, alongside Ebru Ozaydin, formerly of Artistic Milliners, and Tricia Carey at Lenzing to help design and launch a product that offered the optimal combination of softness, stretch and strength using our T420HT high-tenacity fiber with Stay Black technology.

I firmly believe that the way forward in denim lies in building sustainable relationships that are durable and able to stand the test of time. And I have the jeans to prove it.