American Eagle Outfitters, senior director of fabric R&D, color, wash
David Vlaservich
American Eagle Outfitters, senior director of fabric R&D, color, wash

Deep Dive

As senior director of fabric R&D, color and wash at American Eagle Outfitters, David Vlaservich offers a special combination of creativity and more than 20 years of experience in the dyeing, finishing and garment wet processing areas.

Vlaservich provides a strong technical background needed to create new and innovative products and administer production support for the troubleshooting of problems in the field. He has a successful track record of building cohesive product development teams with primary emphasis on the wet processing of fabrics and garments.

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

Many customers are not very aware of the amount of progress that has been made—and continues to be made—to make the manufacturing of denim more sustainable to lessen the environmental impact. Over the years, the denim supply chain (fiber suppliers, fabric mills, laundries, dye/chemical suppliers, etc.) has made significant investments in various technologies to aid in producing a more sustainable denim product. Mills and laundries are now using equipment and processes that utilize significantly less water than conventional processes and much of the water that they are using is being recycled back into their existing operation. Brands are starting to utilize more preferred fibers such as organic cotton, recycled fibers, and lyocell, among others that consume less resources in the growing or manufacturing of the fibers. Dye and chemical suppliers are creating safer products that have less ecological impact and laundries are continuing to invest in equipment that is safer and less labor intensive. There is still a lot of work to be done with regard to the sustainability of jeans, however we moving in a very positive direction.

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

The Covid-19 pandemic has definitely pushed the industry to adapt and find new ways of working, however it has also helped to shine light on various social and environmental issues. The customer is starting to become more aware of how products are made, what raw materials are used, where they are produced, and who produced them. The entire industry needs to work together to embrace new products, processes and technology to continue expanding sustainable practices and building a better future.

Skinny jeans: Over or a new staple?

While skinny jeans have continued to dominate the denim scene for quite a while, their dominance does seem to be fading a bit recently. Even though skinny jeans do remain popular, there is now a transition to more rigid or comfort stretch fabrics being used in “looser” or “roomer” fits.

Whether talking Mom, boyfriend, girlfriend, loose, flare jeans, etc., these “old staples” from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s are making a comeback.

How can denim retail improve?

One of the areas where I think that the denim industry can improve is the overall education as it relates to sustainability. This includes education efforts both within the entire manufacturing supply chain (fiber producer, mills, factories, laundries, brands, etc.) and making sure retail employees have the knowledge and background to share information about a product’s sustainability with customers. Denim retail should continue to engage with customers to help educate them as they impart sustainability in their purchasing decision.

How many pairs of jeans do you own?

Honestly, too many to count!  I wear denim jeans daily, but most of the jeans that I am wearing are part of our fabric R&D process where I need to understand the overall performance of these jeans after repeated wearing.  How do they stretch? Does the stretch recover or bag out? Is it experiencing any potential quality issues?  How is the comfort? While we can do extensive fabric testing, and we do, there is nothing like doing extended wear tests to truly understand the performance of the product.

Which jeans do you wear the most, and why?

Only American Eagle. The fit, finish, fabric, comfort, and overall value are the best.