As executive director of the ZDHC Foundation, Frank Michel helps the world's largest apparel brands clean up their supply chains.
Zero just might be Frank Michel’s favorite number. As executive director of the ZDHC Foundation, Michel helps businesses like Adidas, H&M, Levi Strauss and Nike to eliminate hazardous chemicals in their supply chains.
He does this as part of the nonprofit’s Roadmap to Zero Programme, an evolving framework of tools, standards and resources that promotes chemical-management best practices, supplies training to fill in knowledge gaps and unifies expectations for both brands and their suppliers.
From his vantage point, Michel sees a denim industry that could do with less—less strain on natural resources, less bad chemistry. At the same time, he’d appreciate broader communication between the people who make denim and those who buy it.
“I think consumers lack understanding about the value of a denim product,” he said. “I would love for people to see how many steps of work and how many resources go into a pair of jeans so they see their value and not make them disposable.”
Another thing Michel would like more of? Denim trailblazers.
“When you talk about circular economy or you talk about restrictions in chemistry, that very quickly goes along with limitations in creativity and design,” he said. “Anyone who wants to be a [denim] thought leader must think out of the box and find solutions that make the industry more efficient while maintaining its creative dynamics.”
What is your first denim memory?
“My first denim memory is of the worn jeans I wore as a kid. They were the most comfortable ones.”
What is your favorite pair of jeans?
“This is difficult because I have clients in all different companies and I’d prefer not to name a brand. I like them tapered and, I hate to say it, but I like the stretch version because they're very comfortable, even if they're not sustainable.”