Henry Wong is an encyclopedia of denim.
When it comes to denim, Henry Wong’s level of product knowledge is spellbinding.
As Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries director, product development and marketing for North America, Wong oversees the ins and outs of the Pakistan-based company’s U.S. denim business. But it’s his enthusiasm for denim’s heritage, coupled with his very matter-of-fact attitude toward its future—particularly when it comes down to sustainability—that makes him a major asset to the whole trade show floor.
What he’s most proud of? “Changing the perception of Pakistan from within the denim industry and playing a part in converting denim programs to be made in a better way with less impact to the environment,” Wong said.
Why are you drawn to denim?
I love denim. I am enamored by the consumption aspect of it. As I wear denim, consume it and use it, I contribute by giving it essence, purpose and soul to the object. Denim gives a tangible and visible narrative as it breaks down to be softer and fade to look more interesting. When an indigo product is made beautifully, there is a responsibility for the owner to use it beautifully. This dialogue, between maker and consumer, about why something was made and why something exists, is very interesting to me.
How can the supply chain improve the way it communicates sustainable technology to brands?
A more urgent question may be: How can brands improve the way they communicate sustainable technology to consumers and create preference for products made in a better way? After all, if the demand is not there to sustain the supply of eco-conscious innovation, then investments into responsible manufacturing will fizzle out. To help address that, the supply chain ought to think in terms of the end consumer of the products they make. When we communicate features of our denim products, we always try to speak about benefits to the final consumer.
How do you predict the denim supply chain will change in the next 10 years?
The supply chain will be significantly more transparent and visible to the public. Every component in the denim supply chain will have some degree of more responsible manufacturing—and that degree is dependent on the market demand. Also, as the supply chain becomes more sophisticated, more functions that used to be owned by retailers will be transferred to makers and agents. Automation of both process and service will become common.
What makes the denim supply chain unique from other apparel sectors?
The passion for why and how the product is made.
What’s exciting you about denim in 2019?
The industry is transforming in an exciting way, whether it is automation, replacing harmful chemicals with gentler ones or radical transparency. Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries, for example, is well on our way to a reality in which every denim product we make is manufactured in a better way, with a lighter impact to the environment. We still have a long road to travel, but the momentum we build in 2019 will move us hopefully to a sustainable future that includes denim. I am optimistic.