Designer and educator Mohsin Sajid is guiding the next generation of responsible denim designers.
Throughout his 17-year career in denim, Mohsin Sajid has become a true denim guru.
The master pattern-cutter and ergonomic tailor has had a hand in the success of the world’s leading international denim brands and mills, and now lends his expertise to educating a younger generation of designers. Sajid’s time at the Cone Denim College in Greensboro, N.C., and subsequent denim pilgrimage to Kojima in Okayama, Japan informed his passion for helping build local industry through education.
His keen interest in shepherding the industry’s hopefuls brought him to lecture at The Royal College of Art, Westminster, Ravensbourne Universities, London College of Fashion, and at Acof Moda Fashion School’s newly created Denim School of Milan.
In 2019, Sajid embarked on a partnership with Kingpins to create the Denim History educational platform, including hosting Kingpin’s first educational event for fashion students in the U.K. with more than 30 colleges in attendance.
Why are you drawn to denim?
Denim is very complicated but also effortlessly and beautifully simple. As one of my own mentors, Zowie Broach, told me years ago, “Denim retains memory.” Every few years, a new innovation comes to make it cleaner and greener. The fact is, there’s so much more improvement still needed, which in itself is quite exciting. In denim production, nearly every aspect of its construction—from sowing seeds, spinning, weaving, construction of the jean and finally washing—uses water. So, it’s exciting learning about new ideas and concepts that we can implement so we make a better jean. It’s becoming my personal mission to educate the young so they don’t make the same mistakes like we did in the ’70s and ’80s with denim manufacturing.
How can brands improve the way they communicate sustainable stories to consumers?
Storytelling is something we have been doing in our own company for many years through short films for our clients. We find that films resonate well on many platforms such as Instagram—and 30-45 seconds is all you really need. Most consumers are generally interested how things are made, and most do ask important questions, like where the fiber has come from, and if you’re making your product ethically, and what’s happening with the waste materials—especially if you’re doing something different.
We like to communicate the story, from fiber to finished garment, in campaign form. Educating students and the general public on denim manufacturing, and being transparent, is really the key at the moment. I worked with a mill recently, and when I asked where the cotton had come from, they told me it was a secret. This lack of transparency will ultimately bring unwanted attention to them most likely, and they’ll come across as an un-trustworthy company.
We like to make thought-provoking films which keep the discussion going on how we can make things better.
What was the last denim garment you purchased?
I picked up a 2x1 Stevenson overall denim shirt online, something that I have had my eye on for a number of years. These shirts are made using vintage machinery, which the geek in me loves. The 1/8” and 3/16” twin needle chain stitch stitching are something modern design does not allow, as these sewing machines don’t exist anymore.
Which city has the most inspiring street style?
For me, it’s still Tokyo, but I still remember visiting Kojima and seeing all the denim factory workers in the coolest denim working away, surrounded by nature.
What’s exciting you about denim in 2019?
The number of new innovations, from foam dyeing to using new sustainable yarns from Lenzing, and the advancements in laser technology from both Jeanologia and Tonello. Every year there seems to be new exciting groundbreaking innovation.