PVH Corp., vice president, global denim center
Nicolas Prophte
PVH Corp., vice president, global denim center

Deep Dive

As head of PVH’s denim center, Nicolas Prophte drives innovation across the fashion house’s brands, including Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein. In March, under Prophte’s oversight, Tommy Jeans debuted its first collection that follows Ellen MacArthur’s Jeans Redesign guidelines, made with 100 percent organic cotton fabric. To date, Tommy Hilfiger has trained more than 80 percent of its designers on circular design principles and launched Tommy for Life, its first circular business model. Under the Tommy for Life program, the company takes back items from customers and partners, and cleans, repairs and resells them, keeping products in use longer.

In the face of false information, Prophte said PVH needed to “be cautious and very careful that everything we claim has to be bulletproof.” He has taken stands against both greenwashing, which encompasses false claims about sustainability made to the public, as well as bluewashing, where mills entice brands with sustainability claims that it can’t back up.

Prophte is hoping to extend the sustainability conversation across brands. In July, PVH’s European division signed the Dutch Denim Deal, an industry collaboration initiative for sustainable denim launched by the Dutch government. Within the deal, the signatories will work collectively to foster supply and use of high-grade recycled cotton fibers in denim. The main targets are to produce collectively a total of 3 million pieces containing a minimum of 20 percent post-consumer recycled cotton by the end of 2023.

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

There is a significant amount of incorrect information circulating on social media on the environmental impact of producing a pair of jeans, which causes confusion amongst consumers. To solve this, brands along with key stakeholders and decision makers need to decide on clear industry standards, as well as the definitions surrounding sustainability in fashion. Once aligned, brand owners can then move forward using the same language for consumer-facing communication, which will eradicate these contradictory messages.

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

Denim has a real opportunity to be a role model in the fashion industry through aligning standards and processes to produce jeans that are both attractive to consumers while also respecting the environment and people working in the industry. A collaborative mindset between brand owners and the commitment of different stakeholders throughout the supply chain are the core pillars needed to achieve this, and to create new purpose engagement with our consumers.

Skinny jeans: Over or a new staple?

In my opinion, for women, the skinny jean is still leading in term of numbers, but we are seeing a fast rise in new shapes such as the straight fit and mom jeans. For men, the slim fit is still relevant, but new looser fits are slowly increasing in market share.

How many pairs of jeans do you own?

My wardrobe is full of denim, and I’ve kept around 30 of those pairs because they’re important to me. I call them my indigo memories because they each have an emotional connection to significant moments in my life.

Which jeans do you wear the most, and why?

My taste over the last few years is on the clean, minimalist side: five pockets, slim/taper fit, high quality linen/cotton blend selvedge fabric. They are unwashed to enhance the indigo color, and so that they fade to my shape over time to create a unique pattern.