An avid supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, Left Hand Twill mastermind Solomon Russell used his platform in fashion to spread awareness about the industry’s shortcomings. The vintage denim boutique owner has spoken out about denim’s role in the African slave trade and shone a light on the change that needs to be made throughout the industry regarding diversity.
In April, he teamed with denim leaders to produce a booklet containing limited-edition recycled denim patches entitled “Sewn Together: A collaboration between Elmer Gomer, Left Hand Twill and Denim Dudes,” which documented themes of community and solidarity in denim at a time when society was heavily fractured. Each booklet sold for $40 and Russell donated his portion of proceeds to the Radical Monarchs, a nonprofit that creates opportunities for young girls of color to celebrate their identities and contribute to their communities.
Through his store’s offerings of finely curated vintage denim and denim accessories, Russell also tells the story of sustainability, noting that Left Hand Twill’s objective is to reduce the pounds of textiles that are placed in landfills every year. His promotion of secondhand clothing helps tackle an industry-wide issue of waste and overconsumption—and it extends to his personal life as well: He exclusively purchases high-quality denim that he intends to wear in constant rotation. Through his sustainable consumption habits and positive community work, this agent of change leads by doing.
What is the biggest misconception that consumers have about sustainable denim?
A big misconception is that sustainable denim is expensive. It won’t cost you a fortune to buy sustainably, but there’s always the option to buy secondhand which is equally as good as buying the newest jeans on the market.
What can the denim industry do to ensure a positive post-pandemic rebound?
I feel like there’s been a positive post-pandemic push in the denim industry. One thing I love seeing is the collaborative effort amongst different-sized brands and designers coming together to keep denim trends and collections fresh. With parts of the world opening back up, people want to look and feel good, so I believe the denim industry has conveyed a great message of still being a staple all the while maintaining a fresh edge over other clothing categories.
Skinny jeans: Over or a new staple?
Skinny jeans definitely had their day and that trend is on the downside, but I think we’ll see the revenge of the skinny jean soon.
How can denim retail improve?
Sizing. Many people talk about how difficult and inconsistent sizing can be between brands. I’d love to see a wider range of sizing. There’s got to be something for everyone.
How many pairs of jeans do you own?
Six, with three in regular rotation. I’m a firm believer in wearing what I buy and the pairs that I currently own are all I need.
Which jeans do you wear the most, and why?
As of right now, it's my pair of selvedge Levi 501’s a friend gifted me. They’re loose-fitted, worn-in, comfortable and perfect for running errands. You can definitely catch me at the grocery store wearing those.