Travis Rice, Alliance for Responsible Denim project manager,supports brands' efforts to go green—one nudge at a time.
Travis Rice doesn’t want your plaudits. Certainly the successes of the Alliance for Responsible Denim (ARD), he said, cannot be attributed to him and him alone.
But someone needs to coordinate the organization’s sizeable roster, which includes founding partners (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Circle Economy and Made-By), brands (G-Star Raw, MUD Jeans, Nudie Jeans, Kings of Indigo, Kuyichi), mills (Bossa, Kilim Denim, Orta Anadolu, Tavex, Tejidos Royo) and other stakeholders.
And for the past year, that someone has been him.
As project manager, Rice helps create the scaffold around which the ARD can build a “cleaner, smarter” denim industry. His work, he explained, is “diverse”: He facilitates the efforts of the two main working groups (denim finishing and post-consumer recycled denim), connects ARD’s work with kindred initiatives, assembles the quarterly plenary meetings, promotes existing members and solicits new ones.
He’s also a brand cheerleader—“the ‘gentle nudger’ as I follow up with brands as they set targets and goals and work toward them,” said Rice, who prides himself on his objectivity and “neutrality” as stakeholders in the alliance take ownership of their own companies’ impact.
Although denim is often driven by heritage, Rice believes that the industry is shifting toward innovation, which, he pointedly noted, isn’t the same thing as what’s trending.
“[It’s] innovation inspired by biomimicry, chemistry and circularity, rather than ‘What’s hot right now?’” he said. “Emily Dickinson once said, ‘Forever is composed of nows.’ Don’t be bound by history, make history. Now.”
What is your first denim memory?
“When I was little, I was obsessed with animals. Therefore, going to the zoo was the highlight of my summer. Each time I went to the zoo, I had to wear my Oshkosh overalls. Why? No rhyme or reason. There are at least five photos, from 1990 to 1995, of me at a zoo, wearing Oshkosh overalls.”
What is your favorite pair of jeans?
“I have never been someone to have a favorite pair of jeans, favorite shoes or a favorite shirt. I source my wardrobe from a variety of places—I’ve never been brand loyal—and get inspired on a daily basis. Perhaps I should see if Oshkosh makes adult-size overalls.”