When it comes to sustainability, Tricia Carey, Lenzing's director of global business development for denim, is a team player.
Tricia Carey was talking about sustainability in the textile supply chain before most people ever acknowledged the term. And when Lenzing started touting its closed-loop manufacturing process and forestry management, she took the role of sharing its importance for both the environment and the denim industry’s image.
“When I started with Tencel and Courtaulds 21 years ago, we didn’t talk about sustainability or the trees,” said Carey, the company’s director of business development for denim. “Now, we’re all reaching a point where we realize the impact on the environment and I’m happy that I played a part in bringing that message to the industry and, ultimately, to consumers. It is a revolution.”
Along with championing B2C events like Denim Days and creating the Carved in Blue blog as an industry platform, Carey was also a crusader in breaking the industry’s old insular habits.
“In the past, we would just consider another fiber company as a competitor, and now we look at collaboration as a way to bring things to market in a more robust way,” she said.
Why are you drawn to denim?
I think it’s the product and the people. Denim is such a unique product for apparel because there’s the art and craft behind denim. There’s the fact that you have the whole mix of fiber, yarn, weaving and especially in the finishing side, to create a very unique look. The denim area has only been something I’ve done in the last five years and I found the people in the denim market are quite different from the other areas of the apparel industry I’ve experienced. I think there’s definitely a passion for it, there’s a heritage and history that brands have, and the supply chain really drives a lot of it. It’s the same feeling you get when you’re at a denim trade show–the whole comradery of the denim family.
What challenges do you see ahead for the denim sector?
There are challenges related to sustainability and education. At Lenzing, we’ve been working on addressing sustainability from fiber to finished garments, taking a holistic approach. The brands are building their platforms and setting up goals around sustainability.
Education is very critical at the consumer level as well as on a B2B level, so they know what they’re buying. This has been an area that’s been interesting to watch with Denim Days and having more consumer interaction. When you see what’s out there on social media, people are questioning more where their products are coming from, the ingredients, how they’re being made, who is making them, what countries they’re being made in.
Price is another challenge—we’ve been in such a downward spiral, and will that pendulum swing and will there start to be a better understanding of value?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Perfection is the enemy of good. Just get going with things and be out there without worrying if everything is perfect.
What can other industries learn from the denim sector?
I think they can learn from the collaboration we have in the denim supply chain. I think they can learn how the history impacts the current state and how denim and fashion is really an expression of the mood of the times.
What’s exciting you about denim in 2019?
One specific thing that excited me was the ITMA sustainability award with Candiani. I also find the consumer programs we’ve been working in coming to market, especially some of the projects we’ve been working on with Kings of Indigo that will be coming out in the fall. What excites me is working closely with the brands and designers, especially related to Refibra.