When Triarchy was in “full bloom” I remember discussing with Adam and Ania Taubenfligel, founders and creators of Triarchy, about the possibilities and probabilities of turning Triarchy into a fully sustainable brand.
Adam was very serious and concerned about this. Then, about a year ago, he decided to put everything on hold and re-start his company, making it fully environmentally friendly and – most importantly – reduce the use of water significantly when manufacturing the denim.
You can read more about this here.
We were curious about exactly what has been happening with Triarchy and asked Adam a few questions.
Q: I remember you and Ania discussing with me about what I thought of sustainable denim. That was about two years ago. What was the deciding factor for you to go this way?
A: The straw that broke the camel’s back was being shown the film “The True Cost”. Seeing the film really opened our eyes to the realities behind what is going on in the fashion industry, and it really highlighted for us, as fashion business owners, the responsibility that we had. We knew that we didn’t want to continue making jeans unless we could make them better, and teach people about how to look for the right things when they’re shopping.
Since the switch we’ve been working with the amazing team from the film “The River Blue” to get this message out more and more. The film is a MUST SEE.
Q: You already had a well established brand. To stop all and practically re-start from the beginning, weren’t you worried that people might forget about Triarchy in the meantime?
A: Well for us it was more of the reality that we weren’t going to continue doing things traditionally either way, so this was the only choice we had. We knew that if we took the brand offline and reintroduced it as we had planned, then it would resonate with people and continue.
Q: You are producing your jeans in Mexico now as opposed to the US, where you manufactured the jeans previously. How did you go about changing all and moving your facilities to Mexico?
A: We were introduced to our current factory in Mexico by our old laundry here in L.A. The owner of our old laundry was passionate about what they were doing and explained to us why it was so much more difficult to be sustainable in the US. And that we were better off heading south. One trip to the factory in Mexico and we knew we were home. Surprisingly it wasn’t that difficult, being a neighboring country and all. The difficulties come with the prototyping and manufacturing because you aren’t there every day to oversee what is going on. So you have to be very clear with the language you are using to get points across. I’m continuing to work on my Spanish…
Q: #how much water are you wearing is your slogan. What exactly does this entail?
A: It was so shocking to us to learn that it can take up to 2900 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans from start to finish. That’s the equivalent of almost 11,000 1L bottles of water. Think about that for a min. So it became clear to us that we needed to get that message out and by asking “How much water are you wearing”, it piques peoples’ interest. There are better ways to make clothing, and while it might not be possible for every brand to do every thing possible they should at least try, and if they’re not trying then you shouldn’t support them. Period.
Q: How can the consumer know about this? How can he find out if the jeans he is about to buy are within the sustainable range?
A: When you’re about to buy anything from any brand, do a simple search on their website to see if they talk about their sustainability efforts. If they don’t, it likely means that they aren’t doing anything at all. Shoot them an email and ask about their water consumption. More often than not I don’t get a very thorough response to that question.
Q: How can brands. especially denim brands, inform and educate consumers about it?
A: By being transparent about their practices and talking about their water consumption. It’s getting easier and easier to make denim better so if you’re a brand, look into it, and do it.
Q: You are collaborating with the ISLA Urbana Foundation. Please tell us about it.
A: We had been looking for a foundation to join forces with so we could give back through the sale of our denim. It took a while but when our good friend Afdhel from the Conspiracy of Love, and author of the amazing book “Good is the New Cool” introduced us to Isla Urbana we knew we found the right people. They build and install rain water catchment systems to people in Mexico without access to fresh water. It’s an amazing and sustainable way to provide people with fresh water and we’re really looking forward to building a relationship with them.
Q: Now, about your new denim collections. What kind of denim are you using?
A: We are using denim with Tencel for women because as you know Tencel uses considerably less water to grow than cotton, so that in itself slashes our water consumption before we even get our hands on the material. Then of course we use recycled metal for our buttons and rivets and make our labels out of recycled water bottles. Manufacturing, of course, in a facility that recycles 85% of the water used during production. All of these efforts aid in reducing the total amount of water used per pair of Triarchy Jeans.
Q: How do you see Triarchy moving forward?
A: We will continue to grow our Triarchy core denim range so that we have something to offer to everyone. I want to be able to give everyone a sustainable option for denim whether they’re looking for something dark and fitted or loose and casual. Sometimes it’s hard because we have a pretty tight brand sense as to what we can make due to it being sustainable or not, so we do what we can.
Q: You also have a new line, called Triarchy Atelier. What exactly is the difference between these two brands?
A: Triarchy is newly made, sustainable produced denim and our Triarchy Atelier line is new garments made from vintage denim and sustainable trims. Triarchy is made in the aforementioned factory in Mexico and our Atelier line is made in Downtown Los Angeles.
Q: All and everything these days is about vintage denim, which is also a way of being sustainable. Instead of producing new denim fabrics, you use what is out there already. How do you feel about it?
A: The possibilities are endless, and its so much fun to work with. Everything we make with Atelier is different from the thing we made before it because no two pieces of denim are the same. It makes for unique pieces and we’re repurposing so much material that would not normally have a second life.
Q: Where do you see Triarchy in five years from now?
A: We want Triarchy to be the go to sustainable jean, stocked in fine retailers around the world and Atelier hanging alongside it. As well we really want to grow the online offerings available around the world for both lines. We want the name Triarchy to be synonymous with sustainability and water saving efforts, which is why we always start by asking: “How much water are you wearing?”.