Artisan Cloth Creates Greatest Innovation Show in L.A. Arts District
Bringing together brands, mills and denim veterans, Artisan Cloth, along with partner Lenzing, the sustainable Austrian manufacturer of Tencel, recently co-hosted The Greatest Showroom Innovation Celebration—a circus-themed combination of a party and sourcing event based on the film “The Greatest Showman”—in the Arts District of Los Angeles.
As a showroom that includes premium denim and twill, Artisan Cloth is in the business of connecting brands with the fabrics and notions necessary to create a quality product, but this is only part of Artisan Cloth’s story. The focus of the event was to promote a sustainable-denim industry through innovative tools while creating a festive atmosphere for collaboration.
“Each of our mill partners put so much time into market research, fiber innovations, and an array of weaving and finishing techniques to try to pre-inspire fashion designers,” said Brad Alden Mowry, who owns Artisan Cloth with his wife, Danielle. “What the designers do next with our fabric innovations is next level. They take an excellent foundation and turn it into an incredible variety of finished products.”
Lenzing co-host Tricia Carey, director of global business development, emphasized how collaboration through sharing ideas was crucial to a progressive denim-manufacturing industry.
“It’s about having conscious collaboration where the partners are aligned with a similar mission and values,” she said. “Lenzing is nothing without our fabric mills and garment makers to bring our fiber to life in a garment. Each season, we see more interest in sustainability with the mill partners, and we’ve seen an increase in developments in using our fibers in their collections.”
Agreeing with Carey’s sentiment were the professionals in attendance, who felt the event cultivated an atmosphere through which creative approaches to clean denim could be explored by meeting with peers in a more casual environment.
Industry veterans from denim brands included Joe’s Jeans, Centric Brands, 7 For All Mankind, Principle Denim and House of Gold, and partners from mills included Japan’s Kurabo and branding, packaging and label manufacturer Labeltex.
“This approach helps to have genuine feedback and builds stronger relationships. Our customers shared the experiences with our products and what they expect from us in the future,” said Arlethe Sánchez,marketing and sample-room coordinator at Mexican denim mill Tavex. “We wanted to share our vision about the mill and information about our innovations for sustainable manufacturing. That is our goal.”
“We have to switch our mindsets,” said Mishel Imani, senior account executive and partner for the Los Angeles–based Labeltex. “Through the cohesiveness of people working together, we can have a nicer planet and environment for our grandkids. If not, they will be in a dump with no fish and no nature.”
While discussing the challenges of denim-industry sustainability, Imani mentioned that the demand for greener materials exists among brands, but convincing these companies that the slightly higher cost is worth the positive impact has slowed progress.
“A lot of them now are asking for recycled and sustainable products, but it’s hard because it’s a little bit more expensive. For them to think about their budget, the plastic bag costs 2 cents, now they have to pay approximately 3 cents, but you’re saving the earth,” said Imani, whose company creates biodegradable packaging and recycled-polyester labels. “Instead of putting the garment into a clear plastic bag, pay a little extra, and I give you a certificate that in six to eight months it dissolves in a landfill.”
In addition to larger companies who want to shift the industry, there were others who were promoting slower manufacturing. By giving vintage clothing new life through vegetable-dyeing processes that use cutch, chestnut, sumac, indigo and logwood, Susan Lee of the Wilder Showroom and Studio in Silver Lake, Calif., repurposes denim pieces creating new clothing in small batches through an initiative she refers to as seed-to-cloth.
“The great thing about this event is you can put together a brand,” she explained. “There are fabrics, a trim guy is here, I have vintage here for inspiration and the conceptual stage of designing. He [Mowry] is trying to recreate a one-stop shop. It’s great to put all the different denim people, at different levels, together to support each other.”
Despite focusing on the serious topic of promoting sustainability, the event’s theme of “The Greatest Showroom” brought an element of fun to the event. While guests enjoyed cocktails and appetizers, an aerialist performed acrobatic feats, grasping a floor-to-ceiling-length piece of fabric.
“If we can’t have fun with what we do, then it’s just a job. This is about bringing everyone together. That is where the ideas happen,” Lenzing’s Carey explained. “That is why I love having this event—people have fun.”
Photos courtesy of Lenzing.