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Red Light Denim

Sustainable by nature, not by image

We all love denim and jeans. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of energy, CO2 and water to produce them. Which is why James Veenhoff – also known as ‘James Jeans’ or ‘Denim Guru’ - wanted to think of a way to make the production process more sustainable.

James’ idea resulted in a cooperation between House of Denim and Kings of Indigo. House of Denim is a foundation, started by James, that wants to improve knowledge, innovation and sustainability within the Amsterdam jeans industry. Kings of Indigo is an Amsterdam based denim brand, which is inspired by the Japanese eye for detail in creating innovative, quality products and is influenced by the American heritage of jeans. As one of Kings of Indigo’s key brand values is care for the environment, the cooperation with House of Denim – situated in the same city – is hardly surprising.

No reference to the past

Together, House of Denim and Kings of Indigo created a denim collection made from 18% recycled jeans fibres, locally sourced in Amsterdam. The non-recycled part originates from organic cotton. This unique collection is called ‘Red Light Denim’. Names that were referring to ‘recycled’ or ‘sustainable’ were carefully avoided, as this would emphasise the past and the fact the jeans were thrown away. Instead, James wanted to draw attention to the cool factor and the Amsterdam lifestyle image of the jeans.

Recycling jeans is far from obvious. First of all, the tough and cool image of jeans is hard to combine with recycling. Furthermore, recycling jeans is a more complicated and expensive process than non-recycled jeans production. Besides, there were no existing standards for jeans recycling and the necessary technology is spread out over many different countries.

Jeans & Aprons

Sympany, a Dutch foundation which collects used textile for recycling purposes, made a budget available for a pilot project, which allowed James to buy his own 18% recycled denim cloth. As Kings of Indigo also decided to buy a kilometre of this unique denim cloth, the price could be lowered. Consequently, the project really kicked off. Sympany collected denim, which was refiberised and then spinned, woven and cut. The final result are great looking jeans – Kings of Indigo launched two different models -, and eh… aprons, which are designed by House of Denim.

Eiffel Tower jeans

James proves that using recycled fibres for jeans can be economically profitable. He likes the idea of exporting his concept to other cities and create – for instance - an Eiffel Tower jeans. Other jeans manufacturers are welcomed, as a larger market will result in a lower price of the recycled cloth. And a more sustainable environment in the long run.

Kings of Indigo