Denim Trend Update: New York Denim Days

Time for a “new” pair of jeans. What’s your strategy?

Search Instagram to see what your favorite influencer is wearing?

Head to the vintage shop in hopes of finding the perfect pair?

Visit your own closet and determine how you can repurpose a pair you’ve already got?

Do not pass go—straight to Barneys?

Denim is a staple in most closets, no matter how you choose your next pair of jeans. And while there’s very little chance any of us will give up our beloved Levis, as responsible designers and consumers, we have to take into consideration a tough truth: the denim industry is a major contributor to environmental waste.

Take a look at this Levi Strauss & Co infographic detailing the impact of a pair of 501s:

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Given the designers and manufacturers that when they “know better, do better,” trends in the denim industry are moving toward a more responsibly-made product. Some companies are even heading off the chance that ill-fitting jeans will end up in land fills by ensuring a proper fit before consumers purchase a new pair.

At New York’s recent denim showcase, Denim Days, we spotted trends that support a more thoughtful and sustainable approach to the production and sale of denim in America.

First up, meet Claudia Gontovnik. Given the “new” pair of jean strategies listed above, former stylist turned designer Gontovnik would either take off for the nearest vintage store or head right back to her own closet to repurpose what she already owns.

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Of her repurposed denim line, Claudia says, “I needed to express my creative intent and social responsibility to giving new life to items that previously had one. I can contribute by stopping the feeding of toxic chemicals into our environment when I use what has already been produced. My mission then is to inspire a sustainable way to be stylish and each unique piece represents a statement for me and for the person who chooses to wear it.”

The innovative people at Alvanon are making sure that the denim you do decide to buy fits – thereby eliminating stacks and stacks of jeans in your closet (and ultimately landfills) that simply don’t fit. Through a partnership with TG3D Studio, a body scanning technology company, they take the guesswork of measurements and sizing out of the equation and the consumer gets the right fit, the first time.

On a larger scale, companies work with Alvanon to scan thousands of consumers in order to create a product based on data drawn directly from their consumer base in terms of fit. Therefore, Alvanon makes it possible for companies to reduce guesswork and trial and error (read: waste) as they develop and produce new products for their loyal customers.


Alvanon wasn’t alone at Denim Days. Tonello, a garment-finishing machinery company committed to designing machinery that uses less energy and additives to alter raw denim, unveiled the Laser Blaze, a machine that that produces vintage effects on denim with the use of a laser beam. To show the machine’s capabilities, designers used the technology to show off their visions for denim design:

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New York Denim Days ended with denim designers showing their most recent collections, many of which embraced sustainability practices including upcycling used denim or incorporating eco-friendly technology in the production of new garments. Maybe the best example of responsible denim owners were those who attended Denim Days—peep their style here.

Tell us, how are you an environmentally responsible designer? What steps do you take to eliminate waste in our industry? And as a consumer, what questions do you ask before buying a garment? Please let us know in the comments below.

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.