Nermin Köse views the denim industry through a multi-faceted lens.
As founder of the consultancy, Denim Look, and the sustainable jeans brand, Away Denim, the Turkish denim expert takes a 360-degree approach to developing new collections, examining how the story of each new innovation or sustainable collection can be effectively communicated to consumers.
Köse broke into denim as a design assistant for denim garment manufacturing company Rimaks in Istanbul, “It was a well-known denim supplier for Europe with crafted skills on creating cool washes and designs, which was also a school for me and many other denim professionals,” she said.
From there, Köse went on to launch her own collection of sustainable denim, dubbed Away Denim, and shares her denim expertise at the Istanbul Fashion Academy where she’s a lecturer for denim wash techniques and sustainable denim.
Recently, Köse has turned her attention to consulting for mills with design, concept development, marketing and training through Denim Look, the denim consultancy company she founded in 2009. The company collaborates with professional designers, creative agencies and social media managers to optimize the impact and commercial success of sustainable solutions in the denim industry.
Köse recently developed sustainable concepts—and the supporting marketing strategies—for two Turkish mills, Iskur Denim and Kilim Denim. She consulted on Iskur’s WAW technology, which reduces water usage in the dyeing process by 80 percent and helped develop Kilim’s Re Create fabric made with post-consumer denim.
And after 15 years in the business, Köse remains inspired by denim’s boundless potential. “The best thing about denim is it is limitless. With only with one fabric, you can reach many colors and shapes,” she said. “[Denim] reminds me of sculptors [and how] they choose a material for their work and go on with it for lifetime. Denim has the same feeling—it is between design and craft.”
Here, Köse chats with Rivet about the steps the denim industry needs to take in order to advance sustainable innovations, and why simple designs remain her favorite.
Rivet: What are you seeing or hearing in the denim industry that motivates you?
NK: Seeing sustainability and innovation become a headline really motivates me, not only on the denim mill side, but also by the garment manufacturers and brands. When I see that, the opportunity to create something better for earth fuels my creativity.
Rivet: What is your pet peeve about current denim design?
NK: That’s tricky. The thing is, I am into denim design because it is about simplicity, which makes it timeless as a product. I prefer to see more that kind of designs for denim. I’m not interested in seeing over-designed product.
Rivet: What’s the status of the Turkish denim industry?
NK: The Turkish denim industry has very strong players in both garment manufacturing and mills. The country has a textile heritage which is engaged with innovation and nowadays sustainability. Turkey builds globally known denim and clothing labels, excelling in design and wash development, garment supply process with an ethical approach and quality denim mills with effective marketing strategies. These areas are becoming stronger than ever in the industry. Hurdles like the economic crisis that we have been going through may have some effects, but its effects that many other countries have experienced before. An economic crisis—along with competition—can be a [starting point] to set new standards for the better.
Rivet: What are some common missteps that you see in marketing sustainable denim?
NK: One of the biggest gaps in communication is we cannot translate the sustainable innovation that we’ve made in fabrics and garment technologies to the end consumer. Denim mills, garment suppliers and brand should collaborate to develop creative green marketing strategies. We need more platforms for all of the players in the industry to come together, share ideas and operate to make an impact on reducing the negative effects of the industry and make sustainability a norm. Rivet has an enormous effect as a media channel. We can understand and know a bit more about all components of the denim industry.
Rivet: What is the next step the denim industry needs to take in sustainability?
NK: I guess it is not possible to answer this without thinking of denim as a part of the global apparel industry. We all have to reprogram the way we think about business. Collaboration, sustainable innovations and raising the awareness have accelerating effects. We should keep this in mind.
Rivet: What are the key fashion trends in denim for 2019?
NK: Silhouettes are getting looser. We will have more transformation with fits, which will bring the next big thing: secondhand mania. We will see more upcycled and vintage looks in a contemporary way. And ’80s and ’90s vibes will be also be in.
Rivet: What will we see less of in 2019?
NK: Skinny and distressed washes peaked for a while, but they will be fading away.