…Tony Tonnaer, CEO und Gründer von K.O.I. – Kings Of Indigo. Bevor der Niederländer, der schon lange im Denim-Bereich arbeitet, K.O.I. gründete, war er Chef bei Kuychi. Wir haben 5 Fragen an ihn:
Tony, please let us know: Why is denim your favorite material?
TT: I have been working 17 years with denim and indigo, and I love how you can get so much out of this fabric. A pair of jeans seems so simple, but so many aspects are needed to make the perfect pair. A good pattern, proper constructions, quality trims and lots of variety in indigo colours in fabric and washes. The possibilities just never end. That gives a lot of inspiration, motivation and innovation.
You’ve been CEO of Kuyichi and are the founder of K.O.I., so you have been or are working with two of the biggest European Ethical Fashion Brands. What do you think, from your experience, is most important to make Ethical Fashion successful?
TT: The most important is to make a quality product while taking care of the environment in a smart way. The jeans have to feel great, fit well and look amazing, just like conventional jeans. The key to success is to keep improving on product, communication and service. Create from the heart, while looking at the consumer and retailer, then bring these 2 together.
There’s a long history of activism for better working conditions in the textile industry in the Netherlands. The Clean Clothes Campaign has been founded there, as a reaction to protests against C&A, and Organisations like FairWearFoundation or MadeBy are based there as well. Do you think that the Dutch Public is very aware of these issues? Are the Netherlands a particularly good country for selling Organic and Fair Fashion?
TT: The Dutch always have been traders and looking for how to cater the right product in denim and fashion to the market, conventional and sustainable. As the Dutch travel a lot they also like to create a proper life for the partners who make the product these days, other than 3 centuries ago, when we exploited the third world countries by getting their workforce and resources. To be honest, I think the German consumer is more open to ethical fashion and to buying a honest and quality product than the Dutch. But the demand for these kind of ethical and cool products it is slowly getting stronger. There is no way back.
In terms of making Ethical Fashion more mainstream, what do you think is the way to go: to convince the big brands and retailers to be more sustainable, or try and make existing Ethical Fashion Brands bigger to compete with the mainstream brands?
TT: I think most big brands are already working on making production more sustainable, so I think the whole industry will have to change. This will happen, but it takes time as the big companies need more time to change. For smaller brands like us it’s a bit easier, although being small brings other challenges. For example it is hard to produce small quantities sustainable and affordable, due to minimums in buying organic and recycled fabrics and in production lines.
TT: 10 years ago when I started at Kuyichi, there were not many consumers, retailers and factories interested. Now most stakeholders are aware, but the change is unavoidable. In 10 years I hope there will be a good manmade fibre alternative to cotton with very similar aesthetics and comfort. That will help to clean up the pollution in cotton growing. I think the manufacturing will come closer and closer to the countries where the product is being sold, so more European brands will ore denim to Turkey, Tunisia, Marocco, Italy, Portugal and Eastern Europe. Easier to control and to manage, close to the markets. In washing there is already a big development in laser-ozone washes with hardly any chemicals, water and less energy, in 10 years most washes will be done with that technique or another innovative technique. Consumers will be even more aware what they buy and from whom.
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