Did you know it can take up to 3,000 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans? Neither did we, until we spoke with Adam Taubenfligel, who co-founded Canadian denim company Triarchy with his sister five years ago. It’s one of the reasons why the siblings launched Atelier Denim, an offshoot of Triarchy that’s focused on more sustainable practices. We caught up with the pair when they showed their latest collection at Re\Set in Toronto to talk re-worked vintage, their goals for both their brands, and why we all need to think harder about what we spend our money on.
Where do the pieces you create for Atelier Denim start?
Adam: I break down vintage pairs of denim and then we reimagine them, reconstruct them and add luxury trim. I was always trying to achieve vintage-looking washes, and we used so much water. It was obscene. We had to stop doing that, and there’s so much available denim that already exists. For some of the trim, I work with a mill in France that does a lot of the wovens for Chanel. I do custom fabrics with them so we can do crazy stuff.
How has going this route affected your production costs?
Adam: Becoming sustainable is really expensive. For example, our labels are recycled leather and our woven labels are made from recycled water bottles. If you’re buying luxury and it’s made in China, you really need to rethink your purchase. I worked in China for three years and I know the margins. It’s shocking. Know what you’re buying and care about what you’re buying.
Have you taken any steps to make your main label, Triarchy, more sustainable?
Adam: We made Triarchy fully sustainable. We switched from cotton denim to cotton-tencel denim, which reduces our water consumption to 1,300 gallons per pair. We use recycled hardware and leather, and our factory in Mexico City recycles 85 percent of the water used in denim production.
Is this something you’ve wanted to do for a while?
Ania: We’ve become very confident in our brand and we reached a point where we wanted a more creative outlet within the parameters of our sustainable mission.
What was the biggest hurdle when you were creating Atelier?
Adam: The biggest challenge was finding sustainable vendors. And getting that information is really challenging. My friends Beyond The Label in L.A are working hard to create a database so that there is a resource for everything sustainable, because it is such a challenge.
Was it all worth it?
Adam: Absolutely. Once you have it rolling you’re fine. You just have to put in that effort and care.
Ania: It just shows you the potential of denim. It’s one of the oldest materials. Denim has such a cool history and an amazing future.