Conscious Consumerism

Mary- Life After Death Denim

recycled, retailerNick OgdenComment

For a while now I have been admiring a really cool Instagram account for their sweet shots and their fantastic philosophy, Life After Death Denim. If you aren't aware of the impact of big brand denim manufacturing it is extremely detrimental to our planet; 3,781 litres of water is used in 1 pair of Levi's, 33.5 kilos of CO2 emissions during lifespan of Levi's, 3year typical lifespan of a pair of Levi's. Levi's are just one example of a denim brand; Calvin Klein, Guess, Diesel, and other big brands are all similarly at fault. Creating a denim company is not cheap or easy. During my discussion with Mary she shed some insight into the industry and had some really interesting points that I have never even thought of.

Mary, Life After Death Denim, designer, environmentalist, fantastic conversationalist, and overall really nice lady. She has been in the denim world, designing for brands like Levi's and Ralph Lauren for decades, she knows whats up with denim. Credentials aside, Mary has this fire to create a denim brand that has a far less environmental impact then the big brands that is extremely inspiring. 

Life After Death Denim has been emerging out of Los Angeles, California, sense October of 2016 building momentum ever sense. The idea stemmed during a conference on transparency in the fashion industry which Mary was attending. She sat and listened and let her mind go to work. She immediately thought that to be transparent a fashion brand must have sustainability baked into its core code of ethics, fundamentally the bedrock which it is built. Mary needed a break from the conference and went for a walk, as she strolled around the outside the conference centre she had an epiphany, a denim brand using only recycled or dead-stock products; not adding to the waste that a typical fashion brand creates. Life After Death Denim was born. 

What is the vision for what the brand represents? 

The brand represents a new era of using what we have; using dead stock, recycled materials to make high quality new products.
— Mary
 Mary, Life After Death Denim 

Mary, Life After Death Denim 

Throughout our conversation Mary kept stressing this point, we need to start looking around at the resources we have and learn how to create products from materials that are on hand. If we don't need to make a new garment out of new material then why are why?! During her time with Levi Straus and Ralph Lauren she stressed this point, her team and managers liked the idea but the mechanics of big business moved to slow to make real change. 

Will you be expanding your collections to include all body types

Absolutely! All of our processes that make us who we are are unisex but right now its the cost that is setting us back. Creating a fashion line means spending lots of time and money of developing fits but we will get there!
— Mary

Mary explained to me that every one of her pieces are made by hand and as she put it, 100 hands touch each garment. That is 100 hands that are treated well and paid accordingly. Mary went into detail about the realities of her costs constraints, her garments are above a typical garments and that it leaves out some consumers but thinks consumers need to start to understand the real price of garments. Mary also went into detail about the difficulties about selling to men, in her experience she has found that men are more analytical, do more research, more critical but are willing to spend more for garments that are worth the money. 

Where do you do your dead stock and recycled components come from? 

Big warehouses in L.A.. We literally go digging through 5x5x4 foot bins of recycled and dead stock. We often get denim material from military and postal service suppliers for their high quality and abundance.
— Mary

How are your pieces made? 

Every piece is hand sanded with sand paper, we use a proprietary CO2 ozone closed loop destressor, new clean wizer wash system.
— Mary

Mary gave us some insight into the typical abrasion processes, which uses Turkish rocks that nick and wear, bleach and harmful chemicals. The rocks that a lot of used come from one hill in Turkey, shipped to where ever the manufacturers are, used until powdered (usually one or two uses), and then the process is repeated. This process is extremely laborious and a prime example of an open loop system. Through Life After Death Denim Mary wants to show all fashion manufacturers that there are much more sustainable ways to produce garments now. 

Do you have any words of wisdom or closing remarks? 

I want to inspire the next generation of denim brands to eliminate chemicals and wasteful processes. Have patience. Denim brands take a lot of time mature and catch on. Keep grinding. Lets continue to ask why and question big brands about their processes. We are an example of what the future looks like and what is possible.
— Mary

As a guy trying to create an almost gorilla movement of conscious consumers to push brands to make sustainable choices Mary has inspired me to keep fighting. Through our brief phone call it is clear that Mary has so much to give to the fashion and design industry and to all entrepreneurs. I can't wait to see what she creates through Life After Death Denim and beyond. 

Thank you for reading and don't forget, you can change the world.