Tom Cridland’s denim response to fast-fashion
Many in the industry are becoming aghast with fast-fashion. While there is
plenty of talk regarding sustainability in the industry, only a few brands
will actually put their money where their mouth is. Tom Cridland is one of
those companies as they have launched Half Century Jeans under Deborah
Marx, the managing director of Tom Cridland.
Tom Cridland is the company who originally became best known for their
thirty year sweatshirt, as they expanded into other categories, was a
logical step. Thus, Half Century Jean were born. The jeans are built from a
special hybrid of materials including Japanese selvedge denim sourced from
Okayama, along with ultra durable Spectra fibres which are 15 times
stronger than cable steel.
Tom Cridland designs durable denim
The jeans, as their name denotes, have a lifespan of 50 years, and should
anything happen to them, repairs and replacements are free of charge. For
customers who tend to like to replace their clothes frequently, they are
encouraged to donate to a charity shop or give them back to the company so
they can be recycled and turned into new jeans.
“We’re not claiming to reinvent the wheel,” said Marx to FashionUnited.
“People have kept clothing and valued it for a very long time throughout
history. Now we have “micro seasons” where people are developing clothing
every single week. It’s all a bit ludicrous to keep up and not very
sustainable, and a bad supply chain model.”
Half Century Jeans subscribes to the philosophy that as consumers, we need
to buy less and buy better, and to stop subscribing to the “fast-fashion”
mentality that has become so prevalent, and has made fashion the world’s
second most polluting industry.
“There’s two sides to it, the production and the mentality,” Marx said to
FashionUnited. “Half Century Jeans is a change in mentality because a lot
of talk around fast-fashion can be quite grim like ‘the planet can explode,
we’re all going to die.’ We add a fun element to an idea. Obviously, with
all this social media, people are posting new clothes the whole time and
trends are constantly changing. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t go out and
buy a nice floral print from time to time, but wardrobe staples should be
valued and kept. You see people go out and buy the same white t-shirt every
single year. With us, once you buy something you have something for
While many might wonder how this company manages to stay in business with
product lasting so long and people not needing to buy more, Marx says they
actually have a lot of repeat business. Customers will shop yearly for a
new color or cut they find on the brand’s website.
Currently, Half Century Jeans is strictly e-commerce, but luckily, they are
completely global, shipping everywhere in the world. The U.K. and U.S. are
their top two markets right now. A year ago, Marx did a two month road trip
throughout the U.S. starting in Boston and ending in Los Angeles. She told
FashionUnited what she discovered is that, “This a global concept. It’s not
limited to a certain geographic at all. We’ve had a lot of enthusiasm in
the U.S. It’s not a seasonal business either. We don’t like to appeal to
trends. People do buy our clothes year round. Some of our most loyal
customers are in Australia.”
Other international markets where Half Century Jeans are going strong
include Germany, Singapore and Mexico. While the company has considered
doing wholesale at points, Marx says they love the direct-to-consumer
model. Her and Cridland handle everything from customer service to public
relations. They do have a small logistics team that helps handle the
orders, but the other day-to-day operations are just Marx and Cridland.
According to Marx, being so hands on with everything has been great for
feedback. They hear directly from their customers and can find out what
people like and what people want.
One of the advantages of selling wardrobe staples is that people know what
size they are, and if a size doesn’t work it can be exchanged easily for a
smaller or larger one.
The brand’s suppliers come from Italy and Portugal, as Cridland is half
Portuguese and Marx is half Italian, so they thought it fitting to bring it
back to their roots for their supply chain. Marx says the fact that their
suppliers are all in Europe makes them easy to visit. They are able to meet
with them to come up with the samples, find the products they like, explain
the specifications and what they want the product to do. “It makes a huge
difference. Most people don’t even bother meeting their suppliers,” Marx
said to FashionUnited.
Although the company’s primary focus right now is their Half Century Jeans,
they plan to focus more on womenswear next, even though they stress that
many of their items are unisex. The plan is to introduce as many wardrobe
staples as possible to both men and women to provide more options.
photos: Courtesy of the brand
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