In the last part of our Denim Dudes x Soorty female entrepreneur project we showcase the final outfits of these four inspiring women working in the denim industry

If you’ve been keeping up with Denim Dudes travels this year then you would’ve no doubt caught our recent trip out to Turkey where we visited NASDA, the development lab of Pakistani denim manufacturer Soorty. For 3 days, the Soorty team hosted a special workshop as the final step of our collaboration with the mill and the four very successful, bright and inspiring female entrepreneurs of our industry.

If you aren’t up to speed on the project, the concept came about through a mutual appreciation between Soorty and Denim Dudes around equality in the denim industry and the need to highlight the many influential, strong women in our industry. As a stalwart supporter of female empowerment, Soorty prides itself on its strong female workforce that powers the forward-thinking company and the idea of this project was to promote a collective story of what denim represents to women and what it means to be a woman working in denim today. Moving from the idea towards realization, we’ve conducted design meetings in NYC, shared inspirations and moodboards and finally getting out to the NASDA lab in Çorlu where Ani, Maria, Harmony and Alexis all got to see their garments being made and do some realtime customisations of their own.

We’ve invited four denim dudettes from around the world for this valuable project; female entrepreneurs with their very own, exclusive style to work for us through the journey. Each was asked to design a full outfit to represent them – what they stand for when it comes to denim, what they think, feel, speak for.

This, hence, also became a great chance to discover and show how versatile denim is as a fabric; and how it can be used as a canvas to represent so many different styles, looks and attributes.

After our first design meeting in NY and a lot of emailing and conversations; Soorty’s Innovation Lab who welcomes customers and denim enthusiasts from around the world to come and experiment with denim, develop capsule collections and pioneer game changing innovations, NASDA, knew exactly what to offer them – Eda Dikmen, Soorty’s Marketing & Communications Manager Marketing

Despite having four very distinguishable styles, each of the four women were united in their social responsibility concerns and highlighted low impact considerations as being of paramount importance when deciding on fabrics, finishes and design. With a state-of-the-art facility that features the latest machinery for responsible denim design, the NASDA team were fully equipped to show the women how they can create the most fire fits without compromising the environment. After documenting the process at the lab, here we take a look at the final outfits as styled by each of the women:

Alexis Colby of @bitofdenim is a re-make and re-cycle aficionado. She describes her personal style as “Tomboy Chic” as likes to mix a pair of baggy shorts or jeans with an “element of sexy” such as a 90’s inspired bustier. Brands that inspire her include MargielaGaultier and Ottolinger but she also calls out powerful women who influence her life and her outlook, such as Janice Blanchard. In Alexis’ opinion “you can’t beat a pair of Airforce 1’s and a crisp vintage pair of Levi’s”. For her ultimate denim look she designed an elongated fitted trucker jacket on ecru with indigo tie dye finish, a bi-stretch denim bustier with ultimate style and comfort and a sustainable remake of her favorite, perfectly worn-in jeans.

For my jeans I wanted to recreate a pair of Levi’s the I really love and I wear nearly everyday. And for the bustier, I encorporate them in my wardrobe all the time as I have a collection of vintage ones and I make a denim bustier myself. For this project I wanted to create a version that was constructed well because Im teaching myself to sew everyday so my learning process isn’t as defined as this one. This was an opportunity to create a perfect one with the Soorty team. The jacket I’d seen when I was working a freelance job and I was like “Yo! This jacket in denim would be lit!”

The experience at NASDA has been amazing and beyond what I expected. This is actually my first time seeing a factory first hand too. I have seen it online but its way different actually being here. Even smelling the aromas of the indigo. Its dope! I dreamt about it but it has been more than what I dreamt. It’s been truly eye opening and educational. It has been an amazing experience to see the process of making a pair of jeans. Even though I reconstruct, this has given me a whole deeper understanding of creating jeans from scratch, from fabric to wash and cut and sew.

My goal for 2020 is to finally release a full collection as I’ve just been doing little pieces up until now. I also want to introduce jewellery and small bags into the line. I think having this project in december and close to the new year it planned out perfectly as it gives you time to plan out what you want to do and put in the effort for 2020.

Ani Wells of @simplysuzette has made it her mission to educate consumers on responsibly jeans shopping throughout her online platform and store that decodes the often tricky messages around sustainability. Empowerment through social responsibility, it was only natural that Ani focused on timeless classic wardrobe staples that are not only eco-conscious in composition and processes but also through the garments lifecycle. She has combined a lightweight summer peasant blouse with a classic 5 pocket straight leg jean that is based off the measurements of her favourite pairs to create the perfect one that didn’t exist. To complete the look Ani opted for a lightweight parka jacket with oversized proportions and featuring modular utility pockets in an organic, unbleached cotton. Ani is also interested in using natural dyes to create a bespoke finish on the jacket.

For me, I wanted to create the perfect pair of jeans. I’d been writing down and keeping track of the measurements of my favourite pairs of jeans over the years. I put them all together and the Soorty team created them for me. I don’t have a pair of jeans that fit like this so it was amazing to be able to create a unique and perfect everyday pair of jeans. I’ve always wanted to create that pattern incase in the future I want to produce my own jeans line. I created the shirt because I’ve always wanted a peasant blouse so I was like I might as well make one out of denim. The jacket came from my love of tie-dye, I was inspired by Free People and also the Alberta Ferretti’s SS19 collection which was honestly my favourite collection ever, so I really wanted to replicate something in that vein.

The trip to Soorty’s development centre was above my expectations. I’ve tried to educate myself on the process before but I really didn’t understand it until seeing it all happen here at NASDA. And also just seeing the people who made my garments really touched me because you don’t really think about that side of manufacturing as much usually. I got into ethics and sustainability through the ethics side initially, but now that I’m so into the environmental side, I sometimes forget about the human side to it. So for me just seeing how happy the people here were and how passionate they are about their roles and loving what they’re doing made me happy too. They were super happy to be part of this female led project too, which was humbling to see.

Right now I think the goal for 2020 is to try and freelance more. I feel like I’m doing a lot to build up my personal brand but I haven’t quite reached out to others to start collaborating or working together. It’s more just people that have approached me. But now I want to start reaching out to people that I really want to work with.

Harmony Hendrix’s personal style is inspired by the interbellum period and her Soorty denim designs honour the avant garde women of the 1920’s & 1930’s that weren’t afraid to go against the status quo and push beyond gender related fashion norms. “Writers, artists, fashion designers, creatives and other feminists would start wearing pants (and suits) – a fashion item that exclusively belonged to the male gender. These women paved the way for us. And paved the way for women in denim.” To realize this concept, Harmony created a 3 piece suit using selvedge, raw denim to emphasize the strong and clean aesthetic of the 1920’s and 30’s tailoring.

For me, the inspiration was a new women movement of the 1920s and 1930s which was an avant-garde movement of women who started wearing menswear like pants and jeans which was not common in those times at all. They paved the way for us to wear our jeans right now. The 30s is also my favourite era. I wear a lot of menswear and it’s difficult to find a suit in tiny ladies sizes, so this was the opportunity to make it. 

I really enjoyed the hands on aspect of the project out here in Turkey. But also the craftsmanship part and actually being able to see the people actually work on your piece and seeing the different steps it goes through. I have seen some of the steps before but here you really seeing the whole loop in one place which is really insightful. Also seeing the other girls creations is also really inspiring. Their ideas and their ways of making their own garments has been really nice.

For this past year, I already had it on my list to expand CKX as a brand. Now at least a start is made and I hope to launch some real garments under the CKX name for 2020. I really hope to continue working with Soorty to help develop my ideas and launch a small collection.

Finally, Swedish designer Maria Gunnarsson of @amk.atelier choose to base her concept around the functional everyday lifestyle of her home-from-home Amsterdam. Inspired by smart functionality, conscious craft and natural, classic colouring, she created an eco-conscious and highly functional look, designed with sustainability in mind, using responsibly made fabrics and wash processes combined with high performance finishing. For ultimate insulation and comfort in cold weather, the parka is supported by internal quilted insulation lining. Maria’s look continues with a relaxed fit workwear jacket we’ve dyed with FIX-D; the world’s first water free garment dyeing technology that was introduced earlier this year by Soorty, and a highly volumed trouser pant. Closing up the look, to create the perfect flow from hues of ecru – light blue – and inky dark indigo, Maria designed herself a beautiful hat that Soorty produced from their fabric RELOVE that is 99% recycled content!

My main piece for the outfit was the parka which took the longest time to get all the details right. It’s a fishtail parka with some nice quilted front details with drawstrings and a hidden strap on the interior which means you can carry it over your shoulder when you’re not wearing it. It was made from a linen composition with a beautiful crosshatch construction and crispy hand. It also features a lamination which makes it almost water-repellent.

The experience at NASDA was nice as I now have completely free hands after resigning from my full-time design role. It meant I could do whatever I want from the fabric selections at Soorty. Design-wise I could pick whatever I liked, I could choose fabrics without feeling like there was minimal quantities. It was just a sustainable aspect that I had with it that gave me some limitationsThe ladies here are super talented and totally realised my sketches which made the collaboration a really joyful experience from the start. I got to work closely with the head of pattern cutting who showed me the whole process of how she created the patterns for my items from prototype to the final piece.

There are plenty of ideas for next year and Im super excited to get started on them after this project with Soorty. Things changed in my life last year for work. Im now open to a lot more creative things and this project was a very good thing to end this year with and I will go into more technical and creative projects for next year and also educate to get more people with blue hands and inspire them to do their own things.


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Denim trend consultant, owner of @samutaro

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