Kuyichi Makes Sustainable Denim Look Cool
Denim, a style staple for most of us, has one of the least sustainable manufacturing processes in the fashion industry, but recent innovations mean that there are options for those looking to be a more eco-friendly alternative.
According to Fashion Revolution, the denim industry sends more than 250 million yards of leftover fabric to landfills every year. Additionally, it can take 11,000 litres of water to produce just one pair of jeans and the mass dumping of dye chemicals in rivers in key denim manufacturing countries, such as China and India, is turning the water an unnatural shade of blue.
Luckily, the wheels are starting to turn! New brands working to make jackets, jeans, and other denim highlights better for the planet are being more and more prevalent. We’re excited to introduce you to our new favorite: Kuyichi.
It all started with a trip in the year 2000.
The Dutch founders of Kuyichi were exploring the cotton industry in Peru and were shocked by the pollution and poverty they discovered during their research process. The destruction of the industry, especially on farmers, was striking. During that time, air pollution in urban areas was so severe that it caused thousands of premature deaths every year. In fact, air quality in Lima was worse than in other large Latin American cities, such as Mexico City or Sao Paulo. Additionally, poverty during that time was in crisis mode, the worst it had ever been.
The solution was simple:
“The most commonly worn product made of cotton is a pair of jeans, so we started making 100% organic denim.”
And in 2001, so came Kuyichi; aptly named after the Peruvian god of the Rainbow. Their goal was to start the organic revolution, to inspire other brands to also choose for organic cotton and other sustainable fibres.
Sure there are a lot of ethical brands emerging, but the extent of Kuyichi's conscious efforts to help the world while keeping a transparent brand ethos makes them stand out from the rest. Kuyichi products are:
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton
Offering select styles with, instead of a leather patch, a vegan material called Jacron - which is made of recycled paper.
Made using recycled polyester (plastic bottles are collected, shredded and re-spun)
Made post-consumer recycled denim
Made using Tencel (eucalyptus wood pulp) and Linen (made from the flax plant, it’s one of the strongest fibres known to man)
Made using 100% natural dyes
Kuyichi isn’t just looking out for the planet, but also for the people who are vital to making their jeans. Continuing their commitment to transparency, Kuyichi suppliers all over the world have sworn to their Code of Conduct. Taking environmental and social responsibility for their actions, the brand also selects their suppliers with extreme care, setting precedent for other likeminded brands. You can view their full sustainability report here.
Peep our chat below with the Kuyichi team as we discuss process and production, inspirations, and the future.
What is the philosophy behind the creation of Kuyichi?
Kuyichi was founded with the idea to inspire others and show that it can be done. We wanted to improve conditions in the cotton farming industry. Conventional cotton has a huge negative impact on the planet as well as the surrounding communities. In 2000 - when the idea of Kuyichi was born - organic cotton was not known or used in the fashion industry at all. We were the first for organic and wanted to show that organic cotton can be style conscious. The first organic shirt collection was launched in 2001, the first organic types of denim followed soon in 2004.
You make great, sustainable jeans that stand the test of time. Tell us a little about your denim and why Kuyichi stands out from the denim crowd?
Kuyichi now keeps pushing to improve conditions. Not only on the cotton farms but throughout the whole supply chain. We still want to inspire others by adopting new innovations and sustainable ideas. That is why we adopted the idea of slow fashion. We want to go against the pressure of this fashion system in which winter coats land in stores while it’s 30 degrees outside. Instead, we offer our styles all year round, do no discounts and have a lot of - denim - styles that travel over the seasons. Your perfect black denim never goes out of style so why change it?
At Kuyichi, you strive to work in a transparent way. What does this mean? How important is it for you to educate the consumer on your products?
We believe that everybody should be able to find out where and how their product was made. That is why you can find our full supplier list with detailed information on our site. So if you want, you can dive in and learn all about the effort we put in every Kuyichi item. From the fibre to the finishing to the trims.
Most consumers won’t buy a product only because it is sustainable. In the first place, we make a good product that also happens to be sustainable. That is how we try to educate the consumer. Lure them in with the product and then give them information about our practices.
Authenticity and sustainability was always the guideline for Kuyichi. How is this reflected in the material selection of your denim?
Cotton is still the fibre we use most. All the virgin cotton we use is GOTS certified. This guarantees us that 100% of the cotton is organically grown. Besides we use other sustainable materials like linen, tercel, recycled cotton and recycled polyester. In the past, we also produced some more experimental types of denim that contained hemp, soya, linen or bamboo fibres. We’re always striving to reduce our environmental impact. That is why we’re incorporating more and more recycled fibres, with a focus on recycled - post-consumer - denim. For example, our Classic Blue jeans contain 20% post-consumer recycled denim fibres.
Lastly, what does the future of Kuyichi look like?
Some exciting things are coming up! Soon we’ll be launching our kids' jeans. Also, a new collaboration is coming up in November which we are really excited about! Jeans with which you can actually have a positive impact on somebody else’s life. Stay tuned!
shop the line
Kuyichi offers a wide range of denim pieces for everyone! All of their designs are cruelty-free – no feathers, no leather, no silk, no wool, no animal products of any kind - and instead of using toxic synthetic blue pigments, they use natural indigo. Check out some of our favorite pieces below.