The collection, called Orbit, uses “top-notch sustainable fibers,” which include Renewcell’s Circulose, cotton from the Soorty Organic Cotton Initiative (SOCI) and denim-to-denim recycled fibers from Soorty’s Second Life program.
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While choosing fabrics that use more sustainable fibers can be more expensive for brands, Debbağ said the mill absorbs some of the cost because it makes its own sustainable yarns.
“We have the advantage of really bearing that cost for most of our customers because we’re not buying the recycled yarns from outside,” Debbağ said. “The more vertical you are, and the more vertical products you propose to your customers, I think there’s a chance to make less of an impact on the cost structure [for them].”
The collection currently features eight designs, some of which run in multiple wash combinations, Johnson said. It includes a sleeveless denim jacket, multiple pairs of jeans, a circle skirt, carpenter pants and more.
He said including non-traditional styles in the assortment helps highlight denim’s versatility and could remind designers that the ever-classic material can offer a fresh look.
“There’s some styling pieces in there that can help break down the preconception that jeans wear has to be at all boring, because it’s still a great source for high-end fashion, and it serves everybody in business,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he drew inspiration from silhouettes and styles from the 1960s when designing the capsule collection.
“What I was really inspired by—and am always inspired by—is the longevity of jeans wear. I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with working into it in a way that you evolve it from what it was so successfully for so many years, without trying to reinvent too much. We took some 1960s-inspired pieces from my archive, and we’ve mixed [in] some Soorty archival pieces,” Johnson told Rivet.
For circularity and other sustainability initiatives to have the most impact, Debbağ said, helping partners and end consumers to contextualize its importance matters deeply.
“We talk about the raw materials, but it doesn’t really resonate with someone unless they’re specifically interested in circularity or sustainability,” Debbağ said. “We need to make sustainability a little bit exciting and fun to engage with, so that it becomes a common ground.”
Debbağ and her team at Soorty knew they would need to be able to tell a story around the newly launched Orbit collection. To make the lineup come to life, Debbağ said, Gail Van der Hoeven, Soorty’s senior branding and visual design specialist, stepped in.
Van der Hoeven created a comic book that tells the story of the Orbit collection to relay Orbit’s journey to customers.
“With a comic book, you are forced to be very direct, and limit yourself to keep the messaging to the core information, since the messages need to be ‘Wow! Bang!’” Van der Hoeven said.
She said she was inspired by pop-art, specifically Roy Lichtenstein, when creating the branding for the product—and an iteration of the comic book made its way onto the garments. A red, blue and yellow label on the back of the pants boasts, “Denim optimized for the future.” A small, black-and-white ecru tag hangs down from the label to tell the brief story of the Orbit collection.
Debbağ said Orbit will eventually go far beyond the original pieces.
“Orbit will be our container of circular products. It’s a concept that will live, and we just want to feed it more. That’s also the feedback loop we’re creating for our internal [product development] teams, and asking them, ‘OK, this is a container you need to fulfill, this is something we’re looking at,’” Debbağ explained. “Two years from today, I would envision our customers coming in and asking, ‘Oh, do you have new product in the Orbit collection?’—so they’re specifically asking us for it, not us going to them.”