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Brave Design: Triarchy Denim's founders discuss their Bold Shift to Sustainable Fashion

 

A master is brave, courageous and confident—constantly seeking bold and exciting outcomes, not just in design but through a willingness to explore new ideas and concepts for the greater common good. That's the definition of one of Lexus' core values - Brave Design - a pillar brought to life by Triarchy, a sustainable denim brand base in Toronto and LA. In collaboration with Lexus' striking sports sedan the IS, Lexus has partnered with various masters in culture, cuisine, art and design for a Master Class tour of Toronto to showcase their alignment to innovation, integrity, and other brand pillars with a group of notable Canadian influencers. Here, Triarchy’s founders talk about the powerful (albeit risky) way, they’ve turned their entire denim line into sustainable fashion.

 
 
The new Lexus IS

The new Lexus IS

 
 

When Adam and Ania Taubenfligel, the siblings behind Triarchy Denim, first watched the film The True Cost, it was as if a veil had been lifted. Only a few days had passed since their spring 2016 runway show at Toronto Fashion Week, and a friend had passed along the documentary. They couldn’t believe what they saw: clothing production used excessive amounts of the world’s water supply, and fashion brands were contributing to large-scale pollution and toxification of waterways.

Picture this: one pair of cotton jeans consumes 2,900 gallons of water, even before it’s purchased in store. That’s the equivalent of 11,000 one-litre water bottles. In China’s city Xintang, where one out of three of world’s jeans are produced, the default method is to dump water—laced with chemicals from the wash and dying process—right into the rivers, killing the farmlands surrounding it.

“We had this moment where we looked at each other and [realized] we’re not really contributing to making this situation any better,” says Adam. “The truth is, nobody needs another denim brand, so if we were going to continue doing the thing we love so much, it had to be environmentally sustainable.”

 
 

In May 2016, Adam and Ania decided to do the unthinkable—they halted production completely, and committed to re-evaluating each of their vendors, from denim and hardware suppliers to manufacturers and laundries.

“It made me re-evaluate our brand lens—who we want to collaborate with, what we want to be a part of,” explains Ania. “It made those decisions easier than ever, because unless it falls under this category of sustainability, we don’t do it, and that's it.”

In May 2016, Adam and Ania decided to do the unthinkable—they halted production completely, and committed to re-evaluating each of their vendors, from denim and hardware suppliers to manufacturers and laundries.

“It made me re-evaluate our brand lens—who we want to collaborate with, what we want to be a part of,” explains Ania. “It made those decisions easier than ever, because unless it falls under this category of sustainability, we don’t do it, and that's it.”

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Now, Triarchy uses a laundry facility in Mexico City that recycles their water, a hardware manufacturer in Buenos Aires that repurposes street signs, and a label maker based in China that turns recycled water bottles into polyester. Indigo, the dye used to colour denim, is traditionally made to stick to cotton using harmful chemicals. Adam is now working with a company in Italy that uses crushed crustacean shells as a method of dying denim, which is non-toxic and also reduces water consumption. And instead of trying to create the “vintage” look using a wash and dye, Adam and Ania have decided to make their own clothes—jackets, shorts, jeans—using old, unused denim. They call it their Atelier collection.

In February 2017, Triarchy re-launched as a sustainable brand. For Adam and Ania, the risk of re-doing their entire production process was well worth it: “I would never go back to doing it ‘normally,’” says Adam. “It was a challenge at times, but I was always excited because we were building something that we could be proud of.”

 
FashionThe Bull Team