Interview with Designer Reagan Marelle of Hargan Denim on Upcycling

After exploring the secondhand supply chain last week, I wanted to highlight one of the bright young female designers in the industry right now who is using repurposed materials, saving them from reaching the landfill. I met Reagan of Hargan Denim at Amsterdam Kingpins last year and immediately loved her energy and passion. Check out the interview with Reagan below!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the denim industry is pretty dominated by males! As a female starting out in the industry, have you found any barriers in the denim industry?

I don’t think I’ve been in the industry long enough to pinpoint any specific barriers that I haven’t yet been able to overcome. But then, I am a very stubborn person, and I won’t take no for an answer so I will always find a way around any obstacle being thrown my way. 

What have been some of the biggest challenges in sourcing second hand, vintage and scrap materials for your pieces?

I would say that finding the same shade of colored denim that people request has been the biggest challenge or finding white denim!

Why is it important for you to commit to a sustainable supply chain?

Simply, just because it’s the right thing to do. 

We could always be doing more, but given our current resources, it is hard to have a 100% “sustainable” supply chain. What do you wish you could be doing more of in terms of sustainability?

Helping the consumer mindset shift. I get a lot of my negative feedback about pricing, and why it is so much higher than H&M, or Forever 21. And it’s hard to be able to help the consumer understand because of all the different avenues and aspects that go into trying to have a 100% “sustainable” supply chain. 

What is your favorite aspect of sustainability that you implement into Hargan Denim?

Right now, everyone has only seen the “repurposed” denim that I have started out with, but with future collections, my favorite thing that I’m bringing in is 100% cotton, raw denim. It brings together the 3 core values I want Hargan Denim to represent. Efficiency, durability, and travel.

I personally just love traveling. There are certain things you can only find by traveling to these small corners of the world. I get inspired by the people and art I find, some of the most amazing forms of art that I have been inspired by are from those little stores that I would have never found without traveling there. When I hear the word denim, I think of tradition. Classic, authentic, intimate and personal. Denim tells a story. Whether it is the first pair of jeans you bought, a vintage pair that reminds you of a memory, or a pair that makes you feel like the best-looking human in the world, there is just something about it that almost makes it feel like home. A raw pair of jeans, is like starting a new chapter, a clean slate. A pair that you will wear for years, and create thousands of memories in, through traveling and experiencing life. Then pass down through generation to generation. When you get to the end, it’s like you have your entire life story, in a pair of jeans!

Raw denim is efficient and durable. When you are trying to be sustainable, it’s about looking at the full circle. And I am pushing myself to bring my next collection in full circle with raw denim; 

  • Before life, (cotton, fabric, dyeing processes.) Raw denim is more durable and the denim lasts longer because you don’t have any finishing processes (ex: stone washing, sandblasting, etc.) It is more eco-friendly in a way of taking less water, because of not finishing, and is more labor-friendly because workers aren’t getting exposed to hazardous chemicals that have been used for the distressing process. 
  • During life, (patterning, sewing, construction, trims/buttons) I do all my own patterning. When I design, I think about the way pattern pieces fit laid out on the fabric, therefore when they are getting cut, I can keep my fabric waste yield as low as possible. I also do all my own sewing as of right now, so I try and focus on the durability of my stitching.  On my inseam, I’ll do 2 single needle stitches with an overlock because of the inseam being a high-stress point, as well as using bar tacking on all high wear points instead of rivets. As for my trims/buttons, I am looking into Dorlet because they don’t have any electroplating, and they have eco finishing methods that are nickel free. 
  • After life, (when consumers are done with the garment, packaging, shipping) Using 100% cotton will make it possible for the fabric from the garment to be recycled. As for shipping and packaging my garments because I am an e-commerce brand, I have looked into mailers from Eco Enclosed, they supply mailers that are 100% Recycled.

Reagan's got it all figured out. Her brand ethos and values are so admirable and I can't wait to see more from Hargan Denim! For more sustainable denim follow me @SimplySuzette ! Until next time friends, have a diligent Monday!

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