In conversation with Dion Vijgeboom, the co-owner of Mud Jeans with a very special title tagged with his name, he’s known as the expert of jeans.
Dion has been in the jean industry for more than 10 years, together with his amazing team, he’s still consistently pushing the boundaries of making jeans sustainable.
I don’t think I have met someone with such in depth knowledge about jeans other than Dion. I am really in awe of the effort he puts in making a positive impact in the industry he’s been deeply rooted in. It takes courage to constantly redefine the boundaries..
Would you like to share more with us about jeans?
I started to get knowledge about jeans when I joined g-star as a merchandiser where I started developing jeans washes fabrics and etc. I spent 10 years doing that, I gained a lot of experience in all the production facilities, in places like India, China, Bangladesh and Italy. After doing that for years, I discovered I needed a new challenge.
I then started to read a lot of interesting books about sustainable ways of doing business and developing products. Then started to consult and to explore new possibilities. That’s when I encountered Bert, the founder of Mud Jeans, and we decided to team up to further investigate and develop new products.
How did you have Mud Jeans products to be sustainable?
How we did that, it’s a combination of several things. First, we look at the fibers within the fabrics. Where we have organic cotton and we use of course our own old jeans, the recycled cotton. Next to that there is the Indigo on the fabrics. Which we use, it’s also a Cradle to Cradle certified indigo which is less harmful for the people, as well as the manufacturing process. It has no wastewater etc. Then when you come to the next stage of the manufacturing of jeans you have to an important part is the finishing, the washing. Luckily these days there are several techniques that enable us to eliminate chemicals, the use of water and to reduce electricity use. Those techniques are called ozone washing application of laser and they use of biodegradable chemicals so to speak which are actually not chemicals but more like a type of enzymes that that create wash effects. Such as what I’m wearing right now where no water and no chemicals are used.
What’s the difference with sustainable Jeans and normal Jeans?
When it comes to sustainable jeans and normal jeans, in fact if you look at conventional ways of treating jeans. There’s has been the use of actual sand in sandblasting or sand paper which is actually damaging the fibres of the fabric.
Whereas the new techniques, such as laser and ozone are only scraping or touching the surface of the fabrics. It is only taking away some of the dye stuff and not really affecting the Jean quality so now they are not necessarily soft to wear than it being sandblast.
How sustainable do you think the jean industry is right now?
How do you define sustainable that’s not an easy question. To say its sustainable there are a few parameters.
There’s the part of the fibres, where you can go from conventional cotton to VCI cotton to organic cotton into recycled cotton where from our point of view recycled cotton is the most sustainable. Then you can look at the dyeing process, where you have the conventional and you have new Cradle to Cradle certified dyeing processes which less toxic and harmful for the people and the environment.
In the finishing, you have the difference between the conventional and the new ones which was explained in the earlier part (Ozone &Laser Techniques). Focusing on each of these three parameters you can you can rank accordingly. I would say the current Jean industry is not yet sustainable. Basically because there is still a lot of conventional cotton used and a lot of polluting conventional dyeing methods are used and because a lot of chemicals and water polluting treatments are still being used in in the industry.