I Am Not A Virgin To Sell "Eco-Sexy" Denim Jeans

Jan 24 2014, 10:20am CST | by

I Am Not A Virgin To Sell "Eco-Sexy" Denim Jeans

Eco-friendly denim takes the prize.

By that I mean, I recently was a judge at a pitch competition held during MakeImpactNYC, a conference aimed at getting social enterprises and other like-minded people from the five boroughs of New York together at one time. Called the Battle of the Boros, the competition pitted startups representing Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island–one for each borough.

The winner, by unanimous decision, was a startup in Manhattan by the name of I Am Not A Virgin, which plans to sell a line of jeans made from a mix of cotton and recycled materials, like plastic bottles, and from non-cotton materials like bamboo.  (Bamboo, according to founder Peter Heron, makes for a better fit. Also, in case you’re wondering, the company name refers to the fact that the denim is made of other things in addition to cotton).

The company was started by Peter Heron, who was working as a creative director for an advertising agency in Australia when he won a green card in the lottery five years ago and decided to move to New York City to start a business. The idea was simple, in a complex way: “I wanted  to know if green technology could make a better fitting jean,” he says.

Through a lot of research he discovered that some people were making denim manufactured partially with scraps of leftover fabric.  That seemed like an ok idea, but Heron didn’t think the quality was good enough. So he decided to take a different tack, at first using 75% cotton and 25% recycled materials. Too much of the recycled stuff, he feared, would hurt the jeans’ durability.

At the same time, “I knew if you want a great product you need a great team,” he says. Through a contact, he met Walt Connelly, a former executive creative director at JWT and Ogilvy, and they became partners.  He also took a course in how to cut and sew, a pretty important skill he wanted to master.

Heron continued to try out other approaches, however, always with his eye on producing eco-friendly jeans that fit well.  The company’s motto is “First we save your ass. Second we save the environment.” Says Heron. “Number one thing is we are a fashion brand.”

So, Heron tested out different proportions of recycled to non-recycled material. To produce trendy skinny jeans, for example, he tried lowering the content to 10% recycled stuff. (Zippers are made partially from milk protein).  At the same time, he started working with other materials, like monocel, which is made from bamboo, is very soft, and, with a four-way stretch, makes for a better fit, he says. (He also plans to make t-shirts that may be made partially from such materials as recycled X-ray film).

The exact styles he’ll launch with–and the material they’ll contain–are still a bit of a work in progress.

Finding investors, apparently, also is a work in progress, because so many investors are putting their money in digital tech startups these days. He’s talking to some potential investors now, but can’t say who they are. He hopes to launch in two months or so.

As you might expect, it’s the story behind the company that Heron hopes will be particularly attractive to investors and consumers–an authentic message likely to resonate with today’s young, socially conscious consumers. “We’re what we term eco-sexy,” he says.

The actual cutting and sewing of the fabric will be sub-contracted out to manufacturers in L.A. As for where he’s selling the product, first step is online, next is to get in brick and mortar stores. According to Heron, they’re working on a sophisticated technology with which consumers can figure out the best size and fit online.

How, exactly, does Heron turn, for example, bottles  into fabric for jeans? In the case of bottles, it’s all about extracting oil. So bottles, which are collected in a recycling facility,  are melted down into fine particles, which, in turn, are extruded through a nozzle system that pulls out strands to be twisted into yarn. That material, finally, is woven into denim, along with virgin cotton. Each pair of jeans uses six to eight recycled bottles.

The result of this process, according to Heron, is a big reduction in oil. He says that about 600 million pairs of jeans are sold in the U.S. every year and if they all used his process, we’d save about 1.2 million barrels of oil a year.

The bamboo route, of course, doesn’t even involve using cotton.  That can reap big savings in reduced use of land, water, and fertilizer needed to grow cotton.

/>/>

(The right to use the word “virgin”, by the way, has been disputed by Virgin, something that Forbes contributor Anderson Antunes has written about).

I Am Not A Virgin, of course, is not the first social enterprise to use recycled materials. There’s Terracycle, a seller of fertilizer made from worm poop, along with other products fashioned from recycled juice pouches and other such things. And Rareform, which I’ve written about, makes surfboard bags from billboards. So why not jeans?

“Our green technology is a unique fit,” says Heron.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Mummy wearing jewellery unearthed in Egypt
London, Nov 23 (IANS) Spanish archaeologists have discovered about 4,000 years old female mummy wearing rare jewellery in Egypt.
 
 
Exercise and fasting could boost brain's functions
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) Exercise along with occasional fasting is good for boosting the brain's neurons, shows a new research.
 
 
One infant dies in Pakistan hospital
Islamabad, Nov 23 (IANS) One more infant died due to lack of oxygen in an incubator and negligence of the hospital administration in Pakistan, bringing the number of such deaths to 19 in the past five days.
 
 
American whiskey faces challenge in whisky-gulping India
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) For the most part Indians love things American, but when it comes to their tipple, the world's largest whisky drinkers usually go for Scotch or their very own home-made brands.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Pune FC seal semifinal berth in King's Cup
Thimphu, Nov 23 (IANS) Pune FC thrashed Assam State Electricity Board FC 5-0 in a third round Group-B encounter to seal their place in the semi-finals of the 2014 King's Cup at the Changlimithang Stadium here Sunday....
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Australia the team to beat at World Cup: Vaughan
London, Nov 23 (IANS) Former England captain Michael Vaughan Sunday said that having hit upon a rich vein of form against South Africa, Australia have emerged as the front-runners and will be the team to beat at the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Taylor Swift to receive Dick Clark Award
Los Angeles, Nov 23 (IANS) Singer Taylor Swift has been named as the first recipient of Dick Clark Award For excellence at 2014 American Music Awards (AMAs). The 24-year-old, who is enjoying a great year with her...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Australia displace India as top ODI team
Dubai, Nov 23 (IANS) Four-time World Champion Australia Sunday returned to the top of the One-Day International (ODI) Team Rankings, displacing India, after defeating South Africa 4-1 in a five-match series, as per the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Iraqi court sentences Sunni politician to death
Baghdad, Nov 23 (IANS) An Iraqi court Sunday sentenced a former Sunni lawmaker to death on a criminal charge, an official said. "The Central Criminal Court issued today a verdict of death penalty for the former...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Amzon Black Friday 2014: $3.99 Blu-ray Movies
Black Friday 2014 Sales events are underway since Friday with the Amazon Black Friday 2014 Deals Week and the Walmart Black Friday Pre Sale. Walmart matched several advertised Black Friday 2014 deals of competitors on...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Best Buy Black Friday 2014 sale launched with $3.99 Blu-ray Movie
Like Walmart and Amazon, Best Buy kicks off their Black Friday 2014 sale early. You can already buy Best Buy Black Friday deals advertised in the Best Buy Black Friday 2014 ad today online at bestbuy.com. There is no...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Messi delighted with new La Liga scoring record
Madrid, Nov 23 (IANS) Lionel Messi has made footballing history, scoring a hat-trick against Sevilla which made him the highest scorer in the history of the Spanish La Liga. Messi's 252nd, 253rd and 254th goals...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Tatum, Carolin to co-direct 'Leonard Peacock'
Los Angeles, Nov 23 (IANS) Actor Channing Tatum and filmmaker Reid Carolin have been roped in by the Weinstein Company to co-direct and produce the film "Leonard Peacock", an adaptation of Matthew Quick's YA book "...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Burdwan blast mastermind's wife held in Dhaka
Dhaka, Nov 23 (IANS) The women's wing chief of the terrorist group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) who confessed to training at least 25 women in West Bengal has been arrested here, the media said Sunday. Fatema...
Read more on Politics Balla