Bread & Butter Berlin: Kuyichi Denim's Director on Not Paying More For Green Fashion


Kuyichi's Fall/Winter 2010 collection. Photos via Kuyichi

Last Friday, during Bread & Butter (Winter collection 2010), Tony Tonnaer, director of Dutch denim brand Kuyichi told the crowd assembled for German magazine Zitty's fashion symposium that green's gotta look good. Named after the Peruvian god of the rainbow, Kuyichi is now one of the most successful sustainable brands in Europe, with 650 shops in 13 countries worldwide.

Yes, there was organic in the 90's -- but it was for your parents, granola, a terrible fit. Our first mission with Kuyichi is style, conscious second. Why? Because it's not going to sell.

Sound familiar? Probably because this statement rings a lot like one of the founding principals of TreeHugger: driving sustainability mainstream.
Kuyichi's Fall/Winter 2010 collection. Photos via Kuyichi

Kuyichi got its start after a failed attempt to sell organic cotton across Europe in 2001, Tonnaer admitted:

No one wanted it, it was not a success. So we decided to start our own brand. We wanted to sell a socially conscious product to the mainstream consumer, who could buy in volume, and therefore help more people.

Progress was slow -- with denim in particular, problems come with the chemical-heavy washes. Kuyichi uses the minimum amount of chemicals, cleans the water after production, and works with established certifications including MADE-BY.


Kuyichi's Spring/Summer 2010 Collection. Photos via Kuyichi

The company achieved a huge milestone last year, when it announced that all of its products are made of 100 percent sustainable materials -- ranging from recycled polyester from PET bottles, organic cotton, recycled cotton, and vintage fabric remnants collected from factories.

Although Kuyichi pays between 10 and 15 percent more for organic cotton, the jeans have a competitive price point, ranging from 100 to 150 euros, Tonnaer notes:

If you make it look nice enough, it sells. You make your money. Now, we are priced like the other brands, next to the other brands -- and our distribution is in regular jean stores, not just organic stores.


Kuyichi's Spring/Summer 2010 Collection. Photos via Kuyichi

Kuyichi's corporate responsibility mission does not stop at the jeans: All production, which takes place mostly in Peru, Tunisia, and India, is certified Fair Trade and child-labor free. Shops are furnished with vintage fur, LED lights, living walls, and furniture made out of recycled material, such as, appropriately, denim. All beverage and food on hand is organic, from the tea down to the vodka, and the stand at Bread & Butter was completely recycled. Tonnaer left the crowd pondering the future of green fashion:

We believe this organic concept is not just a concept, not just a trend. What it comes down to is you don't have to give up a lot to do something for this world.


Kuyichi's Spring/Summer 2010 Collection. Photo via Kuyichi
More From Bread & Butter Berlin (Winter collection 2010)
Bread & Butter Berlin: Costo Recycled Hats Solve the Pom-pom Problem
Bread & Butter Berlin: Simple Shoes' Soles Biodegrade 980 Years Faster
Bread & Butter Berlin: Recycling Shirts From Americans...Because They Are Fatter
Bread & Butter Berlin: What Color Nail Polish do Europeans Wear?
More on Kuyichi
Kuyichi Organic Jeans
Kuyichi -- Celebrating 5 Years of Fair Trade Eco Fashion

Tags: Recycled Fashion | Sustainable Fabrics