The last time most men touched clay was probably as little boys, when they played with it to make their first sculptures. The last time they probably thought about it was in school, where they might have heard about the use of clay in buildings, pottery and tablets to record some of the earliest known writing. The next time they encounter clay, however, they might be wearing it – when they try on the latest denim from Mavi Jeans Inc.
At its Canadian Spring/Summer press preview in Toronto last week, for example, the Turkish-born brand showed off an entire collection of shirts, jeans and other plants designed exclusively with sustainable fibres and dyed with clay colours.
To call these clothes “earthy” is an understatement. As Mavi senior account executive Jessica Gubert explained to me during my private tour, clay is an “inherently occurring material.” That means it has made up a unique crystal structure which is non-toxic, resistant to UV rays and acti-bacterial in nature. The environmentally-friendly ethos doesn’t end with the 100% organic cotton of the denim itself, however.
“See this? These are actual acorns,” Gubert said, drawing my attention to the button on a pair of the clay-dyed jeans. ““The back patches are made with olive seed patches, and maybe what I appreciate the most is they all are going to be sold with these biodegradable hang tags. That means you can plant these tags after you purchase the garment and grow basil.”
The palette of the collection is more elevated than khaki and also includes a particularly serene shade of green for some of the shirts. These are clothes you could imagine being worn by creative adventures and explores from Bruce Chatwin to Peter Beard – and they probably would have approved of how Mavi is combining beauty with fabrication that doesn’t threaten the future of the planet.
Of course, many brands are shifting as quickly as they can to more sustainable production in light of concerns over climate change and events such as the recently-concluded COP27 summit. Mavi, however, has been acting as a fashion role model in this area for some time.
Two years ago, for instance, I got a sneak peek at its ALL BLUE collection, which focused on denim made from organic, recycled and plant-based materials. The result not only made you feel good about your purchase, but the fit was excellent (I managed to slip in easily into a size 32 of its classic Jake jeans when I was really a 34).
Mavi is doing other interesting things in terms of weight and fit. Gubert showed me the Steve, which takes advantage of the stretch in its organic cotton to accommodate the build of a hockey players – in other words, higher in the rise and a bit roomier through the seat, but with a tapered leg that recalls the more upscale Jake.
Gubert said one of her personal favourites was Mavi’s Feather Blue, which is more of a light to mid-weight option that uses Tencel and recycled cotton. “It’s derived from wood pulp from sustainably managed forests,” she added.
I was probably most intrigued by what appeared to be a midnight blue denim jacket that was actually made from a French terry cloth. Mavi is using the same material in some of its sweat pants as well.
Along with cotton shirts and shorts that range from corduroy to summer twill, the addition of the Natural Dye collection shows Mavi is targeting men who not only have taste, but a conscience.
“We really pride ourselves on being in that sweet spot where it’s still a premium product, but you’re getting it at a more reasonable price point,” Gubert. “We kind of set ourselves apart.”