Founder’s Letter: An Announcement — or Two or Three — Before Kingpins Amsterdam

Kingpins Amsterdam is around the corner — just three weeks from now. Everyone on our team is excited for the new show and hoping (fingers crossed) you like it. (I’m sure we’ll hear If you don’t.)

There will be several major announcements at the show and the first is the launch of Transformers Foundation’s “Transparency Tool” — what they call TTT. More than a transparency tool, TTT scientifically measures the environmental impact of every single stage of the production of a jean.

This is a subject that has bounced around a lot in our industry. Which fabric or jean is more “sustainable” than another? Mills and accessory suppliers all have stories that their product is 62 percent less of this or that, but it’s always unclear what the starting point was — or more importantly, how does it compare to their competitors’ products?

We’re all buried in words like “more” or “new” or “improved” or “better,” but ultimately what matters is “better than what?” Transformers Foundation has been paying special attention to this subject and has been discussing with top mills how to meaningfully give a description to adjectives like “new,” “improved” or “better.”  TTT version 1.0 is the first overall attempt and with it, denim makers will be able to use scientific methods to attach a real, reliable number to sustainability claims. TTT uses raw data from a comparison of inputs/outputs for a set of garments to help mills and brands make strategic decisions about the products they are making and buying. 

No tool with this much potential is perfect from the moment it arrives. The first telephone bears little resemblance to the powerful devices we all use today. So please don’t make permanent judgements on the release of TTT version 1.0. The tool is new and is being worked on daily. It is a baby and will be an adult soon. Transformers Foundation thinks TTT will change the entire conversation about sustainably in the jeans industry for the better and forever.

The tool was invented by Miguel Sanchez, Kingpins Technological Leader — although he argues that TTT is a team effort in collaboration of the entire Transformers Foundation board of directors and founders. But I think it should be called the MS Tool or the Sanchez Tool. Miguel has devoted an enormous amount of time and effort into the development and I’ll note, this was done without pay or financial remuneration. Once the tool is adopted, all fees will go back to the Foundation, not to Miguel. Kingpins is thrilled to have Miguel on our team and the Transformers Foundation likewise appreciates his contributions more than anyone can imagine.

Everyone attending Kingpins Amsterdam will be able to check out the new tool and how it works at a seminar on Wednesday April 12 at 1 p.m. We hope exhibitors, brands and retailers come to the seminar and see for themselves how TTT measures and compares sustainability claims.

The second major announcement we are making is the rollout of Material Exchange’s Livestock, an online array of denim inventory available to buy.

We have been working on this behind the scenes and finally it is ready to launch. 

Here’s the story – so simple and clear: Mills have inventory. Brands and retailers have inventory.  But no one knows what exactly is available.

For example, a buyer who needs a quick delivery of 20,000 yards of a 10-ounce hemp denim would have to call all his suppliers to ask if they have stock. This inquiry leads the suppliers to check their inventory to see if they have it and how much is available, which all takes additional time. If they have it, a sample would be sent to the buyer (more delay). With Livestock, the buyer can go online and see instantaneously who has stock and how much.

On the other side of this query are the mills who want to sell stock (or brands who own too much of something). They can list it on Livestock and make its availability known throughout the world. They can list excess yardage under their company name – or anonymously if they are worried about letting the whole world know their inventory position. (Of course, serious buyers will need to eventually know where the fabric is coming from.)

Kingpins’ dream is that all our denim mills will list their inventory on Livestock and update the status weekly. Obviously nothing (TTT or not) is as sustainable as buying something that already exists. We encourage excess stock to be “outed” and sold.

Material Exchange is very excited about this opportunity to turn deadstock into livestock and Kingpins endorses this idea with vehemence and excitement. We always love and promote ideas that intersect transactional business with environmental objectives and results.

Check it out. Livestock is ready for you to buy and sell. Naturally, no one expects anyone to buy without seeing the fabrics, but the tool is about allowing you to know what’s out there in real time.

And our third announcement concerns the future of Kingpins Shop. We know people love Kingpins Shop because sales have exceeded our imagination. Our curated marketplace is gearing up for a serious upgrade in the second half of 2023 (and will take a hiatus from the upcoming Amsterdam show). Going forward, we want to encourage all mills to participate with the shop and offer products. Gordon Heffner, who runs the shop, has many ideas for products suppliers can make and how these products can also be used for suppliers’ own marketing. Years ago at Denim Days, Artistic Milliners ingeniously made denim footballs and they were crazy good — people loved them (why did they stop?). We’re looking to create a varied mix of products and we have a lot of ideas, feel free to get in touch with Gordon to discuss.

See you at the show.

– Andrew Olah

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