When you purchase a pair of jeans from the Los Angeles based company Double Eleven, you probably don’t know that your purchase saved 1,850 gallons of water. That’s because Double Eleven, a Los Angeles-based clothing manufacturer, wants to let the quality and style of their clothes speak for themselves.
“I want the quality of the clothing to do the talking, then we can start the conversation about the other stuff!”
That “other stuff” is a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint by sourcing as much of their materials within a 15-mile radius from their factory as possible, turning to deadstock warehouses for fabrics and radically reducing their consumption of water and other resources throughout the manufacturing process.
In November of 2017, Shinola retail associates began wearing a vintage style chore coat designed and manufactured by Double Eleven. We spoke with Double Eleven founder Nathan Bogle (co-founder of Rag and Bone) to discuss his new brand, the sustainable practices his team implements to produce fashion-forward pieces, and the collaboration between the two companies.
I’m curious about how sustainability has become the core of Double Eleven. Was that always the mission?
Yes, it was and still is. I had another line in New York before I moved to Los Angeles and founded Double Eleven. It was upper contemporary, well-made product; leathers, knitwear and outerwear. But I hit this point where I was sitting in a factory surrounded by all this waste and excess. Things were progressing well with the brand, but something wasn’t right. I began thinking harder about all the resources, shipping, waste, and energy normally consumed in the life cycle of a garment and I suddenly felt reckless and irresponsible about my process. It was a very odd feeling of everything you’ve created suddenly imploding while at the same time conceiving of Double Eleven under the notion of ‘I have to find a better way’.
You have talked in the past about this idea of comparing what you do at Double Eleven to the farm-to-table movement in terms of location. Is the material that you find in these deadstock factories influence the products that you’re making and the style that you put out there?
Yes, that’s an interesting question. The farm-to-table philosophy only works with what is available here and now. It is usually sourced very locally and one has to work with what’s in season, so there are many parallels to our process.
How we go about our process with clothing is that we start each season with a very loose design brief and then rummage through fabric libraries in warehouses to find suitable fabrics. We are always governed by what we find and the season we’re in, so it’s limiting in some regards but at the same time we have to make it work. It’s a challenging design brief that ultimately makes us more creative because we have to think outside the box and work within our means.
For people who aren’t familiar with deadstock fabric, can you explain that a little bit?
Essentially deadstock is waste fabric that big fabric mills or big brands have excess of. They need to clear their inventories from time to time and that’s where we come in.
The quality we find and use is premium grade or vintage military. I often can’t believe that the quality of fabric we find is just sitting around in warehouses in Los Angeles. It’s exciting because you never know what you’re going to find, it’s like a treasure hunt!
Talk about the collaboration and partnership between Shinola and Double Eleven, how it came to be and what you think about it all.
I was flattered to get the call because I greatly admire Shinola-what you’ve done in Detroit, what it represents in terms of its heritage and how it’s moved on from a shoe polish brand to what it is today-it’s an incredible transformation. I thought the collaboration was a very good fit in terms of brand philosophy and ethos.
For the jacket, I worked with Daniel Caudill (Shinola’s Creative Director) to get it to be functional and exactly the way he wanted it, which involved some tweaks to our current Chore Coat and then we developed the color he wanted to fit well within the store environments.
I always get excited at the end of making a big run of clothing because just on water savings alone on the Shinola order, you saved approximately 750,000 gallons of water (2.8 Million liters) simply by using pre-existing fabrics! The savings come from not obviously having to grow, process and dye all that new raw cotton…it’s substantial.
We also did a quick calculation on this volume of water put it into a human context. I believe Shinola employs approximately 600 people and with this amount of water saved, it’s the equivalent of hydrating all of them for 4 years!
This is what gets me up in the morning; knowing that we are able to make great product this way, with absolutely no compromise to quality and style, while conserving valuable resources and keeping jobs on American soil.