Making sustainable denim a royal cause
In conversation with Tony Tonnaer, Kings of Indigo’s founder
Launched in 2011 at Bread & Butter by Tony Tonnaer, Kings of Indigo is one of the latest denim brands that’s changing customer’s fashion behavior when it comes to purchasing jeans. Kings of Indigo is the outcome of Tony’s desire to “create a sustainable brand to the next level, in line with my vision and design” after almost twenty years working with denim. He started with two partners, Frank van Santen, former Kuyichi CFO and Guido Mathijssen, a friend with great general management skills. “We had a great network of producers and sales agents thank’s to my years at Pepe Jeans, Ubi and Kuyichi” says founder Tony Tonnaer.
They have now a dedicated team of ten passionate people working from their HQ in Amsterdam. The unique name of the brand refers to a tattoo of a koi carp that Tony has on his right arm remembering is mother who passed away. A proud fish that swims against the stream and a powerful metaphor at the same time. “Then, I was at a Kings of Convenience concert and had the idea to use K.O.I as an abbreviation of Kings Of Indigo” explains founder Tony Tonnaer. The abbreviation K.O.I. is the perfect combination between Japan and USA inspiration – two of Tony’s favorite countries when it comes to denim inspiration.
Kings of Indigo makes quality denims, tops and accessories inspired by American classics with a Japanese eye for detail. All the items are designed to last long – every garment is made with a conscience. They use innovative and sustainable production techniques when they can. All denims are produced in Tunisia and are also washed there or in Italy. The knitwear is produced in Italy and all t-shirts, sweats and woven tops in Tunisia, Bulgaria and Greece. The design team has close contacts with all denim and fabric suppliers concerning the latest fabrics and sustainable processes. They also regularly visit the factories (usually every three to six weeks) to closely follow all new developments, production, quality control, delivery planning, Fair Wear Foundation progress, etc. “I personally visit the factories twice a year for more strategic meetings” says Tony.
Sustainability is at the core of King of Indigo philosophy. From day one they have been working with Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) in order to ensure the best environment for the factory workers. The FWF is a European initiative working to improve workplace conditions in the garment and textile industry. It verifies that its member companies implement the FWF Code of Labour Practices in their supply chains. Kings of Inidigo also work with laundries that recycle water or use wash process with laser, ozone, ice blast or bubble wash to minimize the use of water, energy and chemicals. “As a sustainable brand, we should go as far as possible, every year aiming to go further” , says Tony. They are currently developing buttons from recycled metal, which in the past was a struggle to do because they couldn’t achieve the right quality. “Sustainability is also a lifestyle, not just a product” – the company cars are hybrid and they are aiming to use electric in the future, they have developed a store concept made from sustainable materials, drink organic coffee, lunch organic, fly CO2 neutral, etc.
You can shop the collection here. Text: Margaux Lombard, April 10th 2018