“Innovation drives us so progress will always be our goal”
Going into a brand, knowing your objective, is one of the finest ways to sustain change. Tony Tonnaer did just this. Founding Kings of Indigo in 2011, Tonnaer had a clear vision- “to produce clothing in a sustainable way both socially and environmentally, without compromising on quality”, and he has never looked back since. In talking to the founder, and all-around creative, it’s truly enlightening to hear the work which has been done, is being done and what can be amplified in the future. Hats off to some incredible denim, and an insight into the thought and love that goes behind it…
Kings of Indigo is a great example of how fashion-brands can be ethical; was this ideal born alongside the brand, or something which developed over time?
The reason I started this brand in 2011 was to offer people a sustainable option without having to compromise on looks. Back then sustainability was everything but cool and most of the sustainable clothing was a bit ‘granola’. I had been working with sustainability for years and I didn’t understand why the planet-friendly option couldn’t also be good looking? I decided to team up with designer Khoi Thai to combine innovative ethical material and production, with super cool design.
Your 5 pillars of sustainability are amazing! However, online, you state you still have progressed to make in the future. Could you tell us about these goals and how you plan to reach them?
Being sustainable is not a set of tactics, it’s a state of mind. The very best sustainable option today can be outdated tomorrow. At the heart of sustainability lies innovation and a holistic approach. So being a pioneer in this branch, we are always working on the next, better thing. Waterless washes, stretch without plastic, denim with 0% new cotton. Innovation drives us so progress will always be our goal. A lot of clothing companies communicate that they are sustainable because they work on water waste for instance. But that’s just one pillar, we make a difference because we see sustainability as a whole.
Your new collection brings the perfect closet staples! What was the inspiration behind the collection? I see there are many Vegan pieces…
We’ve been trying out different styles over the past couple of years, but we find we’re happiest being a classic denim brand inspired by the 2 great denim nations: USA and Japan. But we make sure our classics are 100% updated with today’s technology. Who needs bone buttons if there is a perfect coconut alternative? Same for leather and feathers we use vegan and clean alternatives. Our puffer coats, for instance, are filled with THERMOLITE which is made from post-consumer recycled PET bottles, an animal-friendly alternative to down feathers. That’s cleaning up plastic waste and being kind to animals in one. I started Kings of Indigo because I felt sustainable clothing should look good and last long. Today I see no reason not to make all the good-looking clothing, planet & animal friendly.
The future of sustainable fashion is an uncertain one (globally). What are your hopes for the fashion industry as a whole?
We are all rethinking consumption. It’s clear there’s a growing interest in sustainable products that last. The one positive result of a world turned upside down is that people really want to do better this time around. That means sustainable brands are more relevant than ever and it really motivates us to go the extra mile.
Check out Kings of Indigo @ Zalando.
Read more on Zalando’s Sustainability Strategy
Words by Grace Powell