Interview by Hannah Rand.
Nathan Bogle was a founding member of Rag & Bone. We caught up with him at Venice Beach, Los Angeles, to hear more about his latest denim venture – Double Eleven, a pioneering denim line that uses reclaimed fabric, a minimal carbon footprint, and has an extremely reasonable approach to pricing.
You have a rich history in designing jeans. What is it about denim that resonates so much with you?
Jeans are the most iconic garment on the planet and the fabric is unlike any other. Denim has an organic element to it – each roll is completely unique, washes differently, the shades vary, the cotton changes depending on where it was grown. Jeans also have a strong emotional connection; everyone has a great pair of jeans. They’re an everyday utility item that can have huge emotional value.
Where did the idea of Double Eleven come from?
I came across the CC41 Utility Scheme* back in 2005 while on a random Google search, and I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to produce a line that used waste or scraps. I was acutely aware, even back then, of the waste we were producing at Rag & Bone. But it wasn’t until 2014, while sitting in a factory in New York staring at piles of waste fabric and leather, that I was in a position to do anything about it.
After that epiphany, I realised I absolutely could not keep making clothing in the ‘traditional’ way, and continue to produce the waste and consume excessive amounts of material that traditional garment manufacturing involves. I decided I had to change everything, from sourcing all the way through to packaging.
[*The CC41 scheme was set up in 1941 by the British Board of Trade, and used on garments, shoes and furniture that met the austerity measures put in place during and after WWII. Basically, it was rationing for cloth and other materials.]
Tell me about the ethical stance of Double Eleven… why do you think that is important?
Because the clothing industry is third to fossil fuels and agriculture in its collective pollution of the planet. Last year, the fashion industry made 80 billion articles of clothing! The World Bank estimates that 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dying of fabrics. In 2010, China’s textile industry discharged 2.5 billion tons of wastewater.
And – this is the most important point – it takes approximately 5000 litres of water to grow enough cotton to make ONE pair of jeans. That’s 4.5 years of drinking water for one human (three litres per day). There are estimated to be 750 million people today who do not have access to clean drinking water.
If you know and understand these facts, and are in a position to change the system somehow, it feels reckless if you don’t try to do something to address these issues.
What is the Double Eleven aesthetic?
Contemporary wearable classics; everyday comfort; quality staples.
How does this reflect your own personal style?
Do you even own a suit?
Yes, I own a few, but rarely wear them.
You live and work in LA – what is it about the city and denim? So much great denim gets made there. Why is that?
Because the manufacturing resources needed to make a decent ‘Made in USA’ product are here. Brands that rose up in late 90s, like Seven and Guess, laid the foundations [for LA being a ‘denim capital], and the infrastructure has built up around them. Good sewers, washhouses and finishers are all here… there are not many other places in the US that have this full package. Plus, in LA, everyone wears jeans and T-shirts 90% of the time so it makes sense from a cultural perspective too.
Why do you personally love the city so much? Where do you live?
I’m from London, and lived in NYC for 18 years and now I live in Venice Beach. I’ve only been in LA for two years but I’ve found that the city has a very interesting mix of cultures, ethnicities and arts. The culture here isn’t on the surface like most other big cities; you have to dig in a little deeper to find what’s happening. Now, with the blend of art, tech, food, fashion and architecture, the city is not just about the entertainment industry anymore. Plus, the weather is obviously superb and the food is fresh!
Where are your favourite places to hang out?
Gjusta, Intelligentsia, Gjelina, Shima, Oscar’s Cerveteca… the usual Westside list! They’re all excellent though.
Because it’s easier for everyone this way, with the entry price point of $125. Done: nice and simple.
Any plans to make a woman’s range (please)?
Yes! There are a couple of unisex pieces coming in the spring next year.
The @doubleeleven___ Instagram account has a rolling list of the coolest denim wearers in history. Who is your favourite denim-clad man or woman ever and why?
Dean, McQueen and Newman… and for women, probably Jane Birkin. These guys were so legit and genuine. They didn’t have stylists, they just wore what they thought was cool.
Thanks for your time. Just one last thing… Finish the following sentence: ‘If I wasn’t making denim I’d be…’
A biodynamic olive oil farmer in Italy.