We live in a fast-paced world where fast isn’t fast enough, and growth is never enough. Taking a step back and realising what is important to us seems overwhelming with everything happening. However, this is precisely what Menno van Meurs did a decade after opening his first store. The Tenue de Nîmes denim store was a direct result of Van Meurs’ growing desire to contribute to a more circular denim industry while safeguarding the quality of premium denim. Tenue. de Nîmes sells new and vintage premium denim working in this industry, and selling these products inspired Menno to create his brand, Tenue. jeans. 

When I first met Menno, I had no idea what kind of ride I was in for, a true passion and an immense knowledge of denim. Personally, I thought I had at least a small understanding of the denim industry. However, spending the day talking with Menno left my head spinning with new facts about the industry. On my way home, I realised Tenue. jeans aren’t just made to last for generations. It is created with sustainability in mind at every step. Furthermore, the Tenue. denim items are unique and can be integrated into any wardrobe. 

During our lunch, Menno told me a story about a customer asking him for ten white t-shirts to bring on vacation. In turn, Menno asks out of curiosity why the customer wants ten t-shirts, and the customer replies that he throws out his t-shirts after wearing them once. Menno convinced the customer to buy four t-shirts, ensuring that washing them would do the trick. The brand’s website is just as informational as buying the jeans from Menno. The site shows the supply chain used to create the garments. Where many brands have chosen to move their denim productions overseas, Tenue. has chosen to keep it in Europe. Menno works closely with his supply chain designing en producing the Tenue. clothing. Tenue’s. transparency reveals how easy it is to be truthful as a brand towards its customers. Proving sustainability can still be more than just a marketing trick.

His conversations with his customers clarified how many didn’t know how to maintain their garments. Tenue. worked with Luis Mendo, a Dutch-Spanish artist living in Tokyo, to educate their consumers. A diverse set of drawings on the insight of the front pockets will show how to maintain their jeans properly. To show that you don’t need to buy ten t-shirts, buying two good quality t-shirts and washing them correctly will be more valuable. The drawings show that cleaning your jeans inside out will extend your jean’s life. Another one will show how you can repair the jeans at a Tenue. jeans store if they have torn. 

In his own words:  What does sustainability mean for you (Menno) and your company (Tenue. jeans)?

“As far as I am concerned, in the near future sustainability is at the heart of everything we do as a society. Translated, ‘sustainable’ is about something that lasts. We have a huge problem in the world with billions of garments we make but never use. In my opinion, we need to change exactly that. So first of all, this means that we need to make a lot less. By doing so, we reduce our footprint massively. Secondly, we need to start making clothes again that people want to wear daily and thus last a long time.”

“Jeans have a bad reputation for being associated with water consumption, pesticides and chemicals. Fortunately, that generalisation is out of place. We are leaps and bounds ahead regarding raw material recycling, water reuse and reduction. We will stop making trousers with stretch from the end of 2023 and move entirely to a combination of organic, recycled, regenerative and certified cotton.”

“We at Tenue. like to look at sustainability throughout the whole supply chain. Where is something made? Who makes it? Are people treated well? How are inputs and energy handled? And, of course: what are the jeans made of? We will soon launch a short film called: ‘From cotton field to Amsterdam’. In it, we will show people the entire supply chain from the cotton field to our shops in Amsterdam. We are so proud of all those talented hands who together make it possible to develop those beautiful trousers. People will realise how much craftsmanship goes into buying their pants. We hope this will make them love their beloved jeans even more and care for them longer and better.”

Where do you (Menno) believe the denim industry can grow regarding sustainability?

“There is an ugly paradox in our industry’s willingness to work to make wardrobes more sustainable. Brands know they have no right to exist in the long run without a sustainable agenda but are forced to always aim for growth. Sustainability and growth are difficult to combine. Moreover, sustainability is mainly seen in the marketing department instead of the designers. It always pisses me off when brands sew a plastic label into a garment to proclaim that they are sustainable. That label is just another item for the ‘plastic soup’. Leave those extra labels, tags and other excesses behind. As I pointed out earlier, we should work on those billions of garments that end up in landfills instead of continuing to increase the problem. Nice to proclaim that your garment is biodegradable, but who cares? I want to wear trousers for ten years and then pass them on. Precisely not having to put anything back into the ground. That is sustainability to me.”