Take a good look around at your next hip hop concert, city park stroll, or while waiting in line for bubble tea, and there's no doubting that creative self-expression is the new social currency among youth culture.
Whereas before, an unusual shade of hair color or deliberately "ugly" pair of shoes used to be the exception, now it's the rule and Generation Z is hungry for more ways to set itself apart and celebrate the uniqueness of every individual within its community. Garish outfits, amalgamated mixed-genre music, experimental makeup trends and gender fluidity all point to a society where "weird" is a positive adjective, or perhaps has a new definition altogether.
It's refreshing to see a global shift in attitude, in which tomorrow's leaders commend each other for traits that would have previously warranted ostracism, but this also means that consumer goods companies, particularly those specializing in accessories, apparel and beauty, need to step up their game to accommodate the demand for products that sit nicely at the intersection of originality, quality, and affordability.
And how do you paint such a perfect picture for the next generation? You give them a blank canvas...
Enter VENIM, a new kind of brand that invites customers to collaborate on the design of their wardrobe staples, without compromise to polish, quality, or style.
What is VENIM?
VENIM is a customizable denim company and lifestyle brand that initiated in 2018 with a focus on just one core product category: the custom denim jacket.
With a classic denim trucker jacket as their canvas, customers can select their own artistic elements such as a metallic foil finish or racing stripe with customizable text. Prefer silver buttons over gold? This can be accommodated, as can various fit preferences (long versus short, fitted versus oversized) and denim washes.
Oftentimes results are one of a kind, offering the wearer a truly unique and collectible piece, but all custom options remain carefully curated and look coordinated, no matter the combinations made. This includes the addition of optional accessories designed to work in conjunction with the jackets, such as a detachable waterproof hood or furry sherpa collar.
This whole design and selection process is experienced directly through VENIM's custom configurator, an online tool that allows users to build their jacket virtually and preview their design in real-time. And after checkout, even the most complicated of finishes still permits a quick turnaround for a custom denim jacket: delivery within just two weeks of order placement.
Why Custom Denim Jackets?
After all, Gen Z could have just as easily put its own unique spin on umbrellas, sundresses, or button down shirts, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of other fashion categories simply don't have the staying power of denim, which seems to operate on its own wavelength and has somehow managed to continuously grow year-over-year into a multi-billion dollar industry despite having been popularized by our great (or great, great) grandparents.
The short answer is that denim is a global wonder fabric; comfortable, durable, easily manipulated and always in style, while the classic denim jacket silhouette (also known as a "trucker jacket") we know and love is perfectly utilitarian, unisex, and unequivocally iconic. Idols such as a the late James Dean and John Lennon propelled the denim jacket's prevalence through the second half of the twentieth century and more modern figures like Pharrell Williams and Rihanna have carried the torch.
The longer answer is more nuanced than that; that in order to keep the world's favorite fabric from destroying its biggest fans, denim production processes and consumption are in desperate need of change.
Made a Better Way
VENIM was founded on the principle of owning fewer, better things, and understands that part of what makes a garment special and worth holding onto is one's own involvement in its creation. By simply being customizable and therefore special, VENIM is inherently discouraging "throwaway" behavior in consumers, helped along by the fact that fast fashion is finally on its way out, anyway.
But this isn't enough to make up for the fact that denim textile production creates excessive water waste and oftentimes uses chemicals that are harmful for the environment. It takes around 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of regular jeans, plus nearly 10,000 gallons of water for the dye process. Add in the fact that most denim apparel production has moved into countries like China at the sacrifice of better-quality construction, and so many thousands of gallons of water are being used on denim apparel that doesn't last as long as it should.
All of this is why VENIM's custom denim jackets are made from the excess denim yardage of designer denim brands such as Helmut Lang and Diane Von Furstenberg. VENIM doesn't produce any new denim fabric, but rather purchases unused yards from other designers' previous seasons. This not only allows the brand to take advantage of the rigorous trend forecasting and testing conducted by larger fashion houses, but also helps reduce development costs passed on to consumers.
Other efforts made by VENIM to keep its custom denim jackets as ethical as possible include zero use of animal-based materials in its products and domestic production in Los Angeles, California to help reduce carbon footprint. Los Angeles is also one of the only denim production capitals in the country with strict water recycling laws in place for its factories.
Form, Fit, and Function
How do you prioritize the essential characteristics of any well-made product? Once again, VENIM went straight to the source and conducted its own market research survey to answer the question of what makes customers tick. As it turns out, "form" has led the charge of sending denim jackets into the wardrobes of millions, with a resounding sense of "ease", "coolness", and "timelessness" in its support. This seems to be the conventional denim jacket's reason for perpetual existence and popularity, despite there being so many more high-performing successors.
Functionality comes in close behind, notably achieved through ample and thoughtfully-placed pockets, fabric durability, and overall softness and comfort of wear. The denim jacket was designed to be utilitarian in favor of the blue collar laborers destined to wear it