Reagan Marlene Begley, the founder and designer of Hargan Denim, spoke with The Green and Blue Journal to share more about her views on repurposing existing clothes and divulge a bit about how her brand works. Check out the Hargan Denim website here.
RMB: Hargan Denim is a brand that aims to bridge the gap between consumers and the industry through design and fashion on what ethical values are and why they are important. Through our "repurposed" denim capsule, we aim to bring attention to how much waste we already have within the denim industry and what it is doing to our environment as landfills overfill. Showing people that sometimes even donating [clothes] to places they think are good, most of the time, those clothes still find their way to a landfill. Reusing, Repurposing, and Recycling these materials into new usable, wearable clothing can keep waste from ending up in landfills. Every collection in the future will highlight an issue with fashion and show how to "resolve" it and explain why we need to [resolve it]. We [Hargan Denim] come out with small collections, always made-to-order, so there is no over-consumption. We theme the collection around a sustainable initiative. My idea around this concept is, to a certain extent, every human cares about fashion, whether they like to admit it or not it's why we all get up and get ready in the morning to get through our day. But not every human cares about sustainability or ethical issues. So I am aiming to gain their attention through the "back door" (design and fashion) instead of the "front door" (sustainability) because I think for some when they hear that word [sustainability] they run in the opposite direction.
GBJ: How did you become interested in sustainable and ethical fashion?
RMB: One of my first classes in the Business of Denim program at FIDM was sustainability. On the first day of class, they had us watch the movie RiverBlue, which really opened my eyes to how bad the fashion industry is, on all levels, from the planet to the people. The program and continuous learning left me wanting to know more. I began reshaping my ethical values, and my mindset changed from wanting to be a designer to wanting to design something that would bring change.
GBJ: What gave you the idea to repurpose denim instead of using new sustainable denim or recycled denim?
RMB: I do hope to use new sustainable denim or recycled denim with future collections. There are a lot of other issues that need attention brought to them with these types of fabrics and the harm they bring on the environment, as well as to the people making them and I wish to touch base on and help consumers understand [new or recycled denim's impact]. We started out with repurposing denim mainly because it was the only reliable source of material I could afford. Denim fabric is such an expensive fabric when made ethically and sustainably, which is hard when you are a new brand starting out, and your only funding is out of your own pocket.
GBJ: How has Hargan Denim evolved into what it is today?
RMB: It all started on accident with a pair of jeans I needed for sampling a final in my patterning class. Somehow now it has brought about an entire collection aiming to educate the average consumer on ethical values and sustainable denim. I am a strong believer in everything happening for a reason. It [Hargan Denim] may not have developed into what I had originally dreamed about as a little girl, but it's becoming even more than I could've hoped for, and it's just the beginning! We still have a very long way to go.
GBJ: Did you have experience with repurposing clothes prior to your work with denim?
RMB: Like any little girl that loves fashion, I was always altering clothing from my closet! Cropping my tanks to the perfect length, bringing in baggy pants from the thrift store that were a little too big, adding in some fabric here or there, ripping up jeans, patching them back up.
GBJ: How do you plan on growing your business and/or spreading the word about sustainable fashion?
RMB: To take it day by day and let whatever comes my way be. I'll continue to collaborate, reach out to people to spread my message, always work with anyone and everyone that offers. The goal is to bring change, and change comes by small actions of millions, not by big actions of a few. We are in this together, and this will grow hopefully with everyone who wants to join and come along for the ride!