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July 29 2014

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Do These Jeans Have The World’s Smallest Carbon Footprint?

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In a word, say the designers: Yes.

Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko founded their line, Raleigh (named for their North Carolina home base), on denim. The intervening years have seen them grow it into a full-on contemporary label for men and women, with a Nolita shop as well as their North Carolinian original, but jeans have remained central to the offering. For Fall 2013, which they showed at a crowded presentation near the beginning of New York fashion week, one particular innovation lurked in plain sight. The jeans in question didn’t look different from any that the pair has been turning out. But they are, as far as they can figure, the most local denim ever. Their organic cotton’s cultivation, processing, and weaving all take place within 105 miles of the workshop where the jeans are made. (Currently, the 100 percent organic cotton is used for Raleigh’s weft yarns, while the warp yarn is conventional cotton from Southeastern farms.)

The project required involving the entire supply chain, from farmers to spinners to weaving and knitting mills, and working with Cotton of the Carolinas to find like-minded companies to invest in organic-cotton futures for the different quality levels that each crop produces. (The highest-quality yield goes to the jeans; companies ranging from T-shirt makers to mop producers bought futures at other levels.) Why rally the troops? “We are interested in making something as pure and as close to home as possible,” the Lytvinenkos say. Bragging rights don’t hurt, either.

Raleigh’s Jones Thin Organic jeans, $325, are available now at Raleigh, 211 Elizabeth St., NYC, www.raleighworkshop.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Raleigh Denim

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