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July 28 2014

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2 posts tagged "Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko"

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

Raleigh, New York

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North Carolina, home of the wonk-approved Cone Denim Mills, is one of America’s centers of jean-making. It is also home and namesake to Raleigh Denim, the young denim brand that has, since 2009, been quietly making some very, very good jeans using that hometown fabric. Barneys picked up Raleigh back in ’09, at which point the business went from hobby to career. (Previously, Raleigh’s husband-and-wife founders Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko had been making jeans for friends; he’d previously been a soccer player in a professional European league, she a willing travel-along.)

As the business grew, the Lytvinenkos opened a small shop, the Curatory, in the front of their Raleigh, N.C., workspace, where a window to the back offered shoppers a clear view of the full works. It was there that an emissary from OMA, Rem Koolhaas’ design firm, which has created stores for Prada and Viktor & Rolf, discovered the couple, and a partnership was born. Raleigh’s new, New York store, which opens officially tonight, was designed by OMA’s New York director, Shohei Shigematsu. Where the Raleigh home store is woodsy, New York is airy. “North Carolina is where we are looking back,” Victor explained at a preview yesterday. “New York is where we are looking forward.”

The store takes its inspiration from the warren-style rooms of a traditional Southern home, one leading into another. That structure is realized in the shoebox-size space by a giant metal grating system—Lytvinenko calls it an “armature”—that can be adapted by adding anything from a thousand or so paper airplanes (currently alit on the grates), blocks of wood, denim, or just about anything else. “We wanted something that can move as quickly as the season or the collection,” Lytvinenko said.

Raleigh Denim is now open at 211 Elizabeth St., NYC, raleighdenim.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Raleigh Denim