On Tuesday, January 28, 1986 the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight. Turns out an O-ring seal in the right solid rocket booster failed at liftoff. The morning of the launch, the temperature was unusually cold which made the ring turn brittle. NASA scientists overlooked that one small detail.
Ok, so making clothing isn’t exactly rocket science, but making beautiful clothing that is also sustainable down to the last detail? That’s complex. For many brands, making garments that are eco-friendly seems to be a star too far. NASA, like KOI, knows first hand that it’s the little things that make or break us. Those cute little buttons on your shirts? Over 90% of them are made from plastic. Take a KOI shirt. How could we possibly pull off plastic when we put so much effort in creating the perfect recycled cotton blend? When we’ve spent years figuring out how to color that recycled cotton blend with minimal water waste and chemicals, then had it stitched in a factory as close to home as possible. Plastic buttons would be the brittle O-rings that mean we well and truly “have a problem.”
So we seek out the very best clean alternative for that little plastic button. Which happens to be Coroso, made from coconut. Yep. And not just any coconut. Nooo. The most sustainable coconut. We use the coconut that’s picked to eat, making sure there is no unnecessary waste and that coconut can still serve its purpose in life.
It's the little things that make our work stand out. Hard work, but it pays off. Seeing our eco-friendly KOI Carp hangtag dangle from our clothing in-store reminds us that a product that was truly made with care can go out into the world with a mission. To communicate that care for the environment, care for the workers, care for the materials, the finishing and the packaging, are crucial if we’re going to say that we care for our home planet.
Seems like tiny steps, maybe, but we know any 100% sustainable garment is one giant leap for humankind.
All of our denims have a decorative pocket folder made by a company called Cadica from Capri, Italy. All pocket folders are all made from recycled paper. They’re our tribute to a time when pocket flashers were used to protect the jeans. Our men’s pocket folders show a cool cowboy riding a KOI Carp while the women get a graceful geisha on a horse. Both inspired by our love for American classics and the Japanese eye for detail.
All of the patches on the back of the waistband of our jeans are vegan, produced by Euromark in Vigonza, Italy. Most of them have a patch made from jacron, so pressed paper. And some are made from a blend of recycled and new polyester.
Though most manufacturers replaced the donut rivets with nipple rivets because they are a lot cheaper, together with Metal bottoni, a production company from Chiuduno in Italy, we decided to stick with donut rivets because they last so much longer. To top that off, we make them from recycled metal.
Fish bone bar tack
For the stitching of our bar tacks we work with COATS, a supplier with ateliers close to our denim factories. They place our signature bar tack right on the spot where the most force is put on the leg, to reinforce the jeans and make them last longer. It prevents the denim from tearing. Ours is a specially designed fishbone, in reference to the KOI carp.
Ticking stripe pocketing & fly
Our pocket bags and the backside of the fly are made by COPEN, a company that was founded in New York City over 75 years ago and branched out to the UK, Tunisia, Bulgaria and China. They put together our pocketing from an organic cotton and recycled polyester ticking stripe fabric with quite a reputation. The ticking stripe used to cover mattresses and pillow covers in the old U.S. prisons. Sturdy and strong!
The specially designed recycled paper hang tags attached to all Kings Of Indigo apparel are made by Cadica in Italy, the same company that produces our pocket folders. The hangtags mention the name, size and style number of each garment. And lucky you, each comes with a special spare button in a teeny, tiny envelope.