A few weeks ago we talked about how difficult it can be to buy clothing in Buenos Aires if you so happen to be a person that doesn’t fit the traditional S-M-L. On that note, we named a few (local!) brands that take a more inclusive approach to their clothing catalogue and who choose to produce clothes that suit a wider variety of bodies – you know, trying to reflect a bit more accurately the diversity one sees on a regular day in a regular street and all.
We know inclusion doesn’t stop there. Inclusion isn’t just a matter of sizes: it’s something that can (and should) be embedded throughout an entire production process, like the case of Limay Denim.
We talked to Mercedes Krom, the mind that shaped Limay into what it is today. We say “mind” and not “hands” because the truth is that Limay is built by many different hands: from the people that work side by side with Mercedes, to every single member of the cooperativas that produce, sew and wash the clothes. In its essence, Limay propositions itself as a brand that wants to show an alternative to today’s mass consumption of clothing. It is a brand that says that you can produce items on a small scale without losing focus of your values and, especially, a brand that puts forth a less mindless way of purchasing. Limay guides us to buy only what we need and to support projects with positive impacts when we do choose to consume.
How did Limay start?
Above all, Limay is the consequence of many years of work. I’ve made jeans for about 15 years, and at the time I had only worked as an employee for bigger brands. I’ve always loved producing jeans because of their potential for a much more horizontal and democratic production structure. That’s the thing that I think is great about jean production and clothing production in general: it’s a process that includes many different stages and in doing so, people of very different skill sets, and this can hugely democratize a process.
Aside from this, I’m a pretty technical person, so I’m super into the “nerdy” side of clothing production: pattern making, the technical aspects in regards to washes and the chemicals involved, and jean production has a lot to do with that. Limay ended up forming as a place for me to combine all the things I like to do. It connects me to my roots which are firmly set in Patagonia, because I come from Cutralco, a very small city in Neuquén.
What inspires you when it comes to creating a new piece?
Inspiration… In general, I think the most important thing is to create something that will last, something of quality, and just basic items that can be as timeless as possible. The way we produce our clothing is essentially against fast fashion, because a piece of clothing that’s well done, well cut and sewn, and made out of quality materials can last you many years, and that’s precisely what we want. In that sense, for example, I love that sort of vintage aesthetic, and I believe it also has to do with this sort of nod to things that were produced many years ago and are still in use today.
How did you start working with work cooperatives?
For many years, I worked at a jean factory. This was a factory that was in General Pico, La Pampa, and I used to go there a lot, and so I made a lot of friends there. When the factory closed, the municipal government ended up taking in all the machine operators and giving them a space to continue working. So the way I saw it, it was very important to continue working and creating new work with them, so I started sending my jeans to them.
I think the strongest guiding value I have today is that it’s very important to work in ways that aim to be more horizontal, where the earnings are divided equally and fairly among all the people involved in the chain production. It has to do with that, and also with knowing that behind the creation of one item of clothing there’s a very real, very concrete impact that touches upon local and family economies, and so I want to put my brand in a position that supports and strengthens fair working conditions.
Why, or how, did you decide to develop clothing that’s both genderless and offers up to 14 sizes?
Well, on one side, Limay’s focus is on producing jeans, and I feel like jeans as a piece of clothing have no gender, so that gave me a very concrete starting point. That’s pretty much it. Besides, I see gender as something that we’re constantly questioning ourselves, more so today. This is something I see in the people I hang out with a lot, thinking of gender as something that’s built and not given. On the other hand, the number of sizes is something that took me a while to develop but that was always in the back of my mind. The truth is that I had always wanted to do it because I think that segmenting your audience by size is just plain wrong. The way that happened was that I started to be able to finance one collection with the profits of the other, because I never had enough money to do it any other way, and so I started adding sizes with each new season. At first, if I remember correctly, I did jeans up to size 48, afterwards, it was 52, and now we do up to size 60 (you can check out their size guide here). The fact that people started to buy into what we were doing also allowed us to do things this way.
Why did you decide to bow out of participating in the Hot Sale and instead to use that opportunity to help the bachillerato, Mocha Celis?
The Mocha Celis is a place that unites many people that we really love, and a place with which we’ve built this idea of working together and developing ideas with a positive impact together. On a very personal note, I love them, really, and we had also worked with them before and it was an incredible experience: last year we developed a pair of jeans, the chupín Mocha, and ensured that a portion of every sale was dedicated to creating a source of income for the school.
In addition, not participating in the Hot Sale was also a way of putting forth our values, a way of saying “This doesn’t represent our brand, so why would we participate in it?” So we took advantage of the visibility that those days usually have to join forces with Mocha Celis that, as I said, is a place where things with positive impacts happen, things that help others. It also has to do a bit with taking advantage of the visibility we have today through our followers on social media and such to, in a way, try and close certain gaps.
Pss, also – check out this article about la Mocha’s teje solidario and how they’re creating community and support (and how you can help!)
What do you see as the future of Limay?
I think the future has to focus on developing the brand within these same values that we have already established, and so in that sense, we can deepen our approach. I think that’s the most important thing, so rather than thinking about growing in size, I’m going to think if I can grow the brand while still maintaining what the brand is today and what its core values are. With that in mind… I think the future will bring a few changes. We want to enhance certain visual aspects of the brand and focus on being more sustainable. The idea is not to scale the brand and make it huge at the expense of everything we’ve already done because it’s not what we hold as our values and it just wouldn’t make sense with who we are.
Want to learn more about Limay and how they work? Check out their web 🙂