Instead of inheriting your grandfather’s pocketwatch, Tom Cridland wants future generations to be able to wear their granddads’ jeans. The same self-named clothing label that gave us the 30-year sweatshirt is now offering a pair of jeans guaranteed to last 50 years. The idea behind the clothes is plain and simple: sustainability.
While it’s very trendy to have the hottest styles from the catwalks in your closet for a sliver of the price, this “fast fashion” approach comes at a steep environmental and social cost. It pollutes the world’s waterways, releases a staggering amount of carbon emissions, discarded clothing chokes landfills and workers often toil away under inhumane conditions.
“Fast fashion causes grave problems for people and the planet,” Cridland said. “I wanted our brand to be the antidote to that destructive ethos.”
The Tom Cridland company, which began in 2014 with a £6,000 government loan, has grown into a business that turns over more than £2 million a year.
It all started with Cridland’s idea of making the perfect pair of men's trousers. He didn’t know much about making trousers, but he knew people who did. Cridland is half-Portuguese and spent much of his childhood in Portugal, therefore he was familiar with the country’s reputation for making quality clothing for a fraction of the cost of clothiers elsewhere.
He began collaborating with a production team that’s been making clothes since 1964 to develop these perfect trousers, or as Cridland said ”at least as close to the perfect pair of trousers that we could get.” Soon celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Craig, Nigel Olsson and Ben Stiller were spotted wearing them.
A short time later, Cridland, who is first and foremost an entrepreneur, noticed a lack of designers who focused on eco-friendly fashion. “We were producing really durable clothing anyway,” Cridland said. “I thought it would be a good time ... as a brand to tether it to trying to become more sustainable. It’s good for the brand, good for marketing, it’s an important thing to do in fashion industry.”
From his collaboration with the Portuguese clothesmakers, he already knew that the clothes could last decades. In June 2015, Cridland introduced his sweatshirt that he promises will last for 30 years.
“It (a sweatshirt) might not be at every fancy party that everyone goes to, but that’s not what sweatshirts are for. But a sweatshirt is a thing where you chuck on a few times during the week,” he said.” It seemed like a great choice of something to put a guarantee on.”
According to the guarantee, if the sweatshirt is damaged within 30 years after it’s purchased, it will be repaired for free. So far Cridland said only about 35 items have come back for repair out of thousands sold.
“Our obsessive attention to detail has been worth it,” said Deborah Marx, Cridland’s girlfriend and the company’s managing director.
The 30-year sweatshirt grew into a colorful, yet classically styled collection that also includes men’s trousers, t-shirts, jackets and shirts. There are some items for women, but a fuller collection is set to be released next year.
Cridland's latest endeavor is the jeans that are said to last for a half a century.They are of selvedge denim and Cridland says he knows they will last 50 years because his production team has shown him 50-year-old jeans.
Besides the clothing line, Cridland has launched his own PR firm, plus dressing celebrities has had its own perks. He’s now friends with one of his childhood heros, Olsson who is Elton John’s drummer, and Cridland’s first celebrity client.
Olsson also helped inspire Cridland to start a band, called the Tomicks. The four-person band is a '70s style rock group, where Cridland plays the drums and Marx sings. Their first single was released in October.
The music, Cridland said, is “a big passion and just like the clothing, it’s a product that we’ve made that we’re extremely proud of.”