You Can Thank a Los Gatos Couple for this Super-Sustainable Clothing Line

Arkins is based in New York and produced in Manhattan, but co-founders Germaine DeNigris and Nicolas Chow grew up here in the Bay Area—Los Gatos, to be precise. The couple launched their eco-friendly line in 2014 with the idea that comfortable, quality clothing should be produced in a socially conscious manner. 

 Photo: Arkins

Photo: Arkins

What they've delivered is a cool, reasonably-priced minimalist line: everything in the collection is less than $200.

Arkins sources textiles in several socially-responsible ways. Cotton for knits comes from fairly-paid farmers in the Aegean region of Turkey and India, and is knitted and dyed with PETA-approved dyes in Portugal or Turkey. The brand's spring gingham is deadstock from a previous collection, and the swimwear fabric is an Italian-made blend of Xtra Life Lycra and Econyl, (a regenerated polyester fiber from pre- and post-consumer materials). Arkins pieces are produced in small batches in Manhattan's Garment District to keep styles exclusive and to reduce waste. 

This season, the brand's packaging is also sustainable: the company's mailers are 100 percent recycled, as are the plastic garment protectors. They even use biodegradable tape.

For DeNigris—who started studying fashion at City College of San Francisco before transferring to FIT in New York—the sustainability factor was non-negotiable.

 Photo: Arkins

Photo: Arkins

"Diving into the fashion industry as a newcomer, I was really shocked to see what goes on behind the scenes; the stuff they don't teach you at school. The normalcy of slave labor and unfair wages, children being poisoned by their local cotton farms pesticides, etc. It was too much pain to ignore," DeNigris explains. "It's endlessly rewarding to know that all over the world, from Turkey and Portugal to Manhattan, we're creating safe jobs with fair pay where workers feel valued and respected as part of our team." 

Right now, Arkins is only available online, but DeNigris says she's open to a homecoming pop-up show in the future. Check out a sampling of the line in the slideshow above, or shop the complete collection at shop-arkins.com.