Photos by Douglas Cringean

ECO PRK, which stands for “People Reshaping Know How” is a chemical free, environmentally friendly denim washhouse, nestled away in a bijoux building of a light industry area outside of Los Angeles. In this little oasis from the traffic and street noise, on a sunny, even hot, So Cal afternoon, Calik Denim hosted their Oxygene and Elastech workshop and “Denim Saves Water” panel discussion.

Kevin Youn, CEO of ECO PRK took guests through a three-hour process of working with denim to create a desired effect without wasting precious resources. “I didn’t like Ozone at first,” Youn later said at the panel discussion. “I liked stone wash and I didn’t like laser. I wanted each pair to be different. But, here, we use less than a cup of water.” Youn, through his association with ECO PRK and his line Tortoise Denim, has become a believer in the future of denim, keeping premium alive while not sacrificing the environment.

The others on the panel discussion shared Youn’s outlook. Miles Johnson, the Creative Director of Patagonia; George Wilson, owner of Rivi Goods; Heather Morton of Blue Salt Product Development and Ebru Ozaydin, Head of Sales and Marketing for Calik Denim took us through their own struggles and successes in the face of extreme drought, especially in California. Panel host Amy Leverton, author of the book Denim Dudes, spoke of “artisanal laundries” such as ECO PRK, where the future of denim is being preserved and elevated to new innovative heights.

Amy Leverton, George Wilson, Kevin Youn, Ebru Ozaydin, Miles Johnson and Heather Morton
Amy Leverton, George Wilson, Kevin Youn, Ebru Ozaydin, Miles Johnson and Heather Morton

Meanwhile, the virtues of Calik’s own Elastech and Oxygene were on display. Their Oxygene process, for example, saves 95% water, 50% chemicals and 79% of the energy used to make traditional denim. And the company’s Elastech creates a flawless shape, challenging the limitations of stretch denim.

It was an afternoon of sunshine and education, at a charming, intelligent washhouse. It’s the future of denim and not a moment too soon.