Driven by his own generation’s seeming inability to overcome racism, sexism, classism and polluting, Fidelity Denim founder Jason Trotzuk wanted to create a brand that not only spoke to generations Y and Z but also gave a voice to their concerns. With the launch of Modern American in February, Trotzuk gave these consumers a more meaningful shopping experience. While his peers embraced the premium-denim boom that occurred during the early days of the 2000s, Trotzuk has seen a clear shift in the priorities of the audiences he wants to reach. “They don’t care about high-end denim. It means nothing to them. It means nothing to their friends, their social circles—it means absolutely nothing. What matters to that 15-to-35-year-old or 20-to35-year-old is all of the issues that surround them outside of fashion,” he said. “Eco, sustainable, reusable, repurposed fashion is totally in. They want locally made versus product imported from countries that don’t deal with human-welfare issues.” As a member of Generation X, Trotzuk recognizes his place sits between the Baby Boomer generation that grew up following World War II and during the Vietnam War and these younger generations that are facing the greatest global

crises of environmental threats and socio-political strife. “Even though these generations are faced with the biggest challenge we’ve faced as a species, they don’t know how to get together. As a designer, I want to create what I am seeing on Instagram—baggy jeans, mom jeans and dad jeans, but my Fidelity customer isn’t interested,” he said. “I had to make sure the brand itself had meaning and substance.” Modern American products are made ethically and completely in North America with cotton from the United States, denim production at Tavex and Double Dragon in Mexico, and jeans manufactured in Mexico and Los Angeles. Zippers are made using material from 100 percent recycled water bottles, while labels and trims are created from 100 percent post-consumer waste. The brand relies on a wash process that reduces water usage and utilizes waterless ozone finishing. Silhouettes include the women’s Soho Crop, a Soho Skinny, The Highland—an updated boyfriend—and a ’70s-style wide leg. Men’s cuts feature the Ventura, a relaxed fit, and Fig, a skinny. “I was always fascinated with the history of the U.S., but at

this point I made a decision that I didn’t care what happened in the past, I want to see what we can do in the future,” Trotzuk said. “Vintage Americana was glorious and wonderful, but that was in the past, and we need to march forward by looking forward. I wanted to know what a Modern American looks like.” Turning his denim making into a mission through the Modern American brand seems promising for Trotzuk. Upon its launch at Nordstrom in Los Angeles and New York, the brand gained a large following for two weeks—and the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Retailing for $120–$140, Modern American is part of Trotzuk’s vision to use his brand as a platform. “If I had 10 million members of ModAm and I sold an eco hat and took $20 from each sale from that hat alone it would give me $200 million, which is a good start,” he said. “I could start lobbying for change and motivating people.” As retail begins to open up and consumers return to bricks-and-mortar shops in a safe, slow manner, Trotzuk has been selling Modern American denim and face masks, which retail at $25 for a pack of four, through To support the brand’s mindful movement and show gratitude to front-line workers during the coronavirus pandemic, Modern American also donates masks to these heroes.  “I am trying to do more than just make jeans,” Trotzuk explained. “I am trying to create a movement that might change the planet. It’s bold and it’s aggressive, but it’s time.” —Dorothy Crouch