Did you know that a single pair of jeans requires 8000 litres of water to produce?
Although created using a natural fabric – cotton, jeans production is one of the most unsustainable manufacturing processes in the world.
A regular denim manufacturing has extremely negative environmental impact.
Not only that cotton growth requires tons of water, but it’s the toxic pesticides and fertilisers, chemicals and dyes, as well as the energy used in the denim manufacturing process that makes one of our favourite wardrobe pieces completely unsustainable.
Luckily, slowly but surely the denim industry is embracing new practices that are better for the people and the environment.
What makes jeans sustainable?
Simply put, minimising water, chemicals and energy in the production process is a basic way to make denim eco-friendly. Of course, it’s not that simple and there are many factors to take under the consideration, such as:
- NATURAL FIBRES: using organic or recycled cotton made without pesticides
- NATURAL DYES: using plant-based dyes instead of synthetic, toxic dyes
- WATER USAGE REDUCTION: reducing wasteful water consumption and water pollution; recycling water when possible
- FEWER DIPIN INTO DYE BATHS: dipping fabric fewer times to conserve energy and water
- RECACBLE OR RECYCLED BUTTONS AND ZIPPERS: giving a new life to deadstock or recycled hardware in order to make less waste
- RECYCLABLE LABEL AND PACKAGING: less plastic, less waste
- ETHICALLY MADE: providing safe and ethical working conditions and honest wages
- TRANSPARENT SUPPLY CHAIN: disclosure of supply chain information to all parties included
- LOW CARBON FOOTPRINT: minimising the impact of the carbon emissions
Once we know our sustainability basics, let’s see which brands put the theory into practice.
Since jeans are a classic staple you can hold on to forever, it would be a smart move to invest in an eco-friendly pair. Here’s where to start.
WHY WE LOVE IT: E.L.V., which stands for East London Vintage is a British zero-waste denim brand that designs and manufactures all collections in, you guessed it, their East London factory. They source unwanted jeans from vintage warehouses, which are then washed and redesigned, in order to create new unique pieces. This way they are minimising waste, water and carbon footprint.
PRICE: from £245
WHY WE LOVE IT: Designed in Los Angeles, Boyish is a sustainable women’s denim line focused on vintage silhouettes and high quality. All jeans are produced with sustainable fabrics in an eco m-friendly and cruelty-free process, from ethical factories to less harmful dyes to reduced water usage.
PRICE RANGE: from £121
WHY WE LOVE IT: Vintage-inspired LA brand Re/Done was created out of love for iconic Levi’s denim. They take vintage and pre-loved denim apart and repurpose and transform it into a new unique pair of jeans. This way they keep a vintage character but have that modern fit too.
PRICE: from £135
WHY WE LOVE IT: Agolde is a premium Los Angeles-based denim label that focuses on design, sustainability and comfort. They use advanced methods to reduce brand’s environmental impact, including laser technology, ozone machines and high-efficiency wash methods
PRICE: from £140
WHY WE LOVE IT: Made in Wales, The Hiut Denim Company is committed to manufacture their denim in a small town factory that employs local people. They pride themselves in high quality so the brand encourages people to wear their jeans as long as they can without washing to preserve them, as well as to minimise the environmental impact.
PRICE: from £155
WHY WE LOVE IT: M.i.h. stands for Made in Heaven, British denim label founded in 1969 and re-launched in 2006 as M.i.h Jeans by Chloe Lonsdale, founder’s god-daughter. The brand is committed to low impact fabrics and processes, includiend certified organic cotton and dyes, water-reducing washes, recycled polyester badges and paper hangtags, as well as transparency and ethical supply chain.
PRICE: from £160
WHY WE LOVE IT: Mud Jeans was born in 2012 with the idea of becoming a circular fashion company. That means they only use two materials to make their jeans, organic and recycled cotton. By making toxic-free jeans out of recycled denim they avoid waste and cut down on water and CO2 use. You can also lease their jeans!
PRICE: from £80, lease from £7
WHY WE LOVE IT: This Swedish denim brand was founded in 2001 by Maria Erixon. It focuses on sustainable and high quality 100% organic cotton denim collections, at reasonable prices and fair production.
PRICE RANGE: from £89
WHY WE LOVE IT: Sustainable premium brand Outland Denim was created with an idea to provide training and employment to women who were victims of sex trafficking. They produce natural denim with minimal impact, reducing the usage of water and energy while having a completely transparent supply chain.
PRICE: from £95
WHY WE LOVE IT: Monkee Genes is an affordable eco denim brand founded in 2006. All of their garments are fairly and ethically produced in GOTS certified factories using organic cotton.
PRICE: from £40
How to care for denim to prolong its life?
Washing denim is quite debatable, actually. While some might say you need to wash your jeans every 4-5 wears, some argue that jeans should never be washed (okay, maybe once a year).
The reason behind it is the fact that the washing and drying process breaks down the fibres of the denim eventually making them less stiff. The dye also fades and they become overall less durable.
Still, you need to wash your denim for numerous hygienic reasons but make sure to:
- Turn inside out to preserve the colour and prevent damages
- Machine wash cold, gentle cycle if needed
- Airy dry or tumble dry low heat and take them out while still damp
- Cool iron if needed, if you hand them straight away after washing they probably won’t need it
EXTRA TIP: There’s a simple trick to freshen jeans without machine washing. Simply hand them in the bathroom while taking a shower – the steam will help to freshen them and you won’t need to iron them either (thank you, humidity!) Air dry them afterwards until completely dry.
Find our full garment care guide here.