The Best Eco-Friendly Jeans And Denim Brands You Should Know About
To put it bluntly, the denim industry has one of the worst ethical and environmental footprints in fashion: the indigo dye has turned Chinese rivers blue, excessive amounts of water are used and millions of tons of blue jeans are discarded annually. In fact, approximately 1.7 million tons of various chemicals go into producing two billion pairs of jeans each year. Add to that the fact it can take up to 7,000 litres of water to create a single pair of jeans and you’re left with some pretty shocking stats. For instance, around 783 million people have no access to clean drinking water, yet your average pair of jeans uses enough water to sustain a family of four for a month. Shocking indeed.
Thankfully, it's not all doom and gloom though. We’ve done the hard work for you and found the denim brands pushing the boundaries and changing their processes to make the most eco-friendly jeans. You’re welcome.
Re/Done don’t consider themselves a denim company but more a movement to create sustainable fashion. Levi’s denim only gets better with age, which is why Re/Done take their vintage denim apart at the seams and repurpose them as the fabric of their new jeans, to create new styles so your denim can have both vintage character and modern fit. Every pair is a one off, plus, they manufacture their jeans using water conserving methods and no harsh chemicals.
Founded by Surf champ Kelly Slater and acclaimed designer John Moore, Outerknown believe that style and sustainability should be synonymous. Last year they launched their SEA Jeans, a new collection using 100 per cent organic cotton, working with the world’s leading environmentally friendly mills and their factory recycles 98 per cent of the water it uses to create the denim. Plus, these jeans come with a lifetime guarantee. Outerknown will replace or repair any damaged jeans and they’re upcycle old pairs too.
Marks & Spencer
Using low-impact technology from industrial laser machinery producers Jeanologia, Marks & Spencer's selvedge jeans require just 14 litres of water during the manufacturing process, offer lower impacts for energy consumption and chemical use and achieved a score of 21 on the Environmental Impact Measurement Score for garment finishes, well below the “low-impact” score of 33. Extra eco features include a biodegradable leather patch on the back pocket, recycled thread and zip tape. Oh, and they'll look great paired with their vegan eco-friendly trainers.
Giving denim its signature blue traditionally uses a heck of a lot of water, energy and chemicals and while Patagonia once used indigo to colour denim – which doesn’t easily adhere to the material – they now employ Archroma Advanced Denim Technology. The innovative dye process not only colours and bonds more easily but also results in the use of 84 per cent less water, 30 per cent less energy and emits 25 per cent less CO2 compared to the conventional denim dyeing process. Plus, they only use 100 per cent organic cotton grown without GMO seeds, synthetic fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides.
Levi’s have come a long way since they produced their first blue jean in 1873. With the launch of their “Water<Less” process in 2011, they have conserved more than three billion litres of water in their manufacturing process and 30 million litres of water through their reuse and recycling. The innovative process has significantly reduced their water usage by up to 96 per cent for some styles and they aim to make 80 per cent of its products using Water<Less techniques, up from nearly 25 per cent currently. Plus, with the launch of their Waste<Less collection in 2013 – a range of products made 20 per cent from recycled waste like plastic bottles – they have managed to use 11.9 million recycled bottles for their products. That’s a pretty impressive step in the right direction.