The 18 Most Sustainable Jeans & Denim Brands

It’s cotton, but hardy and long-lasting. Can’t get sweeter than that, in terms of sustainability. But denim brands are, for the most part, made very unsustainably – with excessive water wastage, chemical use, worker abuse, and more. The denim manufacturing section of the fashion industry is, after all, still part of the fashion industry. And denim is one of the most popular fashion products, so we can imagine the corners that have been cut over the decades to maximize profits. All of this is to say that there are several sustainable jeans & denim brands that we can focus on instead. 

Before we get into it, remember that the most sustainable thing you can do is to not buy anything. That’s not possible, especially when you’re looking to replace your torn jeans. Second most sustainable option? Buy secondhand. You might even snag a designer piece for a low price. Buying secondhand reduces the demand for new clothes, and also prevents existing clothes from being thrown away.

The third most sustainable option? Buy from ethical, fair-trade manufacturers of denim clothing. This way, you can be sure that the jeans have been made sustainably (and are of good quality that will last you a long time), and that they haven’t treated the workers in their supply chain unethically. 

sustainable jeans & denim brands

Important Mini-Digression + Disclaimer: There are several ways a manufacturer can cause harm to the environment. Using organic cotton is ideal, but growing acres of cotton crops is already a strain on the environment. But we deem this “necessary” since things have to be made and sold. (And this isn’t just a capitalism problem, but a deeply human one. We like new things, we like more things. Unfortunately for the environment.) So, this is a disclaimer that even if the company is as perfect as it is possible to be throughout its supply chain, the environment still gets damaged. Let’s keep that in mind. Damage is being done. These companies just do less of it than the others, and are therefore marginally better to buy from.   

Ok, that was that. Let’s get back to the sustainable denim brands conversation.

 

What’s the Problem with Denim Production?

The fashion industry is incredibly (criminally) polluting. Tons of chemicals and dyes are released from factories into the surrounding ecosystems, particularly rivers and other water bodies. 

Also, each pair of jeans requires 7,000 kg of water during its making, according to Greenpeace. And roughly 2 billion pairs of jeans are produced every year (2016 data!). The math is super scary.

The documentary River Blue does a good job of explaining the terrible spillover effects of the fashion industry, denim in particular. 

You can watch the whole thing here.

 

What is Ethical Denim?

Ethical denim is denim that tries to minimize the ill-effects of denim manufacture. Ethical denim is sustainably made from GOTS-certified organic cotton.

Water-efficient processes are also important. Brands are countering water wastage with technology as well as water recycling.

Ethical denim brands also take into consideration the workers and the environment. Workers are paid fair wages, treated with dignity and given the right tools for their work.

 

The Most Sustainable Jeans & Denim Brands

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ABLE 

Sustainable Jeans & Denim Brands

This brand is more about the fair-trade aspect, but their denim clothing is gorgeous (like the denim jacket above). They pay their workers in Ethiopia, Mexico and Peru fair living wages, and also publish their wages in the interest of transparency and accountability.

 

Bleed 

Germany’s Bleed makes ethical and sustainable outdoor clothing that’s vegan. These denims are made with 98% GOTS-certified cotton for comfortable, everyday wear.

 

C&A

C&A makes jeans that are both sustainably made, and designed to be recycled.

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Everlane

sustainable jeans & denim brands

Everlane jeans are designed for the opposite of built-in obsolescence: they last as long as it’s possible for a pair to last.

 

E.L.V. Denim 

sustainable jeans & denim brands

A zero waste denim brand? E.L.V. Denim recycles in the best way – they collect discarded items and transform them into made-to-measure pieces. Each pair is so cool! They’re made of two halves of separate vintage jeans, making up one utterly unique and stylish pair of jeans. 

 

Kuyichi

sustainable jeans & denim brands

This one is the original: the very first organic denim brand, founded way back in 2001. Kuyichi is also known to help non-profit organizations through their business.

 

M.i.h Jeans 

sustainable jeans & denim brands

They work with ISKO, aka the only denim factory awarded the EU Ecolabel and Nordic Swan Ecolabel environmental certifications.

 

MUD Jeans 

MUD Jeans is built on a circular economy framework, so you can return your old jeans to them. MUD will shred them, and blend with organic cotton to give birth to new denim yarn. Upcycling jeans at its finest! 

MUD also has a Lease or Buy option – you can ‘lease’ a pair of jeans on subscription and return them when you’re fed up. So much better than buying and not using them or – gasp – throwing them away.

 

Nudie Jeans

sustainable jeans & denim brands

Nudie Jeans uses of eco-friendly materials in a way that limits the chemicals and water used in production. Their jeans are made with stretch jet black denim, adding that chic factor to your eco-friendly credentials. They also have Repair Shops where you can, well, repair your jeans.

 

Outland Denim 

Outland only creates products on demand. Wow! They also have been awarded for their treatment of workers and for tracing their suppliers throughout the supply chain to ensure ethical conduct.

 

Reformation 

Reformation’s sustainable denim line, Ref Jeans, are made from deadstock fabric, which is fabric that hasn’t been sold.

 

DL1961

Finisterre

Mott & Bow

Warp + Weft

Buck Mason

Levi’s

Boyish

Zola Amour 

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REPAIR + RECYCLE

What are the other options, apart from buying brand new jeans?

Places like Nudie Jeans and Levi’s invite customers to bring their jeans back into store to be repaired, which extends their lifecycle.

Certain denim brands invite their customers to send back their old jeans to be recycled with them – MUD Jeans shreds old jeans and uses the material to create new pairs, for example.

Finisterre announced a great project last month – their recycled denim collection, which takes denim recovered from landfill and turns them into jumpers and beanie hats.

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So, there you have it! Sustainable options for the timeless, classic wardrobe staple. I hope you found this list useful!

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sustainable jeans & denim brands | Slow Fashion Sustainable Fashion-2

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE DETAILS.

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  1. […] at thrift stores for some excellent thrift store fashion finds. But organic denim and cotton clothing. Fast fashion exploits workers along the supply chain and has a huge negative […]

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