On average, it takes 1,500 liters (about 396 gallons) of water to produce a single pair of jeans along with pesticides used to grow cotton, chemical-invasive stone washes and dyes dumped into rivers, sandblasting and energy consumed by factories, denim may very well still be one of the least eco-friendly fabrics of them all.
Thankfully ethical fashion brands have been revolutionising denim production, and they’ve nailed it. You can now feel good in your jeans, knowing they’re doing good by people and the planet. Below you’ll find ten brands using eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and sustainable production methods that use less water, energy, and toxic chemicals.
ABLE’s vintage-inspired and distressed handcrafted denim collection is the perfect addition to the casual-chic wardrobe. With high-rise and slouchy styles alongside the classic skinny jean, there’s a fun, edgy pair for every woman. If you don’t get the right size the first time, ABLE also offers unlimited free exchanges until you find the perfect pair. The company is dedicated to creating long-term economic impact by employing female artisans around the world.
If you can’t ever seem to find the perfect vintage denim while you’re shopping secondhand, Reformation has the jeans you’ve been searching for. Ranging from simple and straightforward vintage cuts and washes to unique denim pieces that are sure to turn heads, Reformation has something for everyone. Plus, this sustainable denim comes with an affordable price tag and will last you for years to come.
MOTT & BOW
Sourcing quality cotton denim from the world’s finest denim mills, like Turkey’s Orta Andalou, Mott & Bow is making high-caliber denim at a fair price. By keeping production within the organization—at a longstanding family-run fair wage factory in Honduras—Mott & Bow can sell directly to consumers without all the retail markups. It also offers a free home try-on service for some styles to ensure you get the perfect fit.
DL1961 brought national attention to ethical denim through its collaboration with Honest Company co-founder Jessica Alba. The brand uses innovative eco-friendly fibers and its vertically integrated system reduced its amount of water, dye, and energy used. The pieces also incorporate TENCEL® & Modal® to increase durability, softness, and sustainability. DL1961 has an undeniable pulse on chic denim fashion and ethical innovation. For that, it gets two thumbs up from our team at The Good Trade.
WARP + WEFT
As one of the most size-inclusive, ethically made, and sustainable denim companies on the market, it’s no surprise that Warp + Weft is on our list. Thanks to customer feedback, the brand has added more than 75 new styles and sizes (00 to 24)—because everyone should feel good in their denim. Warp + Weft also saves and recycles 98 percent of the water it uses thanks to its vertical manufacturing operation. Now that’s the kind of denim we want to invest in.
Nudie Jeans was driven by a love for dry denim: raw, untreated denim that reveals more about you and your life the longer you live in (and with) them. Because the jeans are meant to be worn a lot, Nudie offers free tear repairs for life. And if you’re done with a pair for good, the company gives buyers 20 percent off a new pair when you turn in an old one—some of which are then washed and sold again as part of its Re-Use collection. Whether high-waisted or mid-, tapered or straight, Nudie’s cotton is always recycled, fair trade, or GOTS-certified organic.
Based in Portland and manufactured in Los Angeles, Bluer Denim is a standout option for American-made quality denim. What really gets our attention is how it gives back. If you send your old jeans back to Bluer, it’ll wash and donate them to a shelter and give you a $10 credit. And as a member of 1% For the Planet, Bluer donates a portion of annual sales to environmental non-profit organizations. We love this simple model of waste reduction and community care.
Buck Mason was founded by Erik Allen and Sasha Koehn with the ideals of American wardrobe classics (from tees to Oxford shirts to denim) at its heart. Aiming for the items to be American-made, as well, Buck Mason has made hundreds of thousands of products in the U.S. and has grown its domestic production by over 100 percent per year since 2014. The company knits all its own fabrics; its durable long-grain cotton is sourced from cotton growers; and it maintains fair working conditions for factory employees.
Levi’s is almost synonymous with denim. For decades, it has been a leading manufacturer for jeans, jackets, and every kind of denim in between; and with great power comes great responsibility. That’s why it’s shifted to eco-friendly practices that reduce water consumption, recycle and re-purpose old vintage denim, responsibly source cotton and Tencel™ Lyocell, and more. Whether you’re all about slim fit, high rise, or tapered jeans, there are limitless fits, sizes, and colors for everyone.
Five-hundred billion gallons of water are used to make U.S. denim alone—every year. Instead, Boyish produces jeans with only a third of the amount of water—and it’s recycled. Pair that with sustainable fabrics, eco-friendly packaging, and cruelty-free practices, and you’ve got denim that’s as pure as it feels. Elevate your look with frayed jeans, bring back the denim skirt, or hop into some stylish overalls. No matter what look you’re going for, Boyish has a timeless and easy fit to match.