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I hate to break it to you, but your jeans are (probably) pretty bad for the environment. As a denim lover—I literally have over 20 pairs in my collection—this fact hurts me in a major way. So, I set out to find a few new sustainable denim brands to fall in love with—and boy, did I find ‘em. Oh, and of course I rounded them up for you to shop, too.
Earth Day has come and gone, but I think that we can all agree that making sustainable choices should be a year-round thing—especially when it comes to the clothing that we wear. Supporting brands that have ethical practices means we can all feel good about what we put on every single day. Yes, sometimes that means that the pieces are pricier, but I always prefer to splurge on an item and have it for years, rather than buy a new version every single season.
You probably already know big-name sustainable brands like Everlane and Reformation, but have you heard of Nudie Jeans? What about EB Denim or ÉTICA? Turns out, so! many! brands are creating jeans that use less water or no harmful chemicals or pesticides, or are made with recycled fabrics like Tencel, created from old fishing nets. Seriously—the options are endless! Don’t feel like you can’t find a pair you love.
Family-owned brand DL1961 makes jeans using less than 10 gallons of water. Even better, Mud Jeans lets you lease your favorite pairs for a year before returning them for a refreshed style. And for all you science-y shoppers out there, brands like Boyish jeans are even using triple-molecule Ozone to create a lived-in look. Tell me again why you aren’t investing in sustainable denim??
With that, read on to shop 10 of my favorite sustainable brands for jeans. Going green has never looked so good.
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As a vertically integrated company, sustainability is at the root of everything ÉTICA does. They’re a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, use liquid indigo (instead of powder) and reuse deadstock fabric in many of their designs, like these light-wash jeans Their fibers are actually biodegradable and require less water than the average jeans to make.They also rely on alternative fibers like Tencel, Refibra and other cellulose fibers sourced directly from renewable wood.
2. EB Denim
EB Denim specializes in the reconstruction of old Levis in Los Angeles, California. They hand-select the jeans they reuse to create a line of edgy styles that are designed to look better with time. They also recycle excess fibers to create other clothing, so that nothing ever goes to waste. Whether you’re after a two-toned style or a pair that’s decked out with silver hardware and chains, EB Denim has you covered for cool-girl jeans.
Re/DONE was founded in 2014 with one goal in mind: to repurpose vintage men’s jeans to perfectly fit a woman’s body. Since then, they have diverted over 100,000 pairs of jeans away from landfills. They also have a dedicated Upcycled Line and launched the RE/DONE Marketplace, where shoppers can buy and sell their used jeans and buy vintage goods. They’ve even partnered with brands like Hanes to create a line of tanks and tees from recycled cotton. This pair of white wide-leg jeans is one of my favorite styles on the site.
4. Warp + Weft
Warp + Weft aims to create a jean that uses less water. A normal pair of jeans requires 1,500 gallons of water to be made—Warp + Weft’s jeans only need 10 gallons. They also recycle 98 percent of the water that they use and shy away from bleaching their jeans (which is harmful to the environment) by way of state-of-the-art Dry Ozone technology. Oh—and they make their denim from scratch using cotton, Lyrca and Tencel.
DL1961 takes your old denim and uses that deadstock fabric (along with post-consumer waste like those plastic bottles you recycle) to create their line of luxury denim. The jeans are created with those recycled fibers along with Tencel and Modal and finished using waterless technology. The result is a pair of jeans that takes less than 10 gallons to make from start to finish. Their facilities even use self-generated power from solar panels.
This single pair of jeans saved nearly 700 gallons of water. What started in 2009 as a small vintage shop in Los Angeles is now Reformation, a carbon-neutral company that aims to be carbon-positive by 2025. Reformation even releases quarterly sustainability reports and tracks the individual impact of every single product they put out, so that their loyal following can be in the know about exactly how they’re helping the environment.
Everlane was founded on the premise of Radical Transparency, which is something that they’ve stuck to since launching over a decade ago. In 2018, they started a dedicated effort to eliminate all virgin (new) plastic from their supply chain by 2021. As of this April, 97% of their apparel that uses polyester or nylon fibers is made from recycled fibers instead. They’re also working on using only organic cotton by 2023. All of their denim styles (like these vintage-inspired skinnies!) are made in a LEED-certified factory that reuses 98% of the water from the creation process.
8. Nudie Jeans
Nudie Jeans uses 93.8 percent organic cotton to create their stylish denim and has been doing so since 2012, so you know they’ve got it down pat. They also offer a ReBirth collection created using post-consumer recycled versions of their old styles. Nudie uses laser technology to create a worn-in look and they’re currently working to be sustainable at every point in the production process, right down to how the jeans arrive at your front door. They’ve been a proud part of the UPS Carbon Neutral Program since 2016.
Boyish’s denim styles are made using Dystar indigo, which uses 80% fewer sulfates than your usual indigo dye. They also use a mix of Organic Content Standard-certified and recycled cotton, as well as Tencel and other repurposed textiles. They’re also “bleached” using Ozone Wash, which uses triple-molecule Ozone to replace the harmful chemical entirely. So yes, you can trust that these jeans are just as sustainable as they are stylish.
10. Mud Jeans
Mud Jeans allows you to literally rent their denim—and they take back the pairs you’ve been loving after you’re done with them. By doing so, they’ve saved over 533 trillion liters of water. You simply pay a small monthly fee to lease your jeans and either return them after one year for a new pair or keep them to love forever!