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It’s hard to beat a good pair of jeans.
But did you know that denim production isn’t a sustainable or eco-friendly process?
Anywhere between 1500-7000 liters of water is used to create a single pair of jeans, and there is a range of toxic dyes and chemicals involved which can have a negative environmental impact.
Luckily, there are some sustainable denim brands making huge progress. Today, finding a great pair of sustainable jeans isn’t hard thanks to these brands pushing the denim industry forward.
From recycled and certified organic cotton, to water reduction programs, to re-using and upcycling old jeans, you’ll be pleased to hear all of the brands here are making their jeans with innovative sustainable processes.
The best part?
You never need to compromise on style.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the brands.
Looking for vegan jeans without the leather patch? We’ve got a guide for that here ⮕.
What Is Sustainable Denim?
When we talk about sustainable denim, we’re referring tosustainable jeans, shorts, or denim jackets that are made using sustainable production processes and materials that aim to minimize the environmental impact of the denim itself.
Denim is notoriously bad for the environment, with high water usage and harmful dyes being used throughout the production stage. Luckily, brands are using innovative technology to help them create more sustainable denim by reducing water usage and energy consumption and limiting or excluding harmful chemicals in the production process.
Brands are using a combination of the following processes to reduce both the carbon and water footprint of denim:
These processes aim to minimize the environmental impact of denim production and reduce the usage of finite resources such as water.
Our Favorite Sustainable Denim Brands
1. Warp + Weft
Sustainability: World’s cleanest vertically integrated denim company.
Warp + Weft is the world’s cleanest vertically integrated denim company. That’s a big claim.
However, since Warp + Weft was founded they’ve saved 572,400,000 gallons of H20. They recycle 98% of the water they use and their eco-friendly factory incorporates a range of processes to improve their sustainability.
For example, their Dry Ozone technology is an eco-friendly alternative to chemical bleach. Their factories are fully compliant with International Social and Environmental & Quality Standards, and pay fair wages to their employees.
Another key benefit is that they control their whole production process, and can sell their sustainable denim at a fair price without major markups.
Sustainability: Sustainable cotton, recycling programs.
It’s hard to go wrong with a pair of Levi’s. Their jeans are sturdy, durable and will last you years if you treat them well.
Despite their size, Levi’s aren’t cutting corners on sustainability (like is often the norm with established brands). They’re part of the Better Cotton Initiative, and currently, over 20% of their cotton qualifies as Better Cotton. By 2020, their goal is to source 100% of their cotton from sustainable sources.
Levi’s have recycling and repurposing programs, so old denim can be given new life.
As you would expect, you’ll find almost any type of cut from Levi’s, so there’s something for everyone.
Sustainability: Upcycled vintage denim
If you love upcycling, Re/Done is for you.
They take used and vintage jeans, then re-builds them into more modern, unique pairs of jeans.
Every single item is made using old items, so each product is one-of-a-kind and you’ll be sure to stand out.
Sustainability: Fair Trade Certified™ clothing, sustainable materials, Responsible Down Standard, Bluesign®systems to remove harmful chemicals from the production process.
Founded in 1992 in Carlsbad, California, prAna creates Fair Trade Certified clothing from sustainable materials. Whether you’re going for a hike, attending a yoga class, or simply want to feel comfortable and look good, then prAna is for you.
They make their denim out of organic cotton and have a range of options for women and men.
If you love the great outdoors, we’re sure you’ll love prAna.
Sustainability: Fair wages, provide economic opportunities for women in vulnerable areas.
ABLE is a sustainable brand that creates a range of clothing and accessories, including denim.
As well as using environmentally friendly process, ABLE are doing their part to end generational poverty. Their employees (who are majority women) are located in communities that ABLE want to positively impact and they do it by creating jobs and ending cycles of poverty.
Their denim is hand made in Mexico and you’ll love how soft it is.
Sustainability:Certified B Corp. Sustainable employment and training opportunities to women who have experienced exploitation. Water consumption and energy reducing processes.
Apart from making great denim, this Australian sustainable denim brand shot to fame after Meghan Markle wore a pair on her royal tour in Australia. They have lines for both men and women.
They’re a B Corp, and help provide employment and training opportunities to women who have been exploited in any way. They also incorporate water and energy reduction processes to ensure that you can feel good about wearing your new pair of jeans from them.
7. Nudie Jeans
Sustainability: Upcycling, members of Fair Wear Foundation, GOTS Certified, free repairs.
Nudie Jeans is a leading denim company and have a massive focus on being sustainable.
Since Day 1 they’ve stuck to traditions and create jeans that are meant to be worn for as long as possible. All of the cotton used in their jeans is either organic (Nudie are GOTS Certified), fairtrade or recycled, and 98.6% of their materials in all of their products are sustainable.
In 2018 they swapped the leather back patch to one made from completely vegan materials.
Their goal is to have a completely carbon-neutral supply chain by 2025.
Another key benefit of buying a pair of Nudie Jeans is that the brand offers free repairs for life. That’s right. If your jeans get to the end of their life, Nudie will fix them for you, for free (or you can order a repair kit and fix them yourself).
8. Boyish Jeans
Sustainability: Water and denim recycling, reduced indigo, factory sustainability audits.
Boyish Jeans is a women’s ethical denim company creating vintage silhouettes updated with modern takes.
The brand uses ethical practices including less harmful chemicals in the dyeing process and uses a third of the amount of water typically needed in the denim production process.
Their shipping boxes, tags, and other hardware are all sourced from sustainable sources and denim cuttings are turned into new products.
Boyish’s factories are all regularly audited to ensure they meet high standards for social responsibility and sustainable processes.
Sustainability: Sustainable and organic materials, water recycling processes.
Like some other brands on this list, they have water recycling systems that mean they use 8 gallons of water, rather than 1500 liters of water per pair of jeans they create, and their factory is partly solar-powered.
They make sustainable denim for women, men, and children, and ship all over the world.
10. Monkee Genes
Sustainability: GOTS certified factories.
Monkee Genes are a sustainable fashion and denim brand from the UK. As well as making stylish jeans, they also produce a range of other clothing.
All of Monkee Genes’ factories are GOTS certified, meaning they can track their materials through the entire supply chain to ensure they meet sustainable standards.
11. MUD Jeans
Sustainability: Closed-loop system, vegan materials, recycling program, denim lease program.
Mud Jeans is a sustainable denim company from the Netherlands.
The brand already meets the requirements to be part of the circlular economy but they’re not slowing down.
MUD is also one of the pioneers of clothes leasing. Rather than purchasing a pair of jeans, you can lease them for a year, at €7.50/month (plus a €29 member fee). Once your lease is up, you can return your used jeans and they’ll recycle the material into a new pair. This shift from ownership to leasing is more sustainable and ensures materials are re-used and recycled, rather than simply sent to landfill.
MUD makes a range of styles for women and men.
Wrapping Up – Best Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Jeans Brands
There’s no excuse not to choose a sustainable pair of jeans as your next pair.
These companies are all making huge strides when it comes to sustainability in their denim production, and you’ll love how much better for the planet they are.
If you’re looking for denim shorts, check out out top recommendations here.
Know a brand that needs to be mentioned in this list?
Let us know in the comments below!