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We bet denim works pretty hard for your wardrobe. But when it comes to the planet, they could work a lot harder. It’s estimated that 10,000 litres of water are required to make the cotton in your standard pair of jeans. But before we scare you into wearing nothing but suit trousers and sweatpants, know that denim purveyors are rewriting the rulebook – or better yet, throwing it out entirely.
More and more brands today are dedicating themselves to making their denim sustainable, so you can wear your jeans the way they’re meant to be worn: without a hint of guilt. We spoke to brand expert Grace Baker and menswear stylist Toby Standing to learn about three denim brands putting the planet first and your wardrobe a very close second. Talk about good jeans.
“These guys are the big hitters,” Toby says. If you’re looking for a brand that’s mega transparent about their manufacturing and production, you’ve found one. The main focus for these guys is raw, untreated fabrics and utilising them to create jeans (which come in every style and wash imaginable) that will last for years to come. And, with a “wear, tear, repair” mindset, you’re guaranteed to have a pair that live up to these claims. Plus, Nudie Jeans also works with the Fair Wear Foundation to ensure safe and ethical working conditions across the whole line of production. In other words, they’re doing no wrong.
Having recently made some big strides in their approach to sustainability, M&S are easily one of the most accessible ways to buy more eco-friendly denim – you can even do it while picking up your food shop. They’re pledging to use 100% sustainably sourced cotton and using less water intensive processes to wash and dye their jeans. Plus, they’re switching standard indigo dyes to cleaner alternatives requiring less water and chemicals to produce – nearly 50% of their latest spring summer range was made with this lower impact dye. There’s truly a fit to suit everyone and at extremely reasonable price points, you can’t go wrong. Toby says, “it’s always nice to see the big players on the high street making the right moves.”
Speaking of big players, it’s likely Levi’s are one of the first brands that come to mind when you think of denim, and for good reason, they’re as iconic as they come. Better yet, the originators of denim jeans have in fact been making a lot of noise recently – their recent campaign ad, “Buy Better Wear Longer” spotlights their plans to tackle their own practices by reducing their gas emissions by 90% in the next three years as well as improving ethical practices around where their products are manufactured, addressing issues around the health, financial security, and gender equality of their workers.
Words: Yasmine Kennedy
Styling: Toby Standing and Grace Baker