I’ve been searching high and low for amazing fitting, comfortable ethically made sustainable denim for years and years! It’s harder than you’d think to find the holy grail of perfect fit, comfort, and a conscious design and manufacturing process.
As I wrote in my article on clothing waste, Synthetic fabrics are made from a cocktail of chemicals + plastic and include textiles such as acrylic, nylon, polyester, and spandex. Recent research shows that synthetic fabrics have some down right scary aftermath, specifically when they’re washed. Once a synthetic item is placed in the washing machine, it releases tiny plastic bits — called microfibers — that flow down our drains, through water treatment plants, and out into our rivers, lakes and oceans by the billions. Seriously, it is already estimated that there are 1.4 million trillion of these tiny fibers in our ocean.
But even good old cotton has a dramatic environmental impact. Cotton is a crop that needs a lot of water to survive. Most insecticides used – the world over – are used on cotton plants. Insecticides are not only lousy for our environment, they’re terribly dangerous for us. Workers in the biggest denim factories in the world report lesions, rashes, and infertility. Why mess around with conventional denim when clean denim exists? Creating traditional denim in itself is a tremendous energy wasting process. with numerous cycles of dyeing, softening, fading, bleaching, and texturizing for the final outcome.
There is absolutely no reason to support companies participating in these unethical practices when kind, conscious brands exist.
Of course, the kindest way to wear denim is to buy used/ vintage, fix and extend the life of your old denim, and by buying well-made, conscious brands when you do buy them new.
The brands I’ve shared with you below all have fully sustainable missions, and great style. I’ve personally worn each one of these brands, and as I’m the comfy connoisseur and have gone through testing more eco jeans than I care to remember, I feel wholly qualified to share my denim picks with you.
Boyish Jeans are made in LA using sustainable fabrics and ethical factories. They use fewer chemicals in their dyeing process and are environmentally friendly as well as cruelty-free. They even use 1/3 of the normal water amount that is typically used to make denim! My favorite part about them (besides the way the jeans fit!) is that they use a ton of deadstock and repurposed fabrics.
Etica denim Uses Clean Industry Practices (certificate from PROFEPA and the Mexican government’s national environmental audit program, PNAA.) They even have an impressive Social Responsibility certificate from the Mexican Center for Philanthropy and the Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility. Their mills have earned additional certifications including OEKO-TEX Standard 100, Better Cotton Initiative™, Cradle to Cradle™ and GOTS.
And as if that wasn’t enough, they use upcycled, deadstock fabrics! Etica Denim prides itself on using 90 percent less water usage than the industry standard, 63 percent less energy, and 70 percent fewer chemicals.
They even have biodegradable hang tags and labels. To top it off, this all-star eco company went plastic-free last year.
My favorites from Etica:
Here’s me in some Etica, similar to the style above.
Here’s me in a skinny Etica jean, similar to the style above.
I haven’t tried these mid-rise, relaxed-skinny jeans from Outland yet, but they look super cute:
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