Denim is one of the most popular fashion items in the world but it's popularity makes it one of the most polluting items in fashion. We are comparing 9 sustainable mens jeans brands that are working to find solutions to the environmental impact of the denim industry.
The value of the worldwide jeans market in 2020 is over $110 billion and approximately 450 million pairs of jeans are sold in the US every year. Denim is made from cotton which requires a lot of water, chemicals and pesticides to grow. To create the range of colors that jeans are offered in, synthetic dyes are used that contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, bleach, and potassium permanganate.
These jean brands have found ways to use less water in the dying process, use recycled cotton and organically grown cotton, and offer repairs to increase the longevity of each pair.
Lee Jeans Indigood
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Less water, Less Chemicals, Less Waste, Sustainable Material
Lee has launched Indigood™ Denim, a signature denim collection that eliminates water from the denim dying process, producing a more sustainable jean. Crafted from organic cotton and finished with their foam-dyeing Indigood™ process, Indigood™ uses 99% less water and 90% fewer chemicals than traditional dyeing methods to create rich blue jeans that look good and do better. Their virtual design technology has reduced the number of physical prototypes generated by 30%. Producing fewer prototypes saves the same amount of water as 72,000 Americans use in a day and reduces the equivalent carbon emissions of nearly 1 million passenger-vehicle miles.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Recycled, Sustainable Material
COS has a whole host of organic cotton and recycled cotton jeans for men, women and children. These jeans are made from recycled AND organic cotton with recycled polyester topstitching. COS's parent brand is H+M which has a long way to go when it comes to Fair Trade practices (especially their use of cotton grown and harvested under forced labor conditions in China) but we applaud their commitment to using sustainable materials and research and development on recycling fibers through their Looop system.
Huit Denim Co
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Artisanal, Respectful and Secure Work Environment, Sustainable Material
Price: 155 GBP
The Huit Denim Company's motto is to make the best jeans you can find, not the most jeans you can make. Jeans are all they make in the small town of Cardigan, Wales once known for making 35,000 jeans a week before the factory closed in 2002. Inspired by bringing jobs back to the makers who they call the GrandMasters who are responsible for each garment from start to finish. Their goal is the use only raw organic cotton for all their jeans but they aren't quite there yet. They encourage you to not wash them for at least 6 months to both save water and increase the longevity of the fabric.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Less Chemicals, Less Water, Respectful and Secure Work Environment, Transparent Supply Chain
Human empowerment, sustainability and transparency are the goals of Outland Denim. Founded as an avenue for training and employing women women who have experienced sex trafficking, today they have 80+ employees. Their supply chain is 94% traceable, they use up to 86% less water, 57% less energy and 83% less chemicals are used in their Cambodian wash and finishing facilities. Outland Denim is based in Australia.
Kuyichi, named after the Peruvian god of the rainbow, offers no seasonal styles and no sales. All of their products are made from GOTS Certified organic cotton or recycled material and they offer transparency by listing all of their factories with their certifications on their website.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Living Wage, Made in the USA
Dearborn Denim is designed and sewn in Chicago. Established in 2016, they aspire to keep prices as low as possible while paying fair wages to American workers. They are able to achieve this by not using organic cotton but they do get points for being the only brand to manufacture in the US. Learn moore about Dearborn Denim.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Circular Economy, Recycled, Sustainable Material
Price: 119 Euros
Mud Jeans is operating on the principle of circular design. They start off by using organic and recycled cotton. You can buy or lease a pair of jeans for 12 months and then send them back to be recycled into a new pair and receive a discount on a new lease or purchase. Started in 2012 and is now a Certified B Corporation based in the Netherlands.
Nudie Jeans is a Swedish company founded in 2001 that uses 100% organic cotton denim. Their jeans are made in Tunisia and they offer transparency with their supply chain. If you can't access one of their repair shops or mobile repair stations, they will send you a free repair kit. They are also trying to ramp up collection of used jeans so they can be recycled.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Fair Trade, Less Chemicals, Less Water
Jeans West is an Australian brand that makes men's and women's jeans. Their prices are lower because they don't use organic cotton but a part of their jeans collection is called the Better Denim Low H20 which uses innovative techniques and processes that saves water and uses fewer chemicals. The brand received a B+ on the Ethical Fashion Report for their commitment to Fair Trade, ethical sourcing, third party audits for their factories, and commitment to animal welfare.
Find out about the Jeans Redesign Project here.