The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has created a challenge for brands to incorporate circularity into their design process. The Jeans Redesign Project calls on them to rethink their traditionally linear- take, make, waste approach and instead create jeans that are long lasting, eco-friendly, socially responsible AND recyclable. It’s a tall order for even the biggest jeans brands but currently 68 companies, big and small, have signed on.
Why just jeans? Because jeans are one of the most universally consumed and polluting fashion items it makes them the perfect starting point. Cotton, their primary ingredient, requires a tremendous amount of water and pesticides to grow and toxic chemicals are used in their dying and treatment processes. With a typical pair, the zippers and rivets are non-removable so only the leg portion can be recycled. The Redesign Project aims to change that so 100% of the jeans can be recycled. The brands who have accepted the challenge are coming up with ways to make un-screwable rivets, recycle the dye water, adopt chemical free treatment techniques, remove back patches and interior tags and print the garment information directly on the jeans.
Some of the biggest brands have signed on including Gap, Guess, Lee, Wrangler, Banana Republic, Reformation, Tommy Hilfiger. They are scheduled to launch May of 2021 but several have products that are already available. Here are some of our recommendations.
BAM Bamboo Clothing
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Less Water, Less Chemicals, Sustainable Material
BAM Bamboo Clothing has created these planet-friendly jeans out of organic cotton and bamboo. The button unscrews to make them easier to recycle (so screw in tightly before washing). If you’re between sizes, go down a size. They come in two leg lengths: Regular and Long.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Less Water, Recycled, Sustainable Material
The Joaquin by Boyish Jeans can be worn as a jacket or a dress and is a good staple in your closet for any season. This up-cycled piece includes organic and recycled cotton, reducing its carbon footprint and reducing water usage.
C & A
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Recycled
Price: 29.99 Euros
These denim overalls by C & A are made with recycled cotton. They run small so it is recommended to go up one size.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Energy Efficient Use, Less Chemicals, Less Water
The Freja Jumpsuit by DL1961 is a utility-inspired jumpsuit with a straight leg, voluminous sleeves, faux front pockets and center front button opening. It is made with certified cotton and clean dyes. Their jeans require less water because they recycle and treat 98% of the water used to make them and everything is made in house so they require less energy and are responsible for fewer carbon emissions.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Energy Efficient Use, Less Chemicals, Less Water, Sustainable Material
This soft, comfort stretch denim by ética is crafted entirely from organic cotton and recycled elastane. Their low impact wash process uses 90% less water, 63% less chemicals and 70% less energy. Their hangtags, labels and packaging are made entirely from recycled and biodegradable materials.
Lee x H+M
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Less Chemicals, Less Water, Recycled, Sustainable Material
Lee x H+M made this super soft denim with a LENZING™ ECOVERO™ viscose and Tencel™ lyocell blend. The thread and the logo are made from recycled polyester and the denim is manufactured without environmentally harmful chemicals in an energy-saving, water-efficient process.
Every part of this garment by nu-in is circular. That means that garment is designed and produced with intention to be further easily recycled and not go to waste.When this garment comes to the end of its first life-cycle, it can be easily made into something else, thus keeping it within a circular economy and preventing it to go to a landfill.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Less Chemicals, Reversing Climate Change, Sustainable Material
Triarchy has made these sleek jeans from organic cotton combined with ozone washing and nano bubbles to ensure that no one and no part of the environment is harmed in the process. No dyes, no washes, no chemicals and no toxins were used. Just natural cotton, that’s it.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Efficient Energy Use, Recycled, Sustainable Material
With unspun you can design your own custom made jeans down to the style, fabric, thread color, rise height and hem length. Download their app and take a 30 second body scan with your phone and you get your own digital avatar. To ensure recyclability they have a zip fly with removable button closure and are made with 78% better cotton initiative cotton, 21% recycled polyester and 1% lycra. The thread and zipper tape is made with recycled polyester. There is a 3-4 week lead time but their customized process reduces waste and overproduction.
CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Recycled, Sustainable Material
WEEKDAY makes these Rowe Split Jeans with organic and recycled cotton. Although only located in Europe, they offer in store recycling.
Check out sustainable men’s jeans here.