Circular Design: The Jeans Redesign Project

Circular Design: The Jeans Redesign Project

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation 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 jeans? Because they 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).


The Joaquin in Golden Child

CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Less Water, Recycled, Sustainable Material

The Joaquin by Boyish Jeans includes organic and recycled cotton, reducing its carbon footprint and reducing water usage.

C & A

Recycled Denim Dungarees


These denim overalls by C & A are made with recycled cotton.


Freja Jumpsuit

CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Energy Efficient Use, Less Chemicals, Less Water

The Freja Jumpsuit by DL1961 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.


Sasha High Rise Flare

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

Short Lyocell-blend Dress

CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Less Chemicals, Less Water, Recycled, Sustainable Material

Lee x H+M made this super soft denim with a LENZING™ ECOVERO™ viscose and Tencellyocell 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.


High Waisted Ripped Hem Cropped Skinny Jeans

CONSCIOUS CREDOS: Recycled, Supply Chain Transparency, Sustainable Material

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.


High Rise Wide Leg

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.


Feminine Tapered Fit Mercury Blue Jeans

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.


Rowe Split Jeans

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.




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