There are more eco friendly denim brands now than ever! Here’s our list of the very best
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Eco friendly denim brands may be a newish thing in the world of fashion. But the blue jean certainly isn’t!
Here’s a bit of fashion history for you.
The History Of Denim
Did you know that American favourite, the blue jean, actually has its roots deeply embedded in Europe? Yep, that’s right: Europeans invented the jean, make no mistake. Even the words we use to describe blue jeans are just corruptions of European words: denim was traditionally coloured in a blue shade with indigo dye, on sturdy Serge de Nimes twill fabric, or “de-Nimes” for short (of course, that’s ‘denim’ now to me and you). As for “jeans,” this word evolved based on a cotton/linen blend fabric produced in Genoa as far back as the 16th century – which is called jeanes in French.
Jeans made their way over to the USA with mass immigration from Europe’s working class. This traditional Euro-workwear was happily adopted in the ‘new country’.
However, since that time, the rise of the ethical fashion movement has pointed out how harmful denim can be for the environment.
Why Eco Friendly Denim Matters
It’s important to buy eco friendly denim for many reasons.
First up is the chemical leakage from dyes. Whilst natural indigo used to be the dye of choice, today, denim colourants include chemical compounds like mercury, cadmium and lead.
These toxins are washed into our waterways. Most of us will never see the damage they do, since jeans are often made in developing nations. But the results of denim dyeing include:
- levels of heavy metals in water that are well over the safety limit
- garment workers suffering from silicosis and lung cancer from those dyes
- tens of thousands of dead fish floating in the water, as a result of these pollutants
Additionally, the cotton most denim brands use not only soak up millions of gallons of water, but they’re also often genetically modified (GMO) varieties. GMO crops take up more pesticides, harm wildlife and kill bees.
Luckily, consumers are demanding change. And as a result, conscious denim brands are increasingly using:
- organic cotton
- natural dyes
- alternative materials, like TENCEL
- deadstock fabric
and other means of making their products more sustainable.
Here are a few eco friendly denim brands that infuse a lot of sass and style into everything from jeans and denim tops to handbags.
18 Super Chic Sustainable Denim Brands
1. Joe’s Jeans
Joe’s Jeans put the rock’n’roll back into denim. The sustainable jeans brand is all about attitude and sass, except when it comes to the environment, that is. In which case, Joe’s gets all responsible and uses production methods that consume way less water and energy than most jeans producers use.
Plus Joe’s avoids all those nasty, toxic dyes that pollute water, harm workers and kill fish. What’s not to love?
Price: From around $150
2. AG Jeans
The ‘AG’ must stand for ‘awesomely gorgeous’ because this eco friendly denim brands designs are always incredibly covetable! That’s thanks to unique details, bang-on-trend shades, flattering cuts and soft, pliable materials.
The ethical jeans label produces all of its sustainable cotton denim by using Ozone Technology. This is a process that significantly reduces water consumption, the use of chemicals, and energy.
AG Jeans is also devoted to making a positive change by partnering with Water, a charity dedicated to bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.
Price: From around $190
3. G-Star Raw
G-Star fully understands the need to reduce the use of conventional, water-guzzling, DDT dependent cotton. So, in addition to using Bionic Yarn in their G-Star Raw line, their RAW sustainable program uses organic cotton, with its reduced levels of fertilisers and pesticides, as a base for a range of new products that contribute towards a more sustainable future without compromising for one single second on quality, comfort or style.
Price: From around $99
This super sexy brand is kind of the ‘Chanel of jeans’ – it really is top of the range!
But unlike Chanel, Kuyichi actually cares about the environment and uses recycled cotton and more alternative materials such as hemp and Tencel to makes its cool creations for both men and women.
Price: From $140
5. Nudie Jeans
Of all the eco friendly denim brands, Nudie may well be the most conscious of the planet. Check this out – they:
- promote ‘slow fashion,’ by repairing your jeans free of charge so they can be used over and over again
- produce their ranges with mainly organic cotton
- support the Fair Wear Foundation, an organisation dedicated improving the working conditions in the textile industry
- they even send old, frayed, unrepairable denim to be made into other objects!
We really respect this brand!
Price: From $160
6. MUD Jeans
Holland based MUD Jeans use only eco-certified cotton to make their denim clothing. Of course, no children or sweatshop workers are involved in any part of their production process. In fact, they insist on paying fair prices right down to the cotton farmers! But that’s not all.
The brand encourages people to lease their jeans instead of buying them. How amazing is that? This way ‘jeans-sharing’ can benefit multiple users. If only more brands did that! It would be like having an eternally new wardrobe, but with a way lower ecological footprint.
Price: From around $200 to buy, much less to lease
RE/DONE creates unique, upcycled jeans styles from vintage Levi’s and other brands. Frayed pockets, faded colouring, torn knees, and softer denim define this brand.
These pre-loved jeans have circulated owners and changed hands over the past few decades, transforming them and giving them a life of their own. Like a fine wine, RE/DONE jeans only get better with age! Plus, no two pairs are exactly alike.
Price: From $250
8. Nobody Jeans
This Aussie brand is sexy – and it knows it! Its jeans are made for the woman who’s completely unabashed about showing what she’s got in a pair of curve-hugging trousers. She may seem brazen, but the Nobody woman also has a heart, and buys the brand for its ethics.
Nobody Denim works closely with the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) to maintain an ethical workplace and is accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia. That means you can be confident that they have taken steps to ensure everyone involved in making their jeans gets a fair wage and great place to work.
Price: From around $200
The much-loved ethical denim brand spends months finding the best factories. Once discovered, Everlane gives them a compliance audit to evaluate factors like fair wages, reasonable hours, and environmental care. The aim for a score of 90 or above for every factory.
But that’s not all! Their Saitex denim factory uses a unique closed system that recycles 98% of all water used. Apparently, when it comes out the other side, it’s so clean you can drink it. Great news!
Price: From around $99
10. Warp + Weft
Warp + Weft has a lot going for it! The brand:
- manufacturers all of its products in their family owned, eco-friendly factory
- has developed a proprietary cotton wrapping technique that’s completely unique, giving customers the most flattering and comfortable fit – no matter what your size
- integrated sustainable practices including solar panel energy and a cutting-edge water filtration
- their water purification system recycles 98% of water used in production
And that’s not all! The brand specialises in plus sized fashion, and is one of the most affordable eco friendly denim brands around.
Price: From $88
11. Stella McCartney
Ok, obviously she’s not only about the denim. But when she does jeans…oh my! She does it better than just about anyone. Apparently, many of her collections were inspired by her mom Linda’s style back in the 1970’s. And can I just ask: who isn’t dying to own the denim version of the Falabella? It’s a collector’s item in the making!
Whether they’re cropped at the ankle, tie dyed, flared, or embellished with stars or her logo, all of Stella’s jeans are made of 98% organic cotton denim.
Price: From $750 up
12. Frank and Oak
This is one of the most popular eco friendly denim brands in Canada. Frank and Oak have recently introduced denim made with sustainable hydro-less technology, and organic Good Cotton.
Their jeans also boast a Dynamic Stretch, making them comfy for all body types and sizes. No matter whether you like your jeans skinny, cropped or flared, there’s definitely a pair that’s right for you1
Along with their perfectly designed swimsuits, tops and dresses, this popular eco-chic brand is now offering a wide variety of jeans to choose from.
Of course, each item is held up to high sustainability criteria. Reformation jeans are all made from either 100% recycled materials, deadstock fabrics or sustainably sourced fabrics. What’s more, you’ll save 1,460 gallons of water when you buy a pair of their jeans compared to other labels’, and no toxic dyes are used. We particularly love the style with the star on the butt!
Price: $160 and up
Yes, believe it or not, this classic denim brand has gone eco, thanks to their Indigood collection. It uses 28-30% recycled cotton, which we love. But they also boast a foam dyeing technology that removes the need for water vats and chemical baths from the denim dyeing process. The result is a waterless dyeing method which eliminates wastewater. It also reduces both energy consumption and overall waste by more than 60% when compared to traditional dyeing methods.
Curious to know more about Wrangler’s move into eco-denim? You can read their story here.
Price: Around $150
Of all the eco friendly denim brands, this is probably the oldest. But according to Good On You, the brand has made strong, new commitments to sustainable denim production. These include significantly reducing their water use. In fact, by the end of 2020, they made 80 percent of their products using a Water<Less™ technique.
All good moves, right?
Price: From $188
Do you love the look of denim but find it a bit restrictive to wear? Well, imagine a pair of jeans so comfy, you could do yoga in them. Yep, for real: Second Denim actually makes ‘yoga’ jeans! The Montreal-based brand makes denim that “fits like a second skin”. To create these remarkably flexible jeans, only certified organic cotton and Lycra is used.
Second Denim also employs an environmentally-friendly washing technique that cuts their water use by 50%. Plus, the brand only uses non-toxic, chemical-free dyes to create its range of rinses and colours.
And as if that weren’t enough, Second Denim also re-uses its denim rinses (many manufacturers throw it out after one use) and uses recycled leather, buttons and rivets.
Price: From around $119
Sezane delivers French-girl chic that lends eco friendly denim elegance at any occasion. The brand has upped its sustainable credentials with the launch of its new collection Denim (r)Evolution. This collection uses 100% GOTS certified organic cotton, recycled cotton, and an eco-friendly distressing processes.
The result? A significant reduction in water and chemical use.
Price: From $110
18. Boyish Jeans
Of all the eco friendly denim brands, Boyish Jeans boasts some of the sexiest styles, and boasts some seriously sustainable credentials.
For example, they use less harmful chemicals during the dyeing process, and use around 1/3 of the water typically needed to produce a pair of jeans. In addition, they work exclusively with recycled fabrics and materials for everything they put out.
Do you know of any other eco friendly denim brands that we didn’t mention? We’d love to hear from you in the comments, below!