By Jasmine Hassal
It’s been linked to slavery, intensive water use and pesticides. The colours used to dye it are often toxic, poisoning rivers in which it is washed and causing health problems for workers. But with these problems increasingly coming to consumers’ attention, today eco-conscious brands are changing how denim is produced.
From the use of Ozone Technology, which allows for the cleaning up of excess dye to new processes that use less water, chemicals, and energy, innovative brands such as these 5 eco friendly denim brands below clearly demonstrate that modern jeans can be as stylish as they are sustainable.
Too many people think that ethical fashion is an oxymoron – slap “vegan” onto your denim label, and consumers think your jeans will be as attractive as a bowl of tofu.
But Sonas Denim is one undeniably chic line of jeans that’s not only environmentally friendly, it’s kind to animals, too.
All their designs are cruelty-free – no feathers, no leather, no silk, no wool, no animal products of any kind – and 10% of net profits are used to build an animal sanctuary. Founded by Dublin native Gerry Kelly and his wife Christine Garcia, an animal rights lawyer who has saved more than 100 dogs from death row, Sonas Denim really does combine a love of style with a love for animals and the planet.
This contemporary lifestyle brand uses a vertically integrated manufacturing process that unites design skills with manufacturing innovation to bring stylish clothing that can be worn every day and lasts for years. The label produces all of its denim by using Ozone Technology, a process that significantly reduces water consumption, the use of chemicals, and energy.
Other than ethically producing fine items of clothing using eco-conscious fibers, AG Jeans’ values demand that the they are socially active too: the brand is 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. This was an especially pertinent choice on the brand’s part, given that cotton–used to make denim– is one of the most water-intensive crops.
“No blood, no sweat, no tears.” That’s exactly how Monkee Genes wants their denim to be made–so much so, that the brand has transformed itself from a for-profit company to a trading charity called Stop taking the Pennies. The charity has three clear objectives: to show how ethical jeans can be delivered to the High Street, to work only with manufacturers who can both pay a working wage and respect; and providing acceptable health and safety standards.
50 cents for every pair of Monkee Genes manufactured in Bangladesh will be donated to a foundation which has already achieved building two schools for over 2,000 disadvantaged children in Bangladesh. All net profits will go into an awareness campaign working with schools, colleges and universities in the western world.
“I have a connection with the ocean. It yields so much life, including our own. So we owe it.” So says the amazing Pharrell Williams, one of the founders of Bionic Yarn, the threads made from recycled ocean plastics that G Star Raw are now using to produce its cutting edge G-Star Raw fashion range.
In the current climate (change?), G-Star fully understands the need to reduce the use of conventional, water-guzzling, pesticide-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 fertilizers and pesticides, as a base for a range of new products that contribute towards a more sustainable future without compromising on quality, comfort or design.
The Peruvian god of the rainbow who brought colour into society was called Kuyichi. Now that word means a lot more, being the name of a unisex fashion conscious brand that started its journey in 2001 to combat the immense negative impacts that fashion can have on the environment. Kuyichi has grown from strength to strength ever since.
As the first brand to introduce socially-responsible denim to the fashion market, Kuyichi set the standards of eco-friendly fashion by creating sustainable denim from recycled cotton, plastic bottles, and more alternative materials such as hemp and tencel.
Their SS15 collection boasts an effortlessly cool aesthetic as well as the sustainable concept of vintage workwear. Clean basics account for much of this collection, creating a range of sustainable classics that would be timeless staples in anyone’s wardrobe. Army chic is one of the main trends explored within the womenswear range: camouflage green is highly featured trend in the SS15 range with soft wash khaki shades and raw edges suiting the organic feel of the brand well, appearing in garments for both genders.
Capsule pieces in the collection include navy blue bomber jackets for men and women made from recycled PET polyester, and pure premium clean wash jeans whilst the overall colour pallet features classic shades of washed indigo, off- white, khaki green, dull red and deep navy blue.
6. Nudie Jeans
Whether they’re the skinnies with a hole in the knee you wore for years to school, the high waisted, robin’s egg blue number that makes you feel like one of Charlie’s Angels or the baggy pair you stole from your boyfriend, Nudie believes your jeans are like a good friend and should be in your life for years and years. So, rather than tossing them out when they get a bit worn and tired, the brand will repair your jeans free of charge so you can stay together a bit longer.
Besides promoting ‘slow fashion’ in this way, Nudie is a brand with a serious eco-conscience: it produces its range with organic cotton and supports the Fair Wear Foundation, an organisation dedicated improving the working conditions in the textile industry.
Mud Jeans, based in Holland, is very proud of creating what they deem to be “an honest product”: they use only eco-certified cotton to make their denim clothing, and of course, no children or sweatshop workers were involved in any part of their production process. In fact, they insist on paying fair prices right down to the cotton farmer!
But that’s not all: the brand encourages people to lease their jeans instead of buying them: that way, one pair of jeans can benefit multiple users. If you’d really rather buy your own pair of new jeans, just bring in your old denim for recycling, and you’ll be rewarded with a discount on a new pair.