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Want to incorporate sustainable denim into your wardrobe but don’t know where to look? These are the sustainable denim brands that make jeans that not only are on-trend, but are better for you and the planet.
Transitioning to a more sustainable wardrobe can be confusing. How do you even know what is sustainable?
All the greenwashing these days makes these choices even trickier.
When I became interested in more sustainable clothing, I didn’t even know what material denim is made from (Spoiler alert: it’s cotton. More on that later.)
You’ve picked a great place to start because denim is a wardrobe staple that can be easily upgraded by buying the right brands who are committed to sustainable practices.
Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up all our favorite sustainable denim brands that make trendy and adorable jeans.
This post is all about sustainable denim brands that make jeans you’ll actually want to wear.
What is Sustainable Denim?
Before we dive into our recommendations, let’s talk about how we define sustainable denim.
Denim is made with cotton, which unfortunately is not the most sustainable raw material to begin with.
Sustainable Denim Uses Less Water
Cotton takes a lot of water to grow, yet is often grown in hot and dry areas of the world where water is a limited resource.
We prioritize denim brands that acknowledge this reality and make efforts to reduce their water consumption in the manufacturing process.
Sustainable Denim Avoids Pesticide Use
Cotton is often also grown as a GMO crop and sprayed with harmful pesticides.
According to CottonUP, an organization working to make the cotton business more sustainable, cotton occupies 2.5% of the world’s arable land yet is subjected 10% of all pesticide and chemical fertilizer use.
The excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers is a health hazard to workers and the communities that grow cotton.
For these reasons, sustainable denim is also ideally made with organic cotton and fair-trade certified.
Best Sustainable Jeans
Traditional denim manufacturing wastes thousands of gallons of water, but Everlane’s factory has found a way to recycle 98% of their water usage in a super-efficient closed water system. They also use the heat naturally created by the manufacturing process to air dry the jeans after processing. So cool!
Besides being sustainable, their jeans are super cute and offered in classic cuts like our favorite The ’90s Cheeky Jean.
FRAME has considered sustainability down to the pocket lining of the jeans in their sustainable denim collection, which are made from 30% recycled polyester. They also employ eco-friendly wash techniques like using high-efficiency lasers in lieu of water.
Check out their sustainable Palazzo jeans.
As the brand name suggests, Organic Basics uses 100% organic cotton to make their sustainable denim. They even take it a step further with their Circular Denim line, which doesn’t use any synthetic materials at all, ensuring the jeans can be fully recycled when it is time.
We love the industrial look of their Circular Denim 5 Pocket jeans in Rinsed.
Boyish Jeans has been committed to sustainability from the get-go, and are really innovators in the sustainable denim space. They use a variety of sustainable fabrics, from more traditional organic cotton to Tencel Lyocell, which is made from the woodpul from eucalyptus trees (which uses significantly less land and water than cotton!)
Boyish uses natural plant dyes to make their more colorful offerings, including their lavender denim. Swoon.
With their new FibreTrace denim line, Reformation allows you to see the exact journey your jeans, from the farm, to the factory, and finally to your door. Spoiler alert: these jeans were grown at the world’s first “carbon positive farm” called Good Earth in Australia. This farm uses renewable energy and adheres to growing practices that prioritize soil health.
Bring back the ’70s with the Alyssa Patch Pocket High Rise Wide Leg Jeans.
Run by two sisters out of their studio in Portland, OR, North of West offers colorful designs in organic and deadstock fabrics. They also run a small production site in LA where each garment is lovingly made by hand.
Swedish denim company Nudie Jeans is committed to sustainability and transparency at every step of their manufacturing process and the products’ lifecycle. This is exemplified in their ‘repair shops’ situated around the world, where Nudie customers can brings their jeans in for repair. If there is no repair shop near you, they will send you a repair kit free of charge.
Newer to the sustainability game, 7 For All Mankind has some loftier goals, including the promise that 80% of their products will have sustainable elements by 2023. They are well on their way. Check out their sustainable denim line, which offers recycled and organic, cotton, and other sustainable materials.
Try their original bootcut jeans, now made with organic cotton.
Garage Clothing offers super trendy styles in organic fibers and eco-friendly trims (the materials used to make pocket liners, etc.) The company is also committed to reducing energy and resources use during the manufacturing process.
We love a sustainable wide-leg ripped jean moment.
G-Star demin uses Cradle to Cradle Certified™ fabrics, which are made responsibly and completely recyclable. In addition, their manufacturing process doesn’t waste any water and runs on 100% renewable energy.
G-Star’s 100% organic cotton C-Staq 3D Boyfriend Cropped Jeans offer a relaxed fit.
DUER acknowledges that a truly sustainable wardrobe means buying fewer things. They say it best on their website, “In terms of our collective impact on the planet, the single most important thing we can do is purchase a few well-made pieces that we wear consistently.” That’s why DUER creates great quality clothing that is meant to last.
It doesn’t hurt that their jeans are not only durable, but adorable. Check out their performance denim jumpsuit.
Founded in 2008, DL1961 has been on the cutting edge of fabric technologies ever since. They have more recently focused on sustainable technologies that turn old denim and post-consumer waste into recycled fabrics. All of their cotton is either certified organic or recycled.
We love the raw hem of the Mara Straight High Rise Instasculpt Ankle Jean.
Having dubbed themselves the ‘world’s cleanest vertically integrated denim company,’ Warp + Weft have the stats to prove it. Th family-run company have saved 572,400,000 gallons of water compared to traditional denim making practices during the three decades they’ve been in business.
We love the clean lines of the Warp + Weft Ase High Rise Straight Jeans.