Denim comes, of course, from cotton – and cotton is often associated with unsustainable environmental practices, breaches of human rights and child labour. From the prodigious amount of water needed to grow it, to the enormous doses of pesticides, insecticides and other agrochemicals needed to keep it going, non-organic cotton has a massive environmental footprint. Much of this cotton is turned into denim.
Another problem with denim is how it is produced. Many of the vast numbers of jeans on sale around the world today are manufactured in countries with poor working conditions and little or no transparency.
However, it's now possible to find an array of organic and Fairtrade jeans in cuts, styles and shades to please even the fussiest denim aficionado. To choose ethical and sustainable denim, first and foremost you must look for Fairtrade certified cotton or denim – and make sure that not only the material but the production is Fairtrade.
Below are four of our favorite Denim brands that are leading in sustainable and ethical denim clothing.
Kuyichi - the Dutch denim brand Kuyichi offers a quality selection of both mens and women's jeans, knits and jackets to a worldwide market. Through the use of organic cotton, Kuyichi is promoting responsible and ethical trading. Kuyichi works directly with Peruvian farmers who supply their organic cotton, and even encourages them to become shareholders in the company. In addition to their organic cotton, Kuyichi uses sustainable materials like recycled cotton and polyester from discarded water bottles.
Nudie Jeans - Based in Sweden, Nudie has fully incorporated an environmentally friendly cradle-to-grave philosophy of how they produce and reuse – and even repair – their jeans. Not only do they care about the details of the products they create, they also care about how they impact the world. They report the origination and the organic contents of every pair of denim they sell.
Howies - a UK based clothing company. Their Sustainblue denim comprises a unique blend of recycled cotton and other sustainable yarns; a mix that Howies claims uses “10 – 20 times less water in production than pure cotton". Their denim is triple stitched instead of double, the waist band isn't bleached, the cotton is organic ... and that's just the start. They have a focus on quality and they are creating sustainability through every product they sell.
What we like about these 3 Denim Brands?
- The Jeans are made mostly from sustainable materials like organic cotton, recycled cotton and recycled polyester.
- They are conscious of the impact the production and sale of the product has on the environment.
- They embrace responsible and ethical trading
- They make sure that not only the material but the production is Fairtrade.