Where to find sustainable jeans? What makes a pair of jeans sustainable? Today, I will give you a few tips and tricks on how to choose sustainable jeans without breaking your budget.
Why am I talking about sustainable jeans? Does it mean that your favorite Levi’s are not sustainable?
Did you know that it takes 10,000 liters of water to make a single pair of jeans? Denim is cotton, which is a thirsty crop that requires a lot of water and pesticides to grow. In order to get the right color, the jeans are dyed, washed, bleached or stone-washed. These treatments pollute water, have a negative impact on the environment and the health of the workers.
For the reasons mentioned above, I prefer to choose either a sustainable denim brand or a pre-loved pair of jeans. If you are not into second-hand clothes, and sustainable brands are above your budget, here is a tip. Check if brands within your budget offer a sustainable/eco-conscious line of clothes.
It is important to check what criteria they use to call certain items “eco-conscious.” If you are in Switzerland, look at zalando.ch, you can filter clothes by “eco-responsibility”. They carry several sustainable denim brands such as the Kings of Indigo and Nudie Jeans.
You can find sustainable brands on fashion platforms such as ASOS, Farfetch, etc. You just really need to look for them. And if you don’t know any sustainable denim brands, it may be cumbersome. But there is an app for that! Good On You is an app and a website that rates fashion brands based on several sustainable criteria that include their environmental, societal, and animal impact. I find it quite helpful.
If you live in Switzerland, you most likely know PKZ.ch. This upscale online fashion website does not have a “sustainable” filter right now. So what do I do when I found an item that I like? I google it. Most fashion brands like to show how sustainable they are. It is en mode. Mind you, it can mean everything and nothing (= greenwashing). But I still like to read it to see if the brand corresponds to what I am looking for.
For example, one of the brands on PKZ offers jeans that have Better Cotton Initiative certification. Some people criticize this certification scheme, but I think it is better than regular jeans.
That being said, if you read several of my articles, you know that I don’t like fast-fashion brands. The cheap price signifies that not everyone in the supply chain was fairly paid and treated. And you don’t if the plant where the jeans were made uses renewable energy, and purifies water used in the process. Sustainable brands, on the other hand, thrive on being transparent.
The darker the color, the better. In order to get a lighter color, the jeans are washed repeatedly, which means unnecessary use of water to make our jeans lighter. MUDJeans has launched an undyed denim collection that skips the dyeing and washing process.
I have a funny story about the way I choose the color of my jeans:
I grew up in the post-communist era. Thirty years ago, there were no fast-fashion stores in Prague. You either shopped in an outdoor market place or in second-hand stores.
The jeans in the second-hand stores came from western Europe or the USA. The quality was great, and we believed they would help us look like Brenda from the 90’s hit series Beverly Hills 90210.
The denim that you found in an outdoor market place told a different story. No one knew where it came from, and you better not ask since the markets were run by the mafia from Eastern and Southern Europe. The clothes were made of cheap materials, they had a foul smell, didn’t fit, and the color looked cheap.
Thus, when I am looking for a new pair of jeans, I stay clear of any color (and fit) that reminds me that one particular market place in Prague.
This is one of the most important points people forget to think of. Instead of focusing on the style of jeans that is currently in fashion, find a style that suits YOU. I used to wear skinny jeans for years but after pregnancy and giving birth, I find them deeply uncomfortable. They make me feel like a sausage. Currently, the most comfortable fits that I like are:
- “mom jeans” – no pun intended. They are high waisted, sit well on my hips, and leave enough space for my legs.
- “high-waisted wide-leg” jeans in indigo for they look formal enough for the office.
As mentioned earlier, denim is a cotton-based fabric which is not stretchy. Thus, if you are looking for snugly jeans, choose a pair of stretch jeans (contains 1-4% of elastane = Lycra). Although stretch jeans are more comfortable, they’re not forgiving. And if you suffer from water retention, you may not find them comfortable. They also tend to lose shape faster than rigid jeans (100% cotton). Since elastane is a synthetic material, you should use a Guppyfriend washing bag. This laundry bag prevents microplastics from being released into the environment.
If you want to care for your jeans sustainably, you should avoid washing them much. But that washing or not washing your jeans is a big topic in itself. One, which we will dive into in my next article.
MY FAVORITE SUSTAINABLE JEANS BRANDS
MUD Jeans – circular, sustainable Dutch denim brand.
Armedangels – Fairtrade, organic, Peta approved, and affordable. I would love to get a pair of their “mom jeans”.
E.L.V. Denim – bespoke, zero-waste denim brand based in the UK.