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Aug 22 2019 by

Manufacturing denim is one of the fashion industry’s biggest sources of pollution. The good news: Brands are incorporating eco-friendly practices into their denim production, with very chic results.

According to research from Consumer Reports, the average woman owns seven pairs of jeans – and usually only wears four of them. While adding a new pair of mom jeans to your collection may be fun, it’s no secret that denim is bad for the environment.

The entire process – from the amount of water used, to the dyeing and finishing – is harmful, says Kelly Drennan, founding executive director of nonprofit fashion sustainability organization Fashion Takes Action, adding that fresh-water sources are often polluted by the toxic chemicals used to manufacture jeans.

That doesn’t mean you have to stop wearing denim outright. “It’s about thinking about your needs and wants, and really trying to invest, not just in denim, but in your overall wardrobe and buying quality pieces that are going to last,” says Drennan. To get you started on your quest to an eco-friendlier wardrobe, here are nine brands making chic sustainable denim.

  • 1/9
    © Outland Denim

    Outland Denim

    If Outland Denim sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve probably seen Meghan Markle sporting its sustainably made jeans on several occasions. The Australian brand sources environmentally friendly and ethically made materials and uses recyclable packaging and plant-based dyes. Through its Denim Project,the company employs women who have been rescued from sex-trafficking in Asia, helping them to establish a career during their path to recovery. ($235, outlanddenim.ca)


  • 2/9
    © Iris Denim

    Iris Denim

    This made-in-Canada brand manufactures their denim using non-toxic chemicals. Our fave Iris Denim piece? Their culottes, which are available in five washes. They’re the perfect pair of transitional jeans, making them easy to wear year-round. ($215, irisdenim.com)


  • 3/9
    © E.L.V. Denim

    E.L.V. Denim

    Think nineties grunge, but super sustainable. East London Vintage is located in — you guessed it — East London. The company aims to be as close to zero waste as possible, and uses discarded denim to create one-of-a-kind jeans. FYI: this means your friends will never have the same jeans as you. ($474, elvdenim.com)


  • 4/9
    © Mud Jeans

    Mud Jeans

    With their Lease A Jeans program, you can lease a pair of Mud Jeans for a monthly fee and exchange them for a new pair when you’re ready to switch things up. The returned pairs are either recycled into new jeans or leased to someone else. Relaxed but polished is Mud Jeans’ mantra; the Beverly Shorts are the ideal pair to be dressed up or down for the summer and are available in two different washes. ($131, mudjeans.eu)


  • 5/9
    © M.i.h. Jeans

    M.i.h. Jeans

    London-based M.i.h. Jeans hopes to use 80% percent sustainably sourced cotton in a few years time, but they’ve already started with their sustainable denim line, Paradise. For the refined vintage aesthetic, try the Daily Crop Jean. Cropped and frayed, they have metal detailing along the seams for a little rock-and-roll edge, and are made with organic cotton employing water-reducing technology, which uses up to 97.5% less water than traditional methods. ($319, mih-jeans.com)


  • 6/9
    © Levi’s


    Levi’s is a pop-culture fave and the pioneer in anything denim, so it makes sense that the brand has also been working on changing the industry with their own sustainable practices. Levi’s has vowed to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals within their supply chains, reduce and recycle water used in manufacturing and, by 2020, aims to use 100 percent sustainable cotton. The brand also works with Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green program, giving old denim a new life and reducing waste in landfills. So far, the program has helped recycle over 2.4 million pieces of denim. ($108, levi.com.)


  • 7/9
    © Frank and Oak

    Frank and Oak

    Frank and Oak incorporates sustainably harvested cotton, biodegradable fibres and an innovative hydro-less process, which reduces the amount of water, chemicals and energy used while manufacturing denim. Its circular denim line is made with recycled fabrics that are re-spun into new yards and then used to make very cute garments, like the Nina wide leg jeans. ($90, frankandoak.com)


  • 8/9
    © Reformation


    Reformation jeans, which have won the approval of Sofia Richie and Emily Ratajkowski – to name two of the celebs frequently spotted in the brand – are sustainably made. The brand monitors the air and water emissions within its manufacturing facilities and use dyes that are safe for the environment and its end-users. The Eloise jean, with an exposed button fly and cropped wide leg fit, is a cool-girl take on the classic blue jean. ($200, thereformation.com)


  • 9/9
    © Triarchy


    Triarchy denim is designed in America and manufactured in Mexico City using innovative and effective sustainable practices. The water used to make its denim is recycled using a system in which natural bacteria consumes the dyes before re-using the water to start the process all over again. The hardware used for Triarchy jeans comes from recycled sheet material and the labels are made with recycled leather. Aside from its every-day denim, Triarchy has an atelier denim line that offers pieces like these indigo high-waisted fringe jeans, to elevate your look. ($349, triarchy.com)


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