A lot of us would feel lost without a faithful pair of jeans to slip into. Come rain or shine, denim makes up the most versatile parts of our wardrobes. Worn casually or smartened up with the right tailoring and shoes, denim gets better with age, moulding and softening to fit our varying body types the more you wear it.

And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably also know by now that denim is also one of the most environmentally harmful garments to produce. Notorious for its excess of harmful chemicals and mass use of cotton, one pair of jeans can drain around 8,000 litres of water in its production.

In other words, denim is a big no-no when it comes to doing good. But denim brands – big and small – are stepping up to the mark in a constant search for solutions to make the jeans we love and wear on rotation less damaging to the planet.

Dala Denim is the latest brand to believe in grabbing the bull by both horns. Working with a small-scale factory in Paraguay, an area not yet widely known for its ethical practices in manufacturing, Dala are setting out to reinvent the space by creating everyday, versatile denim that you’ll buy once and wear forever – with a design touch. Committed to size inclusivity and customisation, Dala aims to demystify the world of denim and champion a personal, human approach to the clothes we wear and how they make us feel.

Creative Director Rosie Ingleby, a former denim consultant who has worked in the industry for over 10 years, uses her knowledge of traditional approaches to enrich her understanding of how to change the space. As a result, every detail is considered – from the hemline bar tacks, so you can cut your denim to the desired length without fraying away over time, to the removable, eco-finished hardware that aids end-of-life in a bid for circularity.

Dala’s jeans are also made without polluting, or harsh chemicals, opting for ozone and laser treatments as an alternative for achieving that beloved washed look, plus, the factory has water recycling and solar systems in place to run the operation. And just when we thought we didn't need another eco brand, Dala makes a convincing case for investing in sustainable denim.

Because caught up with Rosie to find out more about this exciting venture…

Can you tell us about Dala Denim's journey so far?
“We have been live for about seven months, and it's been an exciting and organic experience. We wanted to take things slowly and introduce our brand in a natural way, focusing on building our aesthetic and creating a community gradually. Our first drop launched in November, which was all focused around a wash called Hurricane, which is a black wash, and the latest collection, Lido, looks to summer staples. It's all made in Paraguay, which is a big part of the brand story.”

Why is your partnership with the Paraguayan factory unique?
“Our collaboration with a small boutique factory in Paraguay sets us apart. It's an unusual location for denim manufacturing, I’ve always worked in denim, but my previous experiences have mostly been with Turkish factories, and a couple of textile mills in Italy. ​​It's a whole new thing out there, which I think already gives the project a bit more energy. They are not only really sustainable in terms of processes but they also prioritise ethical practices and community development, which is really important to us.”

Tell us more about your sustainable practices in the manufacturing process…
“Nowadays, there are so many sustainable boxes you have to tick, especially coming to the market new because “sustainability” is not really something you can shout about anymore, it has to be inherent in what you do.

The fabrics we use are either 100% organic or made from recycled fibres, and the factory uses a water cleaning system which means all excess is reused in the manufacturing process or in agriculture, plus, the whole factory is solar powered, so there's a lot of really good stuff that exists outside of low impact washing and lasers, which is still amazing but should be industry standard now. Of course, being fully transparent, it's based in Paraguay. So you've got to think about everything else in terms of like shipping and air miles, we're still working on being fully cyclical, but these things take time and we're doing like the best that we can.”

How does Dala Denim cater to size inclusivity?
“We are proud to offer sizes ranging from waist 24” to 44”, (a UK size 6 to 24 ). Unlike many brands, we have chosen to keep our denim rigid. A lot of brands that cater to plus sizes bring in stretch fabrics, but I feel like it washes down and loses its shape quicker. I love rigid denim as a history, and we believe it adds character and structure to our designs, which makes us unique.

The feedback we've had from the plus-sized community has been really emotional. We’ve had people say “I'd given up on denim until now,” which is so special for us to hear and makes all the hard work worthwhile. It's a challenge making clothes that look incredible on every body type but we’ve embraced it.”

What sets Dala Denim apart from other denim brands?
“I think denim has a habit of either being really traditional – a classic five-pocket style for proper denim heads, or it becomes really stylised, cut-up, slashed or spray painted. We wanted to create something in the middle, something that should fit into any wardrobe, something that combines classic denim fundamentals with a twist. We focus on the details, thoughtful topstitching, relaxed fits and unique design elements, like a play on the biker jacket with back vents and added tailoring tucks and finishes.

All our jeans also feature a special bartack, which allows customers to cut them to their desired length without worrying about fraying, it makes our garments both functional and personal, which is so important with denim especially as it changes with the body over time. If you're working with such a beautiful fabric, like denim it should be able to last a really long time and you should be able to customise it. It’s inherently personal."

How do you minimise waste in its manufacturing process?
“We have started a program with our factory where damaged or imperfect washes are repurposed into blankets or used in future collections in patchwork designs that are different every time. This reduces waste and creates a unique history and range of one-of-a-kind pieces. It's nice for us to look back on and see the evolution of all of our past collections. To really see how far we’ve come already in each piece of fabric is so special.”

By Augustine Hammond