While it's fair to say that jeans are probably the most reliable staple in all our wardrobes, few are aware that they are also one of the most resource-heavy and environmentally harmful. Denim uses damaging chemicals in its treatment and dyeing processes, and a single pair of jeans can use up to 8,000 litres of water in its production. Denim is also made from cotton, a crop grown in most agricultural economies using toxic, artificial pesticides and fertilisers. The textile’s popularity from its original workwear days to its status as a wardrobe staple has led to mass over-farming of cotton globally.

As we prioritise the brands that put transparency and traceability at their core, we have a plethora of choices in denim brands tackling the issue in full force. From Gabriela Hearst x E.L.V. Denim’s upcycled flares to Levi’s eco 501s, there are ample options to get your jean fix from today.

Selecting an eco-friendly brand to build your denim wardrobe is only one step to improving your shopping habits in favour of the planet. By extending the life of our garments by just nine months, a study by WRAP suggests that we can reduce the product’s waste, carbon and water footprints by 20-30%. The aftercare of our denim is also just as important, by washing our jeans less – and ditching the tumble dryer altogether – we can lower our environmental footprint even further. So, don’t be all talk and no trousers – if you’re buying and wearing denim now you can do it as mindfully as possible.


With over 233,700 garments (and counting) diverted from landfills, this brand has a lot to brag about when it comes to sustainable credentials. LA-based Re/Done uses upcycled jeans to create its eponymous designs, beloved by A-listers Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber. If their upcycled styles aren’t your cup of tea, they also use a range of eco-friendly materials – including organic cotton – to create original pieces. But the brand’s eco effort doesn’t stop there, by working to extend the life of its garments even further, they offer free denim repairs for life for their registered customers – a worthy investment that ticks all the boxes in my opinion.


Cult brand Nudie Jeans is somewhat of a pioneer when it comes to denim sustainability. The 100% traceable brand, founded back in 2001, doesn't beat around the bush with its eco-efforts. But their focus is not only on protecting the planet, they also put human rights and the well-being of the people involved in their production at the forefront of the brand’s identity – an unfortunate rarity at many of the other big brands. Their wide range of styles channelling Scandi-chic are certain to find a place in any wardrobe, and Nudie is another brand offering free repairs and/or repair kits to extend the lifespan of your pair.


The world’s biggest denim brand, Levi’s isn't the first to come to mind when thinking about sustainable denim. However, a new series of collaborations and initiatives have resulted in an eco-friendly makeover of their iconic 501s, which means you can now enjoy your classic favourites whilst ticking off the sustainability box. The new production methods use certified organic cotton and Circulose – a textile made from chemically recycled cotton waste. Not only have they updated their methods, but Levi’s Water<Less initiative has long-term aims to drastically reduce water use in production, using over 20 innovative techniques they have developed in-house. If the Giants can do it convincingly, can’t everyone?


Already established as a London girl’s go-to, E.L.V Denim bases its identity around upcycling. Deconstructing two pairs of pre-loved jeans, and stitching them back together – jigsaw-style. Its collections are made entirely by local seamstresses using pre-existing materials, with recent collabs with designers such as Gabriela Hearst, this brand boasts creative designs as well as sustainability-conscious methods. Want to guarantee the perfect pair? Check out their bespoke service, allowing you to achieve the desired fit and style you’ve long been looking for.


Veteran denim brand Closed has been championing sustainable design since its inception in 1978 – long before eco-friendliness was in fashion. Yet in 2018, to reinforce its commitment to reducing its environmental footprint, the German brand developed a dedicated eco-denim line titled, ‘A Better Blue’. The range is made using eco-friendly dyeing methods and materials and gentle washing techniques that save considerable amounts of water, chemicals and electricity – without compromising the brand's signature style and high quality. An investment that has already stood the test of time.


LA-based Reformation, the brand we already love for its cute occasion-wear, also has a circular denim collection, which features jeans made from pre-loved materials and full traceable cotton – yes, please! As well as being fully recyclable, the latest designs have reduced water consumption by 89% and carbon footprint by nearly 30%. Their limited production model prevents overproducing and unnecessary waste, plus, it means no one at the party will be wearing the same denim as you.

By Emily Whitehurst


Tags: Jeans , Denim , Redone