There’s nothing quite like buying a new pair of jeans, putting them on for the first time, and having them fit like a glove. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself what had to happen for those jeans to be made and then shipped to your front door? Well, today I’m continuing on with my series of finding eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable fashion brands and the focus of this installment is — you guessed it — denim. Denim has a bad rap for using tons of water and energy to create a single pair, as well as being made by people who do not get paid a living wage. All of this plays a role in living an eco-friendly, sustainable and ethical lifestyle. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite ethically made denim brands!
Image source: Fawcett jeans from Reformation.
Looking for Ethically Made Denim? This List Has You Covered
Recently, we shared posts like this over handbags and shoes and listed some of the companies out there doing a good job of making them with the environment and ethics top of mind. I also thoroughly break down what sustainability, ethics and being eco-friendly means as they relate to the fashion industry and provide tips on how to shop with this in mind, so definitely go read those posts for more on this topic. In short, though, to me, these things mean being much more intentional and aware of your decision making and taking time to educate yourself on not only the kinds of purchases you’re making, but the companies that are making the products you’re buying.
The brands below are ones that I think are making the right decisions and taking steps in the right direction, so I hope this list helps you the next time you’re looking to buy a pair of jeans you want to feel good about – both in how they fit your body and on being eco-friendly, sustainable and ethical.
Ethics | eco-friendly, uses certified organic cotton, carbon offset program, fairtrade, completely transparent supply chain and 100% vegan
Price range | $132-$143
MUD Jeans appears to be the pinnacle of eco-friendly, sustainable and ethically produced denim. Good On You gave it a 5/5 rating in all categories AND it’s a staff pick from the folks that run Good On You. They use organic cotton, have a carbon offset program, and pay employees a living wage in addition to also being 100% vegan. What?! Sounds almost too good to be true, but it’s definitely not. They also have a recycling program that encourages customers to send them their old jeans when they buy a new pair. So cool, right?
Ethics | eco-friendly, uses certified organic cotton, pays living wage, transparent supply chain
Price range | $195-$275
Outland Denim hires women in their countries of production who have been victims of exploitation, which says a lot about the brand right there. They work to empower their employees while also focusing heavily on their environmental impact through minimal designs and processes. This is a new-to-me brand and after checking out their website, I think I’m going to have to try a pair of overalls!
Citizens of Humanity
Ethics | manufactures locally to reduce carbon footprint, final stage production in the USA, semi-transparent supply chain, does not use animal products
Price range | $188-$268
One of the main things I love about Citizens of Humanity is that part of their production takes place in the US, which creates local jobs — always a fan of that! They also have programs in place to reduce their carbon footprint. When I first checked out their site I was blown away by their selection of denim, especially all the corduroy because who doesn’t love corduroy?!
Ethics | eco-friendly, uses renewable energy, heavy focus on paying a living wage, mostly-transparent supply chain
Price range | $98-$148
Reformation’s denim is so good! And I feel like it’s moderately priced – still kind of expensive, but if you save for only the best jeans instead of buying several cheap pairs, I think this is a great company to buy from. I love that they actually use all their fabric scraps (what’s leftover after cutting a pattern) to reduce waste. I feel like they’re much more “mainstream” than maybe the first three brands, so if you’re shopping at Nordstrom or any other large retailer, look for Reformation!
Ethics | Focus on using renewable energy, measure and reports water usage, mostly transparent supply chain
Price range | $20-$60
You might be a little bit surprised to find H&M on this list, and although they aren’t “perfect,” they’re making a lot of efforts that other fast fashion brands haven’t even begun to think about — like their goal to use 100% renewable energy by 2035 and having a mostly transparent supply chain. What do I like about H&M? It’s affordable. I love the idea of everyone having access to brands that are taking steps in the right direction.
Ethics | working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions company-wide, uses leather but its tanneries are monitored by the Leather Working Group, semi-transparent supply chain
Price range | $20-$51
Another pleasant surprise! Asos definitely has a long way to go, but again it’s nice to see fast fashion companies acknowledging the effect they have on the environment and working to at least do something about it. Plus, like H&M, it’s an affordable place to buy denim (and pretty much everything else) so hopefully consumers will continue to recognize the fashion companies moving in a more conscious direction. And lastly, I really like Asos because they are more inclusive in their size offering and model selection.
Shop the post:
- recycled high waisted slim mom jeans
- organic cotton straight leg jeans
- high waist mom jeans with organic cotton
- high wasted premium black jeans
Another great option is to shop secondhand on platforms like Poshmark or ThredUp. You can find great, gently used denim for a fraction of the price!
What do you consider when buying denim? Do you have a favorite brand I didn’t mention? Leave a comment and let me know!