Think of the classic, timeless, pieces from your wardrobe and your favorite pair of denim will invariably come to mind – for good reason. The mainstay of any solid wardrobe, denim was originally celebrated for its ability to function as a sturdy and practical work trouser. Over the years denim has taken on a life of its own and has become an iconic symbol of uncomplicated, perennial style.
Offering every possible cut, fit, and wash imaginable, denim also comes in a vast range of quality, and we’re not only talking long-lasting (that too), but in terms of environmental and social impact. Sandblasting (a procedure used to give jeans that distressed, “worn” look and which puts workers’ health in serious damage), pesticides, toxic chemicals used in dyes and softeners mean our (seemingly cruelty-free) jeans are putting a strain on the Earth.
Fortunately, there are denim brands not only committed to making your behind look great, but also to adhering to strict standards of social and environmental responsibility.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, with two very carefully crafted fits – one for girls and one for guys -, Imogene + Willie has since expanded to a larger facility in Los Angeles. A brand specialising in locally produced denim, Imogene + Willie is perhaps best known for their fits, which, if you’ve ever worn a pair of their denim, have clearly been meticulously designed and are exceptionally flattering. The brand’s products are designed to last a lifetime if you properly care for them.
Cotton is among the most resource intensive agricultural products and is responsible for 24% and 11% of global sales of insecticides and pesticides respectively. Unsustainable cotton farming can, and has, lead to the destruction of large-scale eco-systems. (WWF report on cotton farming, Cotton: A Water Wasting Crop) So, purchasing organic cotton is better for both the environment and farmers who grow and harvest it.
Kuyichi uses organic cotton and recycled materials in their denim. Additionally, they eschew the use of sandblasting or any other abrasive blasting as finishing process on their jeans because exposure to abrasive blasting dust is harmful to garment workers. As the brand is committed to transparency in their supply chain, visitors to the Kuyichi website can read about the various sustainability measures in place, corporate responsibility, and even read about the factories they use and meet several of the garment workers who make their denim. It’s always nice to be able to know who exactly made your clothes!
Originally a menswear brand, USA-made Noble Denim recently released their first women’s style: a slim high-rise available in three washes. Partnering with a handful of small factories who pay their workers fair wages, Noble often releases carefully curated “small batch” collections of handmade styles in limited runs.
One of the few denim brands that explicitly advertises one of their styles as vegan, Naked and Famous offers their organic vegan selvedge denim in two fits for guys. Made from unbleached organic cotton, the logo patch is crafted from a heavy cardboard which has the look and feel of leather. Ethically made in Canada, Naked and Famous denim utilizes rare denim fabrics imported from a storied mill in Japan; as self-proclaimed denim purists, they have such a reverence for the culture and history of the fabrics that they keep the fabric raw – no washes or destroyed styles here.
If the fact that they set aside 10% of their net profits to the building of an animal sanctuary doesn’t hook you as a customer, then their trendy, unique styles will. Made in California, Sonas Denim definitely appeals to someone looking for a fun style that is a bit edgier than the typical classic pair of denim.
PETA-approved vegan brand Monkee Genes was created in 2006 when founder Phil Wildbore had the idea to offer something fresh and vibrant to a younger market, while staying ethical. Crafting their men’s and women’s styles in England, Monkee Genes works with organic cotton to create a product that’s durable, kind to the planet and responsible towards workers.
Header photo by Redd Angelo via Unsplash. Other photos via respective brands