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We have always been told that the one must-have item for a woman is the perfect pair of jeans. The right jeans can make us feel confident and magical. The right jeans can be worn to work, to the park and to the club! The right jeans can weather years of wear and tear and still look good. However, finding this perfect pair isn’t an easy task. Not only do they need to be flattering to your shape, but the quality of the denim needs to be worth the investment, and most importantly, the denim needs to be ethical. Over the years, the reputation of denim has been dragged through the mud of ethical fashion. Traditional denim production has taken a massive toll on the environment and an even bigger toll on certain communities by using slave labour. Thankfully, more and more companies are coming up with ways to eliminate these unethical methods and to create a product which is good for the planet and which will make us feel good about wearing it. For the sake of a better future, here are some things you should know before making your next denim purchase.
What makes denim ethical?
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Ethical denim is denim that is produced in an ethical and fair way in a manner that is also sustainable for the environment. This means that sweatshops and child labour are replaced by family businesses and factories with proper working conditions. It also means using new and innovative methods of reducing the amount of chemicals and water required to produce jeans. It takes too much water to make jeans (not to mention the amount it takes just to grow the cotton for the process). So if a denim company has found a way to lower the industry standard of water waste, for instance, they are on the right path towards ethical denim.
What do you wear with ethical denim?
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If we invest in ethical jeans but then go out and buy an extravagant top to combine with those jeans, we still aren’t doing our part in supporting this ethical movement. Jeans have the ability to look good with just about anything, whether we are planning on dressing up or dressing down. However, we need to make sure that whatever we choose doesn’t contradict the statement of those jeans. For instance, choosing to wear a shirt that was made in a sweatshop would be kind of like taking one step forward and five steps back. You should be looking at brands such as Rasaleela that sell ethical cotton dresses and tops that are produced exclusively by different family businesses which strictly adhere to child labour laws. Besides opting for more ethical brands, you should keep your shopping to a minimum and only buy clothes to replace old, worn-out ones instead of them piling up and creating a larger demand for production (and in turn more pollution).
Which brands promote ethical production?
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There are many companies that deserve praise for revolutionising ethical denim so that you can keep wearing your favorite pieces guilt-free. Here are just a few examples of the brands to watch:
Men’s organic jeans and women’s organic jeans and apparel. Eco jeans designed in the UK and always ethically produced. The brand was founded by designer Phil Wildbore in 2006, borne out of the frustration with the denim mass -market. Wildbore was determined to create denim with was accessible, vibrant and youthful, whilst also able to raise public consciousness with its snappy branding and transparent communications. I interviewed the founder here.
Kuyichi is a brand that started out in South America and was appalled by the conditions of the cotton farmers and the pollution caused by denim production. They have resorted to getting rid of the use of toxic chemicals and creating 100% organic denim.
G-Star is aware that in thinking about their brand’s future, they need to think about the future of the planet. In order to ensure that they stick around for a while, they have invested in innovative and sustainable ways of production and have made their methods transparent.
Warp + Weft is a family owned business that has been making denim for three decades. They make a point of following the international social, environmental and quality standards to the fullest. They provide their workers with fair salaries and proper working conditions while providing their customers with high-quality ethical denim.
Ethical denim is bringing us another step closer to a better and healthier future. Hopefully it will inspire you to do your best in making it happen.
By Claire Hastings