Jeans from your bodyscan? Free repairs for life? Nontoxic production methods? So many reasons to invest in better jeans. And the fact they’re ridiculously stylish is a given.
Looking for sustainable denim? Your search is over my friends. We’ve made a list of our favorite companies that are known for both ethical denim and sustainable denim practices. Yes, they are more expensive than other brands. But realize that “regular” jeans are produced in ways that are notoriously toxic for people and the planet. So ask yourself if that’s something that, now that you know, you want to support? Maybe not? Then here are a list of sustainable and ethical denim brands that you’ll want to know. And that’s not greenwash!
Our Top Pick | unspun
This company is creating in the way we see as the Future of Fashion. Literally built to order so there is no such thing as excessive inventory. Each pair of jeans is made from a 3D scan of your body. (there’s an app for that!)
Their mission is to reduce global carbon emissions by 1% through automated, localized, and intentional manufacturing. They’ve developed tech that is beginning to enable a zero waste and circular fashion industry where nothing becomes trash.
You can choose the style and then customize it through a series of questions on how you would like them to fit. You even have the option of organic cotton and the use of thread that biodegrades so that they are completely compostable.
Price Range: around $215 but sign up for their email for discounts. This might seem a little pricey but it’s well worth it.
Sizes: No size but yours!
There is a lot of institutional and racial bias embedded in sizing, and they get rid of sizes altogether and instead custom-fit products around actual people in real time.
Fabrics: Choose organic cotton and white thread to make this a completely biodegradable jean.
Nudie Jeans – runner up
Nudie Jeans has almost as much information on their site about how their products are made as the actual products themselves. You can read up on sustainable production, living wages, chemicals, or transparency just to name a few. They also offer free repairs forever. So think about that when you are calculating the price. And with the wide range of styles there’s something for everyone.
Price Range: $185 -200
Sizes: Width 24–38 in, Length 28–36 in
Fabrics: GOTS Organic Cotton
Frank and Oak
A certified B Corp, Frank and Oak is now a leader in sustainable fashion and using innovative fabrics from nature to make products that are thoughtfully designed to help you live better, enjoy more, and feel good in everything you wear.
Their Circular denim™ is made of post-consumer waste. Worn-out jeans that were destined for the landfill are collected and redirected to a fabric recycler where they are shredded and broken down over several steps until they’re reduced to fibres. Those salvaged fibres are then re-spun into new materials, reducing our footprint and giving your old jeans a new life.
Organic Cotton and Hydro-less denim made in a circular process by: Laser distress then Nano-bubble and Ozone wash.
Price Range: $99 –129 (also good price reductions)
Fabrics: Organic Cotton
In January 2009, Reformation was founded by Yael Afalo who began by retailoring vintage clothing. In 2013 they opened the first sustainable factory in downtown Los Angeles. 2015 saw the introduction of RefScale to track their environmental footprint which opened the door for customers to get in on circularity (before it became a necessary buzzword!) By March, 2021 FibreTrace helped Reformation make fully traceable denim from the world’s first climate positive cotton farm in Australia. WWD (3.16.21)
Price Range: $98 -198 (good sales) Sizes: 23-31 –plus some extended sizes,“women” sizes only Fabrics: Regenerative Cotton, TENCIL Lyocell, sustainability impact per item listed
With sustainability (in the true sense) their North Star, Outerknown has become synonymous with innovative practices. 90% of their fibers are organic, recycled, or regenerated. And through Fair Trade USA, they invest in the livelihoods of over 5K workers who bring their vision to life. To keep jeans out of the landfill, the company will repair, replace or recycle. A quick glance at their website becomes a wonderful journey into what can happen with heart and vision.
Price Range: $178–328 Sizes: 24 -32
Fabrics: Selvedge denim from Fukuyama, Japan, Isko Denim from Turkey, and COREVA stretch technology which recycles 100% of their waste.
“We’re raising the bar, not only for ourselves, but for the denim industry at large. Sustainable and ethical denim should be the norm.”
A family-owned brand, creating premium denim with sustainability at their
core since 2008, DL 1961 takes trash, turning it into your new favorite jeans,
with eco-friendly material, and a commitment to social responsibility. Starting with trash, shredding into fibers and then dying and weaving while mindful of water conservation, the final product represents closed-loop manufacturing to certified cotton and so many other good for the planet things!
Price Range: $189-229
Sizes: depending on style 23-34, or 14 – 3XL Fabrics: Certified Cotton with a little poly and LYCRA for stretch
Warp + Weft
A family-owned company that’s been in the denim business for three decades. Their eco-friendly mill is one of the world’s largest textile manufacturers, which means they can create high quality denim that’s good for you, the planet, and your wallet.
A traditional pair of jeans takes 1,500 gallons of water to make, but a pair of Warps requires less than 10. Beyond that, they treat and recycle 98% of the water used. They also skip the environmentally-harmful bleaching process by opting for cutting-edge Dry Ozone technology, making them fully compliant with International Social and Environmental & Quality Standards.
Plus, a commitment to ethical practices, fair wages, reasonable hours, and positive working conditions for all their people.
Price Range: $88–118 Sizes: 00–14 and 14–24 Fabrics: Warp + Weft makes their own premium denim from scratch. Their cotton, Lycra, and Tencel comes from the U.S., sourced with the highest quality European dyes.
It all comes together through a proprietary cotton wrapping technique to guarantee premium textiles with incredible value and comfort.
Focusing on product quality, fit, and authentic washes, Boyish create styles reminiscent of your favorite pair of vintage jeans with an updated, fresh design and feminine fit.
At the core of all Boyish collections lies a deep commitment to leaving as little impact on the earth as possible. All jeans are produced with sustainable fabrics through a completely environmentally-friendly and cruelty-free process.
This includes working with ethical factories, using less harmful chemicals during the dyeing process, utilizing one-third of the amount of water typically needed to produce a pair of jeans, and working exclusively with recycled fabrics and materials for everything put out by the brand. From hangtags and hardware to the polybags they are shipped in, everything put forth by Boyish Jeans is thought through to ensure there is minimal impact on our environment.
Price Range: $158 –188 Sizes: 22–32 “women” sizes only Fabrics: Vegan denim, zero leather, cruelty-free and PETA approved. OCS 100 Certified Organic cotton, Recycled cotton (Higg Index), GRS Recycled Fabrics (3rd party certified), deadstock fabrics, TENCEL LYOCELL + TENCIL X Refibra Lyocell (part of a closed loop Lyocell process to keep cotton scraps out of the landfill)
Outland Denim’s mission is to set the highest standard of social, environmental and economic justice and create opportunities for people in need. There are so many positives about this company but front and center, and the reason for its founding, was/remains the complete elimination of slavery. Another vibrant story and if you have the time do read their 2020 Sustainability Report – it’s both humbling and inspiring. Sustainable and ethical denim is front and center.
Price Range: $190–249 Sizes: 23–34
Fabrics: Organic Cotton + other natural fibers (Lyocell, recycled cotton, etc.). Dyed with zero harmful chemicals
Circular Denim: What it is, why it’s important and where to find it.
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Our Favorite 7 Pairs of Sustainable Jeans from Ethical Clothing Brands
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Our Shopping Guide for Sustainable and Ethical Underwear
Ethical Menswear Shopping Guide