Denim is a staple of any modern woman’s wardrobe. In fact, most people I know count their denim collection at somewhere around 5 pairs, though I know many who have more, myself included—I wear jeans almost every day. But as a consumer who is trying to become more thoughtful and conscious of the purchases I make, and their impact to things like the environment, I know that denim is often a big problem. It takes a lot of water to make jeans, and they create a lot of waste. And though you might love purchasing a pair for $20, it’s not a sustainable buy—not for you (who will likely have to replace them in 6 months to a year), and not to the planet (because they’ll likely end up in a landfill).
The good news is, there are some brands that are changing the game. Eco practices, upcycling and more efficient product chains are some of the ways that these four brands are making sure you can enjoy your denim—while also reducing the negative impact of your purchase.
See below for 4 denim brands that are changing denim for the better:
Canadian brand, Triarchy, focuses on conservation of water when it comes to making denim. According to the site, it takes about 2,900 gallons of water to make one pair of cotton jeans. Not exactly environmentally friendly. So, the brand headed to Mexico City where it works with a factory that uses 85% recycled water. They also use a tencel-cotton blend in their denim, which is made from the eucalyptus tree—which uses less energy to grow and is considered a sustainable crop—and recycled materials for its labels and hardware. The denim itself sells for about $200 Canadian, and is limited to your core staples—skinny jeans. Though you can check out the brand’s atelier line, which is more fashion forward and is made from entirely repurposed denim, and features fun options like fringed denim jackets and mixed-media jeans.
Triarchy denim is available at triarchy.com and at select retailers.
The newest sustainable denim offering to Canada has something else going for it—it’s also an amazing story about empowering women. James Bartle started this Australian-based brand when he saw first-hand how human traffickers use young women in the sex industry. When he discovered how difficult it was for women who escape that life to start over and how long-term career options are scarce, he started the denim project. Bartle didn’t have a background in textiles, but he did want to help—and he loves denim. Outland Denim has a production facility in Cambodia that employs, teaches and facilitates the career advancement of many women who have escaped the sex trade. You’ll be happy to learn, that the jeans are great too. Though the selection is limited (for now), the denim has the perfect amount of stretch, and is priced somewhere between mass and luxury denim. Meaning that you can spend a little more to do a whole world of good.
Everyone’s favourite sustainable basics line, Everlane finally came out with denim last year. I immediately bought the high-rise skinny and have been wearing them ever since. Definitely a pick for someone who prefers more denim in their denim-to-spandex ratio, these jeans are available in a bunch of washes and four styles—my next purchase will definitely be the kick crop. The brand boasts that its denim is made at the world’s cleanest denim factory—and it has the numbers to back it up. Since water waste is one of the main concerns when making denim, Everlane ensures that 98% of the water used, is recycled. The factory also used alternative and clean energy sources and repurposes the byproducts of denim waste. The commitment to radical transparency means that you find out all of this on their site, and see how the brand’s denim compares to the industry standard. The best part? These jeans are affordable—another of Everlane’s commitments. At $68-78 USD, even with a conversion, you’re likely to still be able to buy a pair of sustainable, ethical denim at under $100 Canadian dollars.
Everlane denim is available at everlane.com and ships to Canada.
If, like us, you’ve long coveted the easy-to-wear and California-cool style of Reformation (this writer even bought her wedding dress from the brand), you also probably know that it is committed to efficient and eco-friendly practices. Which means that whenever you purchase something, you can see right on the product page the “Ref Scale,” which includes how much water, carbon dioxide and waste was saved compared to the industry standard. It is also committed to building green, reducing it’s energy footprint and minimizing waste—while also taking steps to counteract any waste or emissions they have caused in the form of forest-planting and clean water solutions. The great thing about these jeans is that there are so many different options. Cropped, flared, bright, detailed—the brand really does have something for everyone. And while the prices listed on the website are in US dollars (the company is LA-based) they do ship to Canada
Reformation Jeans are available at thereformation.com and ship to Canada.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Alexandra Donaldson)