15 Mar

The 2019 Ultimate Guide to Ethical Denim

There’s nothing like a good pair of denim jeans. Comfortable, durable and timeless, the cotton-based fabric one of the most used materials in the world.

Sadly, denim can have a substantial environmental cost. Cotton is known to be a particularly thirsty crop – by some estimates it can take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton. That’s enough to make just one t-shirt and one pair of jeans! On top of that, pesticides and synthetic chemical dyes can lead to water pollution.

But if you love the fabric as much as we do, don’t panic! There are ethical brands going above and beyond to create better, more sustainable denim options. So without further ado, here is our guide to ethical denim!

Jeans

Kuyichi

Rated: Great

Jenna Boyfriend Sympany Blue – Ships internationally

Launched in 2001, Kuyichi is the first organic denim brand. The brand uses a high-proportion of eco-friendly materials including organic cotton, like in these boyfriend jeans. In addition to being eco-friendly, these jeans have a huge social impact: Kuyichi collaborated with Sympany to give 10% of the profits to help make the women of Malawi more empowered and self-reliant.

C&A

Rated: Good

The Classic Straight Jeans – Ships to Selected European Countries

C&A released the world’s first Gold Level Cradle to Cradle-certified range of jeans for men and women in July 2018. These jeans are both sustainably made, and designed to be recycled.

Nudie Jeans

Rated: Good

Hightop Tilde Raven Black – Ships internationally

Nudie Jeans gives you the naked truth about denim! The brand’s use of eco-friendly materials limits the amount of chemicals, water and wastewater used in production. These jeans are made in lightweight, super stretch jet black denim, making them the perfect pair of black jeans for your wardrobe.

Bleed

Rated: Great

Active Grey Jeans – Ships internationally

Germany’s Bleed makes ethical and sustainable outdoor clothing, that’s vegan too.  These denims are made with 98% GOTS-certified cotton for comfortable, everyday wear.

Monkee Genes

Rated: Good

Organic Wide Fit Skate Cropped Jeans – Ships internationally

Wide fit pants are back in style! Monkee Genes designs vegan and organic jeans, supporting the relief of child labour and poor working conditions. We love the color and fit of this pair!

E.L.V. Denim

Rated: Good

Mid Blue/Light Blue Contrast Jean – Ships internationally

E.L.V. Denim take stocks of old discarded denim and transforms them into modern and sophisticated jeans. These gorgeous contrasted jeans can add an original twist to your outfit.

Zola Amour

Rated: Great

Custom-length Jeans – Ships internationally

Wide-legged and high-waisted, these jeans cut a distinctive shape.  UK label Zola Amour will even hem a pair to your length if you send them your measurements.

Shirts

Marks & Spencer

Rated: Good

CURVE Long Sleeve Soft Touch Shirt – Ships internationally

90s favourite the denim shirt has made its comeback (although the jury is still out on double denim!). This ‘denim’ shirt is actually made from 100% lyocell – a great easy, casual piece.

KnowledgeCotton Apparel

Rated: Good

Denim Shirt with Cutaway Collar – Ships internationally

This denim shirt by Danish menswear brand Knowledge Cotton Apparel is certified both GOTS organic and vegan. It’s versatile to wear to work or play, and built to last.

Jackets

MUD Jeans

Rated: Great

Tyler Jacket – Ships internationally

Jackets are also a great way to add denim to your wardrobe. This sophisticated basic by MUD Jeans is made from 40% post-consumer recycled cotton and 60% organic cotton. This unisex model can be worn everyday or as a signature item.

Shorts

Outland Denim

Rated: Great

Emmy Shorts – Ships internationally

Outland denim makes premium denim jeans and offers ethical employment opportunities for women rescued from human trafficking in Cambodia. These Emmy shorts make for a timeless staple that you can wear all summer long. AND, the brand is a favourite of Meghan Markle’s.

Skirts

Nobody Denim

Rated: Good

Siren Skirt – Ships internationally

Nobody Denim have a longstanding commitment to ethical manufacturing principles and offers a unique vision or responsible design. This super high-rise, slim fit, mid-length white denim skirt can be worn with a light top during the summer or with a chunky sweater in-between seasons.

All-in-Ones

Kowtow

Rated: Great

Tokyo Jumpsuit – Ships internationally

Kowtow designs elegant and timeless womenswear, using organic, fair trade cotton, as well as non-toxic dyes. Listed in our guide to ethical jumpsuits, this slim one-piece, features a straight  leg and side seam pockets is made from GOTS certified organic cotton denim and is a modern (and more sustainable) take on the classic denim overalls.

Lucy and Yak

Rated: Good

‘Atlas’ Mens Organic Denim Dungarees – Ships internationally

We love Lucy & Yak’s playful take on the dungaree. With a range for both men and women, this UK brand will brighten up your day.

Dresses

Reformation

Rated: Good

Gabriela Dress – Ships internationally

Reformation makes killer clothes that don’t kill the environment. This rigid slim fitting denim dress with asymmetrical front buttons is a great versatile twist to the denim trend.

Editor's note: Feature image via C&A. All other images via brands mentioned. Good On You has big plans for ethical fashion in 2019! To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offers code or affiliate links.

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