12 Jun

The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Jeans and Ethical Denim

Finding the perfect pair of jeans can be an arduous journey⁠—from fit and cut to length, there are many boxes to be checked. But once the Goldilocks has been found, there is no going back. It will stay with you for many years, seasons, and stains. Needless to say, there’s nothing like a good pair of denim jeans. And what about finding sustainable jeans and ethical denim? Here’s why it’s worth the hunt.

The cotton-based fabric is one of the most used materials in the world. It is estimated that the value of the jeans market worldwide is approximately $110 billion USD. Sadly, denim can have a substantial environmental and human cost. Cotton is known to be a thirsty crop⁠—according to one report, blue water (irrigation) consumption of cotton lint sits at a global average of about 1,900 litres per kilogram. On top of that, pesticides and synthetic chemical dyes can lead to extensive water pollution. It is estimated that 70% of Asia’s rivers and lakes are contaminated by the 2.5 billion gallons of wastewater produced by the textile industry which disproportionately affects local communities who rely on these rivers for drinking and bathing.

Although many brands continue to participate in this detrimental process, others are stepping up and innovating. There are ethical brands going above and beyond to create better, more sustainable denim options. So without further ado, here is our guide to sustainable jeans and ethical denim.

Sustainable Jeans

Outland Denim

Rated: Great
Vintage wash ethical jean by Outland Denim

Amy Wide-leg Jean – Ships internationally from Australia

Outland Denim makes premium denim jeans and offers ethical employment opportunities for women rescued from human trafficking in Cambodia. The Amy is one of the most sustainable vintage-wash jeans on the market. Made from the cleanest raw materials from across the globe, including 40% recycled cotton and 17% organic cotton, these eco jeans will look good and feel good too. And, the brand is a favourite of Meghan Markle! Find most of the brand’s range in US sizes 22-34.

See the rating.

Shop Outland Denim.

MUD Jeans

Rated: Great

Relax Rose Jeans – Ships internationally from the Netherlands

Jackets are also a great way to add sustainable 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. MUD Jeans are available in a range of sizes, usually from W25 L30-W33 L32 for women and W28 L34-W36 L34 for men.

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Shop MUD Jeans.

Shop MUD Jeans @ Labell-D.


Rated: Good

SHELBY Hemp Denim High Waist Wide Leg Jean – Ships internationally from Australia


Two people outdoors wearing eco hemp clothing in new styles by Afends.

Afends – Site-wide

New styles have just landed. Made from hemp, recycled fibres, and organic cotton. Exclusive 15% off with code TURBO15. (Ends: 19 AUG)

Checkout code: TURBO15
Shop now

Afends is a Byron Bay based fashion brand leading the way in organic hemp fashion. Combining hemp and cotton, the Shelby is high waisted and has wide leg. An enduring pair, designed for everyday wear, this hybrid denim gives you some serious eco-essentials to add to your wardrobe. You can find the full range in sizes XS-XL.

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Shop Afends.


Rated: Good
Cropped shot of someone wearing angular cut hem dark wash deadstock cotton jeans designed by ETICA through Veneka.

Scarlet Mid Rise Slim in Night Stripe – Ships within the US

ÉTICA is a premium US luxury brand that features innovative design and cutting-edge technology. The jagged angular hem cuts of these Scarlet mid-rise jeans made from deadstock cotton give the look an edge. Find most items in sizes 38 to 48.

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Shop ÉTICA @ Veneka.


Rated: Great
Woman in Kuyichi loose-style sustainable jeans

Nora Loose Tapered Faded Blue – Ships to Europe from the Netherlands

Launched in 2001, Kuyichi is the first organic denim brand. The brand uses a high-proportion of eco-friendly materials including organic cotton, which cuts carbon emissions by 60% compared to conventional cotton. In addition to being eco-friendly, the Dutch brand is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, allowing the brand to support its suppliers in creating fair working conditions for all its employees. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the brand has been fairly outspoken in taking a stand against the fast-paced industry, pushing for an industry-wide fix on the ‘rat race’ that plagues it. You can find the full range in 24/30-34/32 for Women’s.

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Shop Kuyichi.

Shop Kuyichi @ Staiy.

Nudie Jeans

Rated: Good
men's black ethical denim jeans by sustainable brand nudie jeans

Slim Fit Jeans – Ships internationally from Sweden

Nudie Jeans gives you the naked truth about denim! The brand’s use of eco-friendly materials such as 100% organic cotton limits the amount of chemicals, water, and wastewater used in production. These sustainable jeans are made in lightweight, super-stretch jet black denim, making them the perfect pair of black jeans for your wardrobe. Note the brand does use wool and leather without stating its sources. Find most jeans in 32/30-38/34 (Men’s).

See the rating.

Shop Nudie Jeans.

Shop Nudie Jeans @ Farfetch.

Shop Nudie Jeans Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.


Rated: Good
man wearing asket's raw sustainable jeans

The Raw Denim – Ships internationally from Sweden

Asket’s Raw Denim Jean has been engineered – from the first thread, to the last button – to shape after your body, fade with wear and mold according to your everyday life. Cut from a rigid 13oz Japanese heritage raw denim and sewn to perfection in Italy, there’s no garment that will age as well as this. The slim and regular jeans can be found in sizes 28/30-36/34 (Men’s).

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Shop Asket.

E.L.V. Denim

Rated: Good
sustainable jeans by E.L.V. Denim

Mid Blue/Light Blue Contrast Straight Leg Jean – Ships internationally from the UK

E.L.V. Denim is a zero-waste vegan denim brand that takes stocks of old discarded denim and transforms it into modern and sophisticated jeans. These gorgeous contrast jeans can add a unique twist to your outfit. Aside from how great they look on you, they also boast a low carbon footprint as all products are produced in East London using local factories and ateliers. You can find the full range in 25-30.

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Shop E.L.V. Denim @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop E.L.V. Denim.


Rated: Great
Armedangels #detoxdenim black trouser

MAIRAA Mom Jeans – Ships internationally from Germany

Armedangels is a German brand that has broken down the denim creation process to #detoxdenim. The brand curates its denim from 100% organic cotton, dyes with artificial indigo containing no toxic solvents, and lightens denim with modern laser and ozone washing technologies to keep volatile chlorine-based bleach salts out of the environment and factory workers’ lungs. This PETA approved vegan cropped jean is a staple that can be elevated or dressed down in any season. Armedangels’ products are available in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Armedangels.

Shop Armedangels @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Armedangels @ Earthkind.

Shop Armedangels @ Veneka.


Rated: Great
woman wearing black sustainable jeans by unspun

Offline Jeans – Ships internationally from the US

unspun is an American brand, creating a denim world that reduces global carbon emissions by 1% through a zero-inventory and low waste process. Its product sizing is totally customisable to ensure you always find the perfect fit.

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Shop unspun.

Opera Campi

Rated: Good
man wearing dark blue hemp trousers

Hemp Denim Jeans – Ships internationally from Italy

Founded in 2017, Italian brand Opera Campi creates premium quality garments from locally-sources raw materials. By using a balanced approach to sustainability the brand makes conscious choices throughout its supply chain and donates 4% of its profits to social causes. Find these cool hemp denim jeans in sizes 3XS to 3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Opera Campi.


Rated: Good

High Waisted Upcycled Embroidered & Patched Jeans – Ships internationally from the UK

Fanfare is a UK-based sustainable brand that creates modern, contemporary women's and unisex clothing with a purpose that aims to bring change to the fashion industry. Find most items in UK sizes 6 to 18.

See the rating.

Shop Fanfare @ Earthkind.

Shop Fanfare.

Kings of Indigo

Rated: Good
Man in Kings of Indigo dark wash ethical jean

John Eco Xavier Light – Ships internationally from the Netherlands

Kings of Indigo is a Dutch brand that positions itself as a pioneer in the ever-changing sustainable fashion world, constantly exploring how to reduce its impact on the planet and people. The brand’s five pillars of sustainability include planet friendly materials, water use, social responsibility, transport, and waste consciousness. Made from organic cotton, recycled cotton, and elastane, the John jeans are a low impact Peta-approved vegan jeans. Find most jeans ins sizes 28/32-40/36.

See the rating.

Shop Kings of Indigo @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Kings of Indigo.


Rated: Good
Man in Outerknown black wash ethical jeans

Ambassador Slim Fit – Ships internationally from the US

For people and planet, Outerknown is an American brand that designs its men and women’s S.E.A. jeans with organic cotton. Each pair is sewn in a Fair Trade Certified™ facility and is responsibly crafted with a lifetime guarantee of free replacement or repair. Even better, when your S.E.A. jeans are ready to retire, send them back and Outerknown will up-cycle them! Although the brand responsibly sources its eco-friendly materials, it does use wool and exotic animal hair. You can find the full range in sizes 28-38 (inseam 30-34).

See the rating.

Shop Outerknown.


Rated: Great
Woman in dark wash ethical fringe trousers

The Charley | Midnight Cowboy – Ships internationally from the US

Love the & Other Stories vibe, but hate their fast fashion business model? Boyish has all the quality, fit, and authentic washes that you could want without the harmful practices. The Charley is the brand’s take on rigid, high-waisted, wide leg jeans. These black stone wash bad boys are made out of 70% organic cotton and 30% GRS certified recycled cotton, saving the beautiful people on this planet 563 days of drinking water. Yes, please! Find most products in sizes 22-32.

See the rating.

Shop Boyish.

Shop Boyish @ Reve en Vert.

Rudy Jude

Rated: Good
Rudy Jude ethical Molly Jeans

Toddler/Kid Molly Jean – Ships within the US

Matching outfits for the whole family? Absolutely. Naturally dyed, organic, and crafted in the US, Rudy Jude offers a sustainable alternative to the excessive waste produced by children’s clothing. It uses a high proportion of eco-friendly materials including organic cotton, and limits the amount of chemicals used in production. Although the brand primarily focuses on toddler and children’s wear, they also make adult wear so the whole family can look good. Find the whole collection in sizes 2y to 8y.

See the rating.

Shop Rudy Jude.


Rated: Good
Woman in Jeanerica pink sand pant

PW008 Pyramid Fit Beige – Ships internationally from Sweden

Jeanerica is a Swedish brand that balances style and functionality in their contemporary denim commodities. Pyramid is a super high rise jean featuring a straight thigh and boot cut from the knee with a stone-wash for a vintage look. Classic lines with a modern flair, these eco-friendly jeans are made from 92% organic cotton and 6% recycled polyester, significantly reducing their carbon footprint. You can find the full range in 24/32-31/34.

See the rating.

Shop Jeanerica.


Rated: Good

Everyday Denim – Ships internationally from Portugal

Portuguese brand ISTO.’s mandate is simple: create clothes to transcend the seasons and work as staple items in your wardrobe all year round. It has one single collection and pursues quality over quantity to try and make its items permanently available. It uses organic and natural materials, and is incredibly transparent in showing you the true cost of your clothes when you go to purchase a piece for your wardrobe. The range is available in XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop ISTO..

Levi’s (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Pre-Owned Denim – Ships internationally

Levi's is committed to producing quality, hard-wearing products, and it continues to make strides with regards to environmentally sustainable production methods. This includes its Waste<Less range, made from 20 percent post-consumer waste.

See the rating.

Shop Levi's Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

G-Star Raw (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Pre-Owned G Star Raw Denim – Ships internationally

G-Star Raw has been setting some good worker empowerment initiatives in its supply chain in the past few years. It’s a member of the Better Cotton Initiative and it has a Code of Conduct that covers all of the ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles!

See the rating.

Shop G-Star Raw Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Ethical Denim


Citizens of Humanity

Rated: Good
Woman in sustainable shorts by Citizens of Humanity brand

Kristen High Rise Short in Smoke – Ships internationally from the US

Citizens of Humanity is an LA based premium denim brand devoted to producing the highest quality denim without compromising people and the environment. The Kristen Short exudes this mission, as well as the brand’s elevated style and sophisticated ease. By renovating a classic warm weather staple, not only will the short look good on you, it will also keep the Earth looking good too with its reduced ecological footprint. Find the full collection in sizes 23-33.

See the rating.

Shop Citizens of Humanity @ Farfetch.

People Tree

Rated: Great

Zahara Lightweight Denim Shorts – Ships internationally from the UK


A blue Fair Trade long sleeve jumpsuit by People Tree.

People Tree EU – Site-wide

Consciously made clothing in soft organic cotton and sustainable TENCEL™. From dresses to tops, underwear to denim, everything is Fair Trade. Feel-good fashion that looks great, too. Exclusive 15% off with code GOODOONYOU15. (Available in the EU only) (Ends: 15 AUG)

Checkout code: GOODOONYOU15
Shop now

Sustainable fashion pioneer and leader People Tree is a seriously ethical brand and one of our favourites. The brand uses eco-friendly materials and addresses labour risks by adopting the Fairtrade International - Small Producers Organisations Code of Conduct. Find most products in UK sizes 6-18.

See the rating.

Shop People Tree UK.

Shop People Tree EU.

Shop People Tree @ Wearwell.


Nobody Denim

Rated: Good
Nobody Denim black and white pin stripe mini skirt in ethical denim

Franklin Denim Skirt – Ships internationally from Australia

Nobody Denim has a longstanding commitment to ethical manufacturing principles and offers a unique vision of responsible design. This update to the mini in a sophisticated fabrication can be a show-stopper when paired with the matching Franklin Jacket. 100% cotton and ethically made in Melbourne, Nobody Denim is making sure that ‘nobody’ has to sacrifice ethics for style. Find most products in 25-32.

See the rating.

Shop Nobody Denim @ Farfetch.

Yes And

Rated: Good

Ashley Denim Paper Bag Waist Short – Ships internationally from the US

Yes And aims to banish the stigma that sustainable fashion has to sacrifice style, quality, fit, colour, comfort, or price. With this US-based brand you can actually have it all, and more: it is certified organic, low-impact dyed, and ethically made. You can find most items in sizes XS to XL.

See the rating.

Shop Yes And.



Rated: Good
two images of shorter washed black jacket with black foil by Venim

Shorter Washed Black Jacket with Foil – Ships internationally from the US

US-based VENIM is a denim brand that is making timeless pieces for the next generation of consumers. The founders’ partnership is rooted in a shared passion for impeccable craftsmanship, ethical manufacturing, and unapologetically individualistic designs. Find it in sizes 1-3 (XS-2XL).

See the rating.


Organic Basics

Rated: Great
3 people wearing organic basics dark blue denim jacket

Circular Denim Jacket – Ships internationally from Denmark

Organic Basics offers high-quality sustainable fashion basics for men and women in organic materials. It also recently launched its first sustainable denim collection! The Denmark-based brand puts sustainable thinking at the centre of everything—it only chooses fabrics that care for our environment, and only ever partners with factories that care about their impact. Organic Basics clothes are available in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Organic Basics @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop Organic Basics.

Whimsy + Row

Rated: Good
woman wearing whimsy and row denim jacket and jeans

Jordan Jacket – Ships internationally from the US

Whimsy + Row is an eco-conscious lifestyle brand born out of a love for quality goods and sustainable practices. Since 2014, its mission has been to provide ease and elegance for the modern, sustainable woman. By limiting each garment to short runs, Whimsy + Row utilises deadstock fabric, reduces packaging waste, and takes care of precious water resources. Find most products in XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Whimsy + Row.

Shop Whimsy + Row @ Earthkind.


Rated: Great
Woman in chic kowtow ethical denim jacket

North Jacket – Ships internationally from New Zealand

Kowtow designs elegant and timeless womenswear, using organic, fair trade cotton, as well as non-toxic dyes. This straight-fit jacket is made from mid-weight 100% organic cotton and is finished with OEKO-TEX certified nickel-free tacks made in Germany. This staple piece doubles as a statement, elevating any outfit you pair it with. Find most products in sizes 2XS to XL.

See the rating.

Shop Kowtow @ Veneka.

Shop Kowtow.

The R Collective

Rated: Great

Monge Jacket – Ships internationally from Hong Kong

Designed in collaboration with designer Jesse Lee, this upcycled denim jacket transforms Levi’s aged inventory and irregular and leftover samples in a creative design effort to prolong denim’s lifespan. Made from three pairs of dark indigo 511 slim jeans, this oversized denim jacket boasts a fresh, vintage look.

See the rating.

Shop The R Collective.

Infantium Victoria

Rated: Great

Hemp Denim Jacket – Ships internationally from Germany

Infantium Victoria offers beautiful vegan luxury for all ages. This German brand scores 'Great' across the board! Its products are certified by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and it sells previously owned products to minimise textile waste.

See the rating.

Shop Infantium Victoria.

Shop Infantium Victoria @ LVR Sustainable.



Rated: Good

Karrie Jumpsuit – Ships internationally from Australia

A pioneer of independent Australian design, Elk was founded in Melbourne in 2004. Elk creates bi-annual collections that are informed by a design ethos where simplicity and sustainability meet innovation. Find most items in AU sizes 6-18.

See the rating.

Shop Elk.


Rated: Good

Cassie Unisex Coverall in Denim Chambray – Ships internationally from the US

Altar is a US-based boutique that specialises in alternative and custom fashion, apothecary, and gifts. The brand celebrates independent manufacturers and artists from across North America, with a focus on the stories that are woven into their work. Its clothing brand, Altar Houseline, is proudly made in America using deadstock materials and serves size gradations from size S to 6XL.

See the rating.

Shop Altar.

Lucy & Yak

Rated: Good
Girl in light wash ethical dungaree by Lucy & Yak

‘Atlas’ Organic Denim Dungarees – Ships internationally from the UK

Independent, handmade, and ethical, we love Lucy & Yak’s playful take on the denim dungaree. With a range for both men and women, this UK brand will brighten up your day. Find most products in 2XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Lucy & Yak.



Rated: Great

Cut Top – Ships internationally from the US

If you’ve been looking for a gorgeous vintage piece that embodies the free spirit of the 60’s and 70’s, look no further. Made by hand in their workshop in downtown LA, Triarchy’s Indigo Fringe Jacket is quite a showstopper. The brand’s Atelier Denim collection repurposes denim into new, sustainable luxury using hardware made of nickel-free recycled metal sheets, and labels made of recycled leather. Triarchy’s production system uses 85% recycled water by consistently reusing the ‘thick indigo laden sludge’ that unmonitored factories dump into water systems. You can find the full range in XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Triarchy.

Seventy + Mochi

Rated: Good

Agnes Blouse – Ships internationally from the UK

Seventy + Mochi is a  UK-based, conscious and kind denim brand making seasonless, long-lasting denim using recycled materials, kinder production methods and fashion out of waste.

See the rating.

Shop Seventy + Mochi.

Accessories and Shoes


Rated: Good

Denim Tote Bag – Ships internationally from the Netherlands

Unrecorded is an independent clothing brand from the Netherlands that represents a new wave of unisex brands that are rebelling against the nature of fast fashion. Unrecorded is passionate about style, and produces apparel using eco-friendly materials. Its range includes items that are all year round essentials suitable for any wardrobe, available in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Unrecorded.

BeeKeeper Parade

Rated: Great

The Denim Drive Royal BeeKeeper Backpack – Ships internationally from Australia

BeeKeeper Parade creates backpacks, iPad cases, and other fashion accessories out of discarded fabric waste including customer-sent old or unworn shirts. The brand works with a factory in Cambodia ensuring safe and fair working conditions and a living wage. BeeKeeper Parade also works to give back to the community. For every backpack sold, a Cambodian child is able to attend an English class for a year. Likewise, for every tablet case sold, a child’s family receives solar-powered energy.

See the rating. 

Shop BeeKeeper Parade. 


Rated: Good
black denim sneakers by noah

Michele Denim Sneakers – Ships internationally from Germany

NOAH creates cruelty-free and 100% vegan shoes and accessories. This German’s brand high-quality and long-lasting shoes are hand-crafted in Italy, using a small proportion of eco-friendly material. Trendy and environmentally friendly at the same time: this is what these denim sneakers stand for with their organic cotton denim material! Find them in EU sizes 35-42.

See the rating.

Shop NOAH.

Shop NOAH @ Immaculate Vegan.

Et voilà! A whole assemblage of the latest and greatest in the ethical and sustainable denim industry that will hopefully inspire you to find your Goldilocks. Happy hunting!

Learn more about the impacts of denim in our material guide.

Editor's note

Feature image via MUD Jeans, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search thousands of rated brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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