Sustainability and eco-friendly have been used so much that it’s hard to decipher which brands are sustainable denim brands, and which ones are “greenwashing” AKA using those buzzwords as marketing tools that have zero bearing on how the fabrics are created and how the workers are treated.
What makes a sustainable denim brand?
Sustainable denim has grown from one or two small brands attempting to create eco-friendly clothing to a wide and competitive marketplace. There are young brands that have committed themselves to showcasing a transparent supply chain and production system while using organic and repurposed or recycled materials. There are also established heritage brands that have started the slow process of switching over to a more sustainable method of manufacturing denim with less waste.
When trying to figure out if a denim brand is really a sustainable denim brand, you have to start delving into what materials they’re using, where the materials are being sourced, and of course, how they create theIR goods. Finding all that information can be like falling into a rabbit hole; you keep tripping over facts and falling into so many different directions that you get dizzy. That’s where we come in. We’ve done the research and created a list of sustainable denim brands that make jeans that you can go rock climbing in, do a birdie with, or just laze around the house in. Don’t be surprised to see a couple of heritage brands on this list as well as some very well-tailored newbies.
Ready for the best sustainable denim brands? Take a look at our list below!
1. Mavi Jeans
Almost since its inception in 1991, premium denim brand Mavi has been involved with a variety of charitable and ecological causes. And since 2020, Mavi has worked out a global initiative to launch a completely vegan collection as well as reduce waste throughout their company. They’ve now increased their sustainable wash processes by 54% and are also using laser technology to cut down on waste too. They’ve rolled out a sustainable collection for men and women whose jeans are created with organic fibers, recycled fibers and eco-conscious designs. The men’s jeans come in a variety of washes and fits.
As for our pick from Mavi, we really like their loose-cut men’s jeans done in a dark rinse. They’ve been made with a mix of recycled fibers and a touch of stretch.
Coalatree first started out as a Colorado-based organic farm, before becoming an eco-friendly, organic, and sustainably crafted outdoor gear and clothing company whose factories are certified by Bluesign. They’re involved in a variety of programs that help sustain nature. Not too long ago, we covered the launch of their joggers that were made from recycled coffee grounds. Once again, they’ve turned coffee into something wearable. They’ve just launched jeans made from Fair Wear Bluesign cotton that’s made from recycled materials, plastic, and coffee grinds. They were created with a waterless dye method to cut down on waste and pollution.
We’re super impressed with Coalatree’s Decaf Denim. These jeans have anti-microbial properties, a secret zippered compartment, four-way stretch and block UV rays. Heck, they’re even sturdy enough to wear when rock climbing. They come in either black or dark blue and in two silhouettes: slim or relaxed.
AG Jeans has spent years improving their production and waste systems. In 2016, they introduced solar panels at their headquarters and factory. In 2019, AG Jeans installed water filtration systems in both their US and Mexico factories, which means that 100% of the water used to create jeans is recycled water. For this past Earth Day, they launched their Jean of Tomorrow Collection. The three-piece collection is comprised of a unisex denim jacket and a pair of men’s and women’s jeans that are completely biodegradable.
From their Jeans of Tomorrow collection, we wanted to showcase the men’s Tellis Jeans. Made with a mix of hemp, cotton and lyocell that’s been created via an eco-friendly production method and is finished off with plant-based threading. These jeans are as stated above, 100% biodegradable. Style-wise, they’re a five-pocket, tapered leg, mid-rise jeans. The jean’s hang tags are made with a seed paper, that when planted, will grow wildflowers.
4. Revtown Jeans
Revtown was started by two ex-Under Armour executives who wanted to create premium denim that moved like a performance pant and was as comfortable as athletic pants. Their jeans and khakis can be worn in the office or on the links. Sustainability is the core of their business. Their clothing is manufactured in an Italian green mill and 100% of the waste is turned into denim yarn or insulation for the local housing market. Their fabrics are made with BCI-certified cotton, and the denim’s dye is sourced from orange peels, shrimp and nutshells. That process uses 50% less water and 70% less chemicals than traditional dyes. Revtown Jeans calls their Italian-made denim Decade Denim and it has four-way stretch, too. The clothing is made in a clean and safe factory in Guatemala.
The company offers seven different types of jeans: Sharp (slim), Automatic (relaxed), Taper (skinny), Khaki jeans, lightweight jeans, selvage jeans and tech jeans (can be worn when playing golf). One of the cool things about Revtown is that when viewing their jeans and clothing online, you can switch models so that you’re looking at someone whose build is close to yours.
We highlighted Revtown’s Automatic Jeans. Made with their signature Decade Denim, it has a relaxed fit through the seat and thighs and is straight cut from the knee to the ankle. This pair of jeans comes in black, rinse indigo, wash indigo, faded blue, gray and in a khaki style.
Devil-Dog Dungarees believes in transparent sourcing and uses company owned factories that are vertically integrated. While the company has been using recycled materials in their jeans for a while, they are in the process of creating jeans that combine sustainable materials and eco-friendly productions that will be combined with their current processes.
The Devil-Dog Dungarees Athletic Fit Jeans – Ash are made with performance stretch, so they’re never constricting. They designed to have extra room in the thigh and leg, five pockets and the bandana pocket lining is made with Repreve, fabric created from recycled materials.
Iconic denim brand Wrangler is introducing green jeans, and no, that’s not referring to their color. As the company works towards a more sustainable future — they’re planning on using 100% sustainable cotton, 100% renewable energy, and 100% clean chemistry by 2025, and 50% water reduction by 2010 — they’re rolling out jeans and pants made with sustainable materials and means.
Wrangler has created three different styles for their first “Green Jeans” collection, and we thought their bootcut was the top pick. Made with recycled cotton and hemp, and recycled hardware, these bootcut jeans have a modern slim fit that widens slightly at the knee on down, allowing these eco-friendly jeans to be paired with boots.
Duer uses natural-based materials like cotton and plant-derived Tencel to create fabrics for their clothing. By using those materials, fewer chemicals are needed, while the water used is recycled. Their fabrics inhibit bacterial growth, so upkeep is minimal, and the company’s denim repair program allows buyers to get repairs for free, lessening the chances that those jeans will end up in a landfill. Duer’s future initiatives include using a low-impact dye technique to lessen water usage, working with more organic cotton, and vegan leather will be used for trim instead of leather. They work with small factories that have sterling reputations for treating their workers well. When Duer ships products to consumers, they make sure that it’s carbon neutral.
As for our pick from Duer, we really their performance jeans. The Duer Performance Denim Relaxed comes in four classic shades and two seasonal hues. Made for an athletic body, these jeans have a relaxed fit through the hips and thighs then taper down the leg. They move like performance pants they’re constructed with a combination of cotton, Cool Max fibers and lycra. The Cool Max threads wick moisture away from the body when it’s hot out and insulates your body when it’s cold.
Everlane’s known for their transparency, sustainability, construction and style, and they have so many fans that people can get a little cult-ish when discussing their stuff. Their denim is manufactured in a LEED factory that recycles 98% of its water. Everlane uses organic cotton that is farmed in milled in Turkey using a dye method that reduces water usage by 55%.
We wanted to highlight their Uniform jeans, which is part of Everlane’s collection of everyday and necessary basics, and they cleverly named it the “Uniform Collection.” These jeans are backed by the brand’s Uniform 365-day guarantee. If there’s an issue with the quality or performance of the jeans, they will be replaced for free. These five-pocket jeans are minimally styled so they’ll last longer than the latest trend. Made with a combination of stretch and cotton, they move with you.