TOP SUSTAINABLE DENIM BRANDS

Shopping for sustainable jeans doesn't have to be such a struggle
Given that jeans are such a staple in our wardrobes, you'll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't own a pair. So, why is finding the perfect jeans such a minefield? Not only is it difficult to get any that fit that are also the perfect style, we are now adding the sustainability practices of denim brands into the mix.
100% organic cotton is often the best way to go when looking for sustainable jeans, for a few reasons: organic cotton is more durable, pesticide free and uses less water than regular cotton. Plus, using 100% of one material makes the recycling of the jeans easier at the end of their life. Not to mention, 100% cotton jeans just feel so much sturdier, you really feel like they're going to last a lifetime.

Sustainability doesn't just stop at the materials, though. The treatment of the workers also needs to be sustainable, i.e. ethical. Workers need to be paid living wages and treated with basic human rights which, unfortunately, isn't common practice in fast fashion.

So, to help you navigate this denim obstacle course, we've dug out the brands that are doing it right.
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Location: UK
Price range: £
CLARA'S VINTAGE
Second-hand is always sustainable because you're reviving clothes that are no longer needed by someone else. Whatever your size, you will not be leaving Clara's Vintage empty-handed as they have the most varied selection of vintage Levi's we've ever seen. Not only that but the jeans are amazing value; £28 for a pair of vintage condition, classic Levi's? Show me the checkout! You won't be wriggling around trying to get them on either because the seller offers detailed sizing descriptions. Plus, they have the nicest reviews. How many boxes can one Depop shop tick?
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Location: Italy
Price range: €
DRESSCODE VINTAGE STORE
With summer approaching, it's time for shorts to resurface and Dresscode Vintage have a large selection of second-hand Levi denim shorts, and jeans, for both women and men. We know that shopping second-hand online can be a bit of a risk, but they have your back because they always include detailed measurements, so you're not left stuck with some lovely denim that just doesn't fit. If you're looking for denim on their page, make sure to keep scrolling as they have a selection of other items but, rest assured, the scroll is worth it.
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Location: Germany
Price range: €
HONEST BASICS
At a very reasonable price, Honest Basics offer a small selection of black and blue jeans. Whilst they do use other materials in their jeans except for cotton, the materials used are often sustainable; Tencel and recycled polyester to mention a couple. As a brand that uses GOTS-certified cotton and production processes to reduce environmental impact, they're definitely one to check out for your basic jean staples.
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Location: France
Price range: €
TCHIA-L
So, you're looking for some stand-out denim, not the typical Levi 501s, we hear you. Enter: TCHIA-L. TCHIA-L offers unique reworked vintage denim with African materials. These gorgeous colourful patterns are beautifully stitched onto the legs and pockets of classic blue jeans. Oh, and did we mention they do dungarees too? With lovely reviews and detailed sizing, this is another shop that just keeps on giving.
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Location: USA
Price Range: $$
GOLD PENNY VINTAGE
Gold Penny Vintage has an incredibly large selection of vintage Levi's. Levi's are quite difficult to find in shorter leg sizes (being 5'3, I am speaking from experience!) and Gold Penny Vintage have a lot of these shorter leg sizes in stock. Judging by the reviews, they're a great seller with accurate clothing descriptions and lovely customer service.
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Location: The Netherlands
Price Range: €€
MUD JEANS
Mud Jeans offer incredibly sturdy sustainable jeans, jackets and shorts all made from organic and post-consumer recycled cotton. As well as being able to buy a pair of jeans from them, they offer something a little bit different: they have a lease system. Their lease system allows you to pay a monthly fee for 12 months and, after that, you can keep, return, or swap them. Being circular is a big focus point for Mud Jeans because they encourage you to return your jeans to them when you've given them a life and they make new jeans out of your old ones. All the cotton is GOTS certified and they have a short supply chain meaning they can build long-lasting relationships with their suppliers. Their supply chain is also very transparent, and they have 4 main supply partners – 3 based in Spain and 1 based in Tunisia – who are audited and receive fair wages.

Check out these jeans, they're made from 40% post-consumer recycled cotton and 60% organic cotton. Talk about sustainable materials!
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Location: Sweden
Price Range: €€
NUDIE JEANS
Nudie Jeans don't just stick to the colour blue, they offer black jeans and white jeans, too. Plus, you can also pick up denim jackets and skirts while you're at it! Nudie Jeans really are a trailblazing brand: they pay living wages and only use the good cotton: organic, Fairtrade, recycled and GOTS certified. Their actions surrounding preventing water contamination (which is all too common when making jeans) must be highlighted: they only work with suppliers with effective wastewater systems so that no contaminated water reaches the ecosystems. So, they provide all the sustainable jeans you could ever need and stop ecosystems being contaminated? How about that!
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Location: Germany
Price Range: €€
BLEED CLOTHING
Offering the biggest colour selection on our list, Bleed Clothingare the ones to go to if you want more colour from your denim. A personal favourite are the deep red jeans as they make a statement but will still go with much of your wardrobe. As a GOTS-certified brand they're definitely heading in the right direction sustainability-wise.
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Location: UK
Price Range: £££
OUTLAND DENIM
If you're looking for a sustainable blue jean, you won't be disappointed by Outland Denim's selection. Cropped, skinny, straight or mom, you will find it on their website. As well as only using organic cotton, they pay their workers a living wage. Outland Denim seem like a very wholesome company who train their seamstresses in every aspect of the jean-making process and have the chance to progress their careers at the company. They also provide education for their staff in budgeting, women's and infant health, computing skills, human trafficking awareness, English, and self-defence. We could go on about the plethora of sustainable positives about Outland Denim. And, whilst the jeans may not be made of 100% of one material (their jeans are typically organic cotton and elastane), they definitely tick a lot of promising boxes.
Article by Catherine McAteer
Main photograph by Ryan Moreno