Denim is the obvious choice for boy’s clothes as it is hardwearing, easy to wash, doesn’t really need ironing and is inexpensive to buy. However, I am sorry to say folks that it is probably the worst fabric in terms of impact on the environmental and people. Standard denim production is a dirty business that consumes vast amounts of water and highly toxic chemicals. Treatments such as sand blasting are particularly noxious leading to lethal silicosis in many workers. On average in the UK we each own around seven pairs of jeans and each of those produces 915lbs of carbon dioxide during it’s average lifespan of 4 years. If we all bought better denim and wore them longer just imagine how much carbon, water and nasty processes that would eradicate!
Slow Denim Brands
However, you will be pleased to know that there are some ‘Slow Denim’ brands out there who are working hard at sustainability and minimizing their environmental and ethical impact. Nudie and Mud Jeans, who I have mentioned before, both use organic cotton and have a repair and recycle ethos. There are plenty of others trying to clean up the image of denim who are worth a mention too, such as Tuffs, Blackhorse Lane Atelier and Story Mfg. A special mention goes to Monkee Genes as they are based near where I grew up! These brands employ a short supply chain and produce locally in order to guarantee standards and sustainability.
Hiut Denim, based in Wales, make raw selvedge jeans which are traditionally worn in by the owner for a year before washing. Although this may seem extreme to the average consumer even high street stores including H&M and Topshop have seen success with their own selvedge ranges. Hiut’s ‘raw’ denim has a fierce following and are a must have for denim aficionados. Fortunately many of us are willing to fork out more for premium denim jeans, especially with such ethical guarantees so there is hope for the denim sector as a whole to become kinder and greener.
Market leader Levis Strauss are also doing various innovative things within the industry too. Working with Aquafil they use nylon waste such as discarded fishing nets to create a new material that they now incorporate into their denim. Textile waste is also converted into renewable fibres that go into their new 511 jeans which are made using Levi’s water<less method which uses 96% less water.
In terms of kids clothes, there aren’t that many who do organic denim. Frugi and Mini Rodini were the main ones I could find. Hopefully as sustainability becomes a more accepted notion we will see more organic and slow denim become available in the sector.
Do you know of any other denim brands doing amazing things or have you tried any of the brands mentioned? I would love to hear what you think to help inform my own future denim purchasing. We have sampled our own organic denim range but they are not yet available to buy. However, you can check out our other organic cotton kids garments here that are ethically made in Britain.
#SlowDenim #Levis #HiutDenim