It’s tortuously challenging to quantify just how damaging the fashion industry is for the environment. It can be as broad as something like designing with a controversial material (furs, plastics, etc.) and as micro as the packaging that companies ship their products in. It’s complex and dizzying at times, but that’s further cause to continue talking about it.
Today’s eco-topic of choice is denim. Denim is an environmental problem child. “A standard jean can use up to 1,800 gallons (almost 7,000 liters) of water to make just one pair,” Boyish Founder Jordan Nodarse tells COOLS. That’s a staggering amount of H20 and as you’ll learn shortly, is way more than we actually have to use to create a quality pair of jeans.
Ahead, hear from three denim founders who implement sustainable and environmentally-conscious practices and why the next pair of jeans you buy should be eco-friendly.
This Los Angeles-based denim label considers jean production to be at the forefront of pollution as it pertains to the fashion industry. They use recycled cotton and a machine system called Tonello All in One. “[These] systems utilize vapor spray and ozone gas in an all-encompassing controlled machine,” Nodarse says. “In addition to reducing our water usage, we also recycle the water we do use.”
These machines are especially impactful because they use 80% less water. Additionally, instead of bleach, environmentally-friendly oxygen is used. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also use “all biodegradable, micro-plastic free, heavy metal free, and chlorine free chemicals,” Nodarse continues.
“AYR stands for All Year Round. We’re all about making a long-term investment in women of the future. There won’t be any future if we don’t start protecting the world we’ve inherited today,” CEO and Co-founder Maggie Winter tells COOLS. The Los Angeles-based brand’s Aloe Jeans are produced using one cup of water. That wasn’t a typo.
“With the Aloe, we wanted to engineer a jean that uses recycled cotton in the fabric and is ‘washed’ with ozone gas instead of the typical 1,000 gallons of water per cycle,” Creative Director and Co-founder Jac Cameron explains. “In the ‘wash’ cycle the ozone gas strips off the indigo revealing a brighter lighter shade, using literally one cup of water. The water is then extracted post-wash and filtered to make a cup of tea or water the succulent garden outside of the facility.”
Another component that’s potentially toxic to the environment are the dyes used in production. Denim brand AMO uses a “Pure Indigo Dye that’s free of the harmful chemicals and fixing agents commonly used in the production process,” Co-founder Kelly Urban shares with COOLS. The team also reworks styles to transform “otherwise landfill-bound items into something new.” Deadstock fabric, production shrinkage blankets, and even sewn jeans that might have a flaw or two are all used, which results in less waste.
AMO is also based in Los Angeles and 100% of their clothing is created there. “All of our cutters, sewers, wash houses, etc. are within a 10-mile drive from our headquarters. This allows us to be extremely hands-on with our production but also enables us to reduce our carbon footprint, as we aren’t importing finished goods from overseas factories,” Urban says.