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7 Sustainable Denim Brands You'll Want To Shop

Clothing

More than just your classic blue jeans

The unfortunate truth behind your favorite pair of jeans? They're absolutely terrible for our planet.

While it's a well-known fact that fashion is one of the most polluting industries on the planet—coming in second to big oil—it's not as well known that denim production is one of the biggest culprits of all. It can take an average of 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of jeans. An alarming amount of rivers and lakes in China, Bangladesh, and India are contaminated by the waste from the toxic chemicals used to dye denim. Not to mention, many of the workers in overseas factories producing denim are subject to these toxic chemicals and other unsafe working conditions.

With that said, if we're going to continue to shop for denim, as consumers, we need to be shopping smart and support the brands that are working to shake things up. Whether they're producing low-impact denim—created at ethical mills with minimal water and power usage—or creating new garments from deconstructed and reconstructed vintage and deadstock denim, we rounded up seven sustainable denim brands to get to know.

Cool and contemporary designs that are good for the planet? How could we resist?

Ksenia Schnaider

Photo courtesy of Ksenia Schnaider

Even if you're not familiar with Ukranian designer Ksenia Schnaider, chances are you're familiar with her work—particularly, the viral pant-short hybrids, called "demi-denims," that were seen on the likes of Bella Hadid back in 2017.

The whole idea behind the label, run by Ksenia and her husband Anton, is to create something new out of old denim—deconstructing old denim pieces, washing, re-working, and reconstructing into demi-denims, denim "fur" coats, and more. While sustainable fashion isn't booming in Eastern Europe like it is in the U.S., Schnaider hopes to change this by bringing awareness to her customers.

To further the brand's sustainability efforts, the design duo turned its Kyiv-based studio into a denim "laboratory," where they do all of the washing and redesigning in one place, minimizing waste, water, and energy footprints.

Boyish

Photo courtesy of Boyish

L.A.-based denim label Boyish knows how bad jeans are for the environment, and that's why it aims for just about every aspect of the brand to be ethical and sustainable.

The brand uses eco-friendly practices during the developmental and manufacturing processes, using only one-third of the amount of water typically needed to create a pair of jeans. All cutting waste and water are recycled, and about 20 percent of the fabrics it uses are dead stock. The brand also only works with factories with fair and safe working conditions and sustainable and transparent suppliers—making sure that all are located close by, in order to cut carbon emissions.

CIE Denim

Photo courtesy of CIE Denim

NYC-based Cie Denim is the brainchild of designer Kelcie Schofield, a stylist who turned her love for vintage shopping into her very own sustainable denim brand. Each one-of-a-kind pair of jeans is created from a vintage pair that Schofield handpicks from various New York vintage shops, deconstructs, and then reconstructs into something new and unique.

While the brand is most known for its upside down jeans design, you'll also find an assortment of paneled acid wash tie-dyed styles and upside down shorts. While its current offering may be on the smaller side, Schofield plans to one day expand Cie Denim into a full lifestyle brand—one that sticks to its sustainable roots.

Warp+Weft

Photo courtesy of Warp+Weft

As stated earlier, it can take up to 1,800 gallons of water to create just one pair of jeans, which is a pretty scary fact. That's where inclusive denim brand Warp+Weft comes in, creating a truly low-impact system for producing jeans at its family-owned ethical mill—keeping it under 10 gallons per jean, and then recycling 98 percent of it back.

The best part of all? Every pair is under $100, which proves you don't have to break the bank for a truly sustainable pair of jeans.

AndAgain

Photo courtesy of AndAgain

AndAgain is a NYC-based sustainable denim brand founded by Morgan Young and Greg Harder. Every single one of the brand's made-to-order pieces is created from recycled post-consumer denim, which results in almost no water usage during production.

While you'll find a variety of reconstructed jeans and patchwork denim outerwear, the brand also focuses on a variety of artist collaborations, offering pieces such as hand-embroidered denim tops and digitally-embroidered denim bomber jackets. It's also begun expanding beyond denim, introducing sustainable French terry and organic cotton into the mix.

Re/Done

Photo courtesy of Re/Done

If you're a fan of vintage Levi's, then you'll love sustainable denim brand Re/Done. Each pair is made from a pair of vintage Levi's sourced from rag houses all across the country.

While each deconstructed and then reconstructed jean is washed twice, the brand has gotten its process down to just about 50 gallons of water, which is about the same amount as if you washed your jeans at home.

Blanche

Photo courtesy of Blanche

Copenhagen-based contemporary denim brand Blanche feels that corporate social responsibility in today's world—especially within the fashion industry—is a necessity, which is why it aims to be as sustainable and ethical as possible on all levels.

Not only does the brand focus on working with sustainable materials, such as deadstock fabrics and Global Organic Textile Standard-approved materials, but it also follows a number of other measures to ensure it's as safe for the environment, and for workers, as possible. It ensures that each of its suppliers follows its manual of guidelines for reducing energy and water usage, carbon footprint, and more, while also staying as "close to home" as possible to reduce transportation and allow for easy factory auditing. The brand has even created a consumer impact page for its customers on how to reduce a garment's environmental footprint, including washing and recycling tips.

She considers herself "one of the luckiest kids on the face of the earth"

Dani Okon, NYLON's associate creative director of video, sat down with her great-aunt, May Okon, to talk about their shared experiences—despite vastly different time frames—living as queer women in New York City. Prior to retirement, May was a journalist for the New York Daily News, having first entered the male-dominated workforce when "the boys were all at war." And, of course, she absolutely killed it. Her only regret? "Retiring at 55," she tells Dani, joking, "Who the hell knew I was gonna live to 100?"

Upon retiring, she moved out to the Hamptons with her partner and bought a home. If she had to do it all over, May says "there are a lot of things I wouldn't do," but she still considers herself "one of the luckiest kids on the face of the earth." Get to know May in the video, above.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Marlene Colburn and Naima Green
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by: Alexandra Hsie
Camera: Gretta Wilson + Katie Sadler
Edited by: Madeline Stedman

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Here's how they're making sure it doesn't happen

Lauren Morelli, the showrunner and executive producer for the new Netflix show Tales of the City, is fostering a space where multiple queer realities can be shown on-screen. She spoke with one of the cast members, trans actor Garcia (who plays Jake Rodriguez on the show), and, in the video above, they explore why it's wrong to treat queer stories as representative of the entire community. Tokenization is something that they both want to avoid at all costs, and they're on the right track.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
Naima Green and Marlene Colburn
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
Shot by Gretta Wilson + Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson

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In the video above, get a sense of why Smith created a genderless store, and see how important it is for people like Jones to have a space where they don't feel criticized for dressing like they want.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Naima Green and Marlene Colburn
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
Shot by Charlotte Prager + Dani Okon
Edited by Gretta Wilson

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We put the two activists in conversation

Marlene Colburn, one of the founders of the Dyke March, and Naima Green, an artist currently working on a project and archive called Pur·suit, which will document queer people of all identities, agree that it's really hard to find lesbian spaces that aren't bars. Just as hard, it seems, is to find lesbian representation that isn't white. In the video above, the two talk about how they are creating space for queer people and what that looks like within two different generations.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
Shot by Dani Okon + Charlotte Prager
Edited by Charlotte Prager

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