A guest post from our amazing sustainability expert, Ani Wells of Simply Suzette

Happy Earth Day friends! And what a weird earth day it is this year, as our day to day reality feels almost like living inside a sci-fi movie. Never before have the streets been so empty, and seeing Google image shots of bare streets in Italy and Spain is almost creepy. But, there are glimmers of hope that have proven how resilient Earth is when we give her a little break. Did you hear about the canals in Venice?! 

Our planet has been given something money can never buy – time. And with this time it is so amazing to see our blue family step up to the plate and lend a helping hand. It is also very encouraging to see how brands are adapting and preparing for the road ahead. But, with stores closed and slashed incomes, consumers are being forced to really consider their choices and what brands they should align with.

Etica Manufacturing

It has been a long few weeks for PR and communication teams, wondering how they should be interacting with their customers, keeping them engaged, while not sounding tone-deaf. The ones who are succeeding are the ones who have developed a sense of community and a ‘we’re in this together’ mentality, without drawing direct attention to the current state of the world. It’s about being human. Having real conversations with consumers and supporting their needs too. Are they struggling with anxiety right now? Maybe your next social posts should include a list of self-care activities for them to peruse rather than a 300k influencer wearing some of your product. Consumers and brands need to have a relational connection, not purely transactional, and creating an authentic brand voice through honesty and transparency is vital! 

Right now, all it’s about is getting real. It’s about having real conversation on a real level, on a human level, with each other, saying: What do people need? Are we relevant to their needs? If so, how can we give them more of that authenticity… that will make a tangible difference to their lives?” – Jefferson Hack of Dazed, to BOF podcast.

When a relationship is formed, brands have the opportunity to take their customer along their products’ lifecycle, mending when it needs, and taking it back to be recycled or brought back into a closed-loop system at the end. So, take this is the time to really engage with your favorite brands and become a loyal customer.

Etica Manufacturing

Tag-Walk did a survey, during confinement, asking their followers what they would like to see brands do more of. The top answer was sustainability, and the second, transparency. Now, this gets me VERY excited. Consumers are being made to reassess their priorities in life and it is extremely motivating to see them actually asking for both sustainability and transparency as a top priority. From the same survey, 62% said they have stopped buying clothing that contains latex or plastic, and 75% said they would pay more for the exact same item if they knew it was sustainable. We’re at a point where sustainable fashion isn’t niche anymore and it is not a trend. With consumer demand for sustainability and the proof that slower production can do wonders for our planet, it is clear that the time is now to put people and the planet first!

“We need to face reality and say: do we really need 150 billion pieces a year manufactured for a population of 7 billion people in the world? Think about it. Fundamentally, bigger companies need to be smaller and more relevant, and smaller and more relevant companies need to be bigger. So we need to bring a balance to all of this because we are going absolutely nowhere.” – Maurizio Donadi

Pushing the world to consume more and more broke us. The industry needs to come up with a new calendar, look at the scale and offering that is being produced, and it needs to stop influencing people to keep consuming and start listening instead.

The whole industry is talking about this presented opportunity to reset and rethink, rather than going back to ‘business as usual.’ And as we have been forced into taking everything online – happy hour zoom drinks yes please – digital solutions have become of major importance. 3D digital design & sampling has gained momentum and will be of huge help to reduce the number of physical iterations needed to get from concept to final product, while also allowing to showcase and sell collections before they go into production. Buying trips alone create 240,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year (Susan Rockefeller of The Times), so this digitalisation not only creates efficiency, but we could say ‘see-ya!’ to waste altogether.

Kings of Indigo Laundry

Automation within factories has also piqued discussion which will help create efficiency, lower costs of sustainable production, and allow production to keep moving if we are to be forced to WFH ever again. It has become crystal clear how delicate the supply chain actually is, so we will also see brands return to more localized production, which in turn will reduce the number of emissions needed for production!

When we all come out of this, we’re going to want to have purpose, and that will show in what we buy. We will not only be more intentional with our purchases, but we will also want to feel good about them. Like we’ve benefited society in some way by buying that pair of organic cotton jeans. Brands will need to give us a reason to buy. So, I have compiled a list of my 10 Top Sustainable Denim Brands that produce with innovative fibers and technology, as well as communicate with an open and honest brand story. If you want to make a difference, make these brands your new best friends.

Amendi

Amendi is a new denim brand that launched last month and has really taken all possible measures in creating a transparent, traceable, and sustainable offering. The coolest thing about them is their Fabrication Facts tag, which is attached to every piece and lists essential information including what it is made of, how the cost is distributed, and approximately how many people worked on it. But, “sustainability is the bare minimum” for Amendi, they do not wish to just sustain, they want to rejuvenate and do so by partnering with trusted charities.

Amendi

Boyish

Boyish Jeans is constantly looking for ways to improve. Every step in the supply chain is fully thought through, from utilizing new innovative fibers like REFRIBRA technology, sustainable washing methods like ozone, or using non-toxic and plant-based dyes. They leave as little of an impact on the Earth as possible and give back to their communities in so many wonderful ways. Some of their partners include Solar Sister, Keep A Breast, Friends of the LA River, California Coast Keeper Alliance, and Fair Trade USA, as well as members of 1% For The Planet.

Boyish

Etica

Etica takes a holistic approach to production that goes beyond sustainability, not to mention they are one of the only manufacturers fully certified for Global Impact, Clean Industry Practices and Social Responsibility. They commit to using water and energy-saving production processes and handpick their suppliers making sure they are OEKO-TEX STANDARD, Cradle to Cradle, GOTS, and Bluesign certified. Etica is a member of 1% For The Planet and participates in many social initiatives including Friends of the LA River Clean Up, Heal the Bay Adopt a Beach program and tree planting excursions that are covered via social media.

Etica

Kings Of Indigo

KOI really puts themselves out there and breaks down EVERYTHING that goes into producing their products. Just take a look at this page. They strive for full transparency and even note which factory each piece was made in on their site, as well as an explanation for why the materials chosen are better for you and the planet. Founder, Tony Tonnaer, makes sure that the brand is always two steps ahead when it comes to sustainability, and is always experimenting with the newest fibers and technology available on the market. 

Kings of Indigo

MUD Jeans

MUD Jeans makes me so excited. Sustainable and ethical production is at their very core, but MUD has done something revolutionary in my opinion. They launched their “Lease a Jeans” program back in 2013 that promotes the idea of use over ownership. When you no longer wish to lease your jeans, MUD takes them back and recycles them into new items. This is one concept I believe can help brands become truly circular.

MUD jeans

Nudie Jeans

Nudie Jeans is also experimenting with methods to create a circular brand. They focus on creating timeless, seasonless product made from Organic, Fairtrade or Recycled cotton, and man-made cellulosic fibers such as TENCEL™ Lyocell. Nudie offers free repairs for life to help you keep you and your favorite pair of jeans together, but when you’re ready to say farewell, Nudie has got your back! Nudie’s take-back program results in a one of a kind, utterly unique denim collection called “Re-use.” The line is comprised of secondhand pieces worn and designed by you. When Nudie receives your worn denim, they clean and repair them with artful mending, ready to be sold again. In 2019, 63,281 pairs of jeans were repaired – the more jeans your bring back to Nudie, the more pairs they can repair!

Nudie Jeans

Outland

Outland Denim was founded on the idea of training victims of sexual exploitation to create quality denim staples that give back to people and the planet. You can really feel their passion for helping the people who make their brand, as well as the planet. Committed to full transparency and using the industry’s leading water and energy-saving production methods, Outland also actively invests in research and development by partnering with universities and governments around the world. The areas of research cover water purification, carbon footprint reduction, and zero-waste production!

Outland

Reformation

For those of you who know Reformation, you’ve probably heard of their Refscale. The Refscale measures every product’s environmental footprint by adding up the pounds of carbon dioxide emitted, gallons of water used, and pounds of waste generated. This scale is shown on every product page and allows consumers to make educated purchases! Sustainable production is the first step for Ref, the second is replacing the resources they’ve spent through offsets. Reformation has been carbon-neutral since 2015 but is now working to make it official through non-for-profit Climate Neutral’s certification process. 

Reformation

Tenue.co

Tenue.co is the house brand of specialty retailer, Tenue de Nimes, based in Amsterdam. What really strikes me with Tenue.co is their attention to craft, quality, and care. All Tenue.co jeans are hand-cut and hand-sewn by their partners using Japanese fabrics and has partnered with a second-generation denim ‘sommelier’ from the denim capital, Kojima, of Japan. With expert craftsmanship, Tenue.co jeans truly represent the artisanal craft and are made to last! When shoppers are in-store, they ask three questions: Do you know where this was made? Do you know what it’s made of? What will you do when you’re done with it? Offering free repairs for life, Tenue really makes the point of educating consumers about the whole lifecycle of their jeans!

Tenue.co

Triarchy

Triarchy’s mission is to conserve our planet’s most important resource by reducing the massive water consumption that comes with denim. How are they achieving this? By using a combination of e-flow, ozone, and laser technology to drastically reduce unnecessary consumption in the manufacturing process. They are also working non-profit Isla Urbana, working on the urgent problem of water accessibility in rural areas of Mexico. Over the last 10 years, they have helped over 35,000 people and harvested over 50 million liters of water. Pretty freaking incredible.

Triachy

Thank you to these 10 brands who are leading by example, and the many others doing their part to help mama Earth. Sustainable denim is here to stay and it is so inspiring to see brands going above and beyond sustainable production! These are the brands that are going to come out of ‘working from home’ front and center. As we shift our mindsets and come into our new reality, always remember that our choices matter and they make a difference. The power of one is real, so vote with your dollars people and support the world you want to live in! Happy Earth Day friends! Stay safe stay green 🙂

Ani