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20 Best Sustainable Denim Brands For Ethical Living (2022)

Did you know that your favorite pair of blue jeans, on average, uses about 3,000 liters of water during production? Denim also contributes to extreme pollution of rivers, high CO2 emissions, and poisoning of factory workers. But don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your go-to pants…

Sustainable denim brands allow you to rock your jeans and protect the planet. These brands use a variety of eco friendly processes to make their denim sustainable including natural dyes, organic cotton, industry organization accreditations, ethical labor practices, and in-house denim recycling.

In this article, we cover the best sustainable denim brands of 2022. It covers a wide range of styles, prices, and brands, so there’s a jean for everyone here. The best part is not only will you look good in your new jeans, you’ll be doing good for the planet.

Our Quick Picks For Your Next Sustainable Denim Brand

With every year, more and more brands are adopting more sustainable practices. This means you now have a lot of choices for sustainable denim, but here are some of our favorites. Read on for the full list:

  • Best for Men: Outland Denim – timeless and classic denim pieces produced ethically by survivors of sex trafficking with all organic cotton and no harmful dyes.
  • Best for Women: Everlane – a wide range of jean styles designed for every body type produced with renewable energy, recycled water, and organic cotton.
  • Best for Fashion: Reformation – a fashion denim brand with a cult following, Reformation uses high-quality sustainable fabrics for pieces that are forever in style.
  • Best for Work: Levi’s – the most iconic denim brand’s new sustainable collection uses organic and recycled cotton and is built to last no matter what type of work you need to do.

Budget: $$$
Features: Recycled Water, Reduced Carbon Footprint, No Harsh Dyes, Size Inclusive, Women-Owned

ABLE, based in Nashville, creates fashionable jeans for every woman using sustainable practices, sourcing their denim as locally as possible to avoid carbon emissions from transportation. All water is recycled and they prioritize eco-friendly dyes to avoid water pollution.

Beyond environmental sustainability, they also focus on their social impact by donating all denim scraps for use in affordable housing insulation, including women in leadership and decision making at all stages of production, and are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Their denim pieces come in a variety of styles, from a classic skinny jean to a denim shirt dress and everything in between. They carry sizes XXS-3X, making them one for the most size inclusive denim brands on the market.

Range includes: skinny jeans, straight leg jeans, wide leg jeans, overalls

Our top pick: The Whitney Boyfriend Jean for a super soft, relaxed -fit pair of jeans. Bonus points because they’re handcrafted in Mexico!

Click below to see prices at ABLE:

Budget: $$$
Features: Organic Cotton, Made in the USA, Lifetime Guarantee, Recycled Denim, Fair Labor Practices

Outerknown is a sustainable fashion powerhouse, known for their durable and stylish jeans. 90% of the textiles they use are organic, recycled, or regenerated, so whether you’re buying their jeans or the other apparel they offer, you can be certain it’s sustainable sourced.

Their jeans are made with organic cotton, sourced from the cleanest denim factory in the world, and made in Los Angeles. They come in styles for both men and women and are designed to last.

They also have a lifetime guarantee on their jeans, which keeps jeans in your closet and out of landfills and they’ll even repair your jeans from wear and tear. If they can’t repair them, you’ll get a brand new pair and your old pair will be recycled.

Range includes: boyfriend jeans, slim jeans, straight jeans, skinny jeans, flare jeans, relaxed jeans, women’s jeans, men’s jeans

Our top picks: for men, their Selvedge slim fit is a classic jean made from organic cotton small batch selvedge from Italy. It’s some of the most premium sustainable denim on the market. For women, their straight jeans are mid-rise for a timeless, relaxed look.

Click below to see prices at Outerknown:

Budget: $$$
Features: GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, Low Water Use, Non-Toxic Chemicals, Recyclable Packaging, Fair Labor Practices

Katharine Hamnett is a fashion-forward, sustainability-first brand. All of their denim is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, which means it passes rigorous standards for organic textiles, ethical production practices, and lower carbon emissions and water usage.

They make clothes ethically and sustainably, preserve traditional skills, source sustainable raw materials, cut carbon emissions by producing clothes in the EU, and practice good labor standards set by the Fair Wear Foundation.

Range includes: flare jeans, straight jeans, men’s jeans, women’s jeans

Our top picks: for men, the Mick Medium Wash Jeans are an everyday jean great for every occasion. For women, the Anita light wash jeans are high-waisted and wide-flared for a stylish, but comfortable jean.

Click below to see prices at Katherine Hamnett:

Budget: $$
Features: 100% Organic Cotton, Recycling Program, Fair Wear Foundation Leaders, GOTS Certified Organic Cotton

Nudie Jeans are a cult favorite thanks to their ultra-soft, 100% organic cotton jeans made in timeless styles with modern fits and denim technology. Their organic cotton is certified by GOTS, so you can be sure of what you’re purchasing, and they use recycled polyester in their linings.

Sustainability is a main pillar of Nudie Jeans, so they make their manufacturing process very transparent with a full view of carbon emissions, water usage, and carbon offsetting for their entire supply chain.

They also created the Ture Recycled Blanket initiative, recycling post-consumer Nudie Jeans and used wool to create the perfect picnic blanket.

Nudie Jeans have won a lot of industry awards, including the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Award, Fairtrade awards, and have also been nominated by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency for their Courage and Pace award.

Range includes: men’s jeans, women’s jeans, skinny jeans, straight leg jeans, slim fit jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top picks: for men, the Lean Dean Well Worn jean is the ultimate cool jean– a slim fit with a grayish-blue wash and just the right amount of rip at the knees. For women, the Breezy Britt in Friendly Blue is the ultimate 90s jeans with a high-waisted fit, tapered leg, and marbling wash effects.

Click below to see prices at Nudie Jeans:

Budget: $$
Features: Resale Available, Recyclable Packaging, Made in the USA, TENCEL™ Fiber, Eco-Friendly Raw Textiles

Amour Vert is a US-based clothing brand that focuses on designing classic, timeless jean fits. They develop their own fabrics with mills to ensure all of their clothing is made with the most sustainable and comfortable materials. They use compostable packaging to ship your items to you, replacing 137,206 plastic poly bags since 2018.

Unique to Amour Vert is their resale marketplace, ReAmour, where you can find pre-loved Amour Vert clothing for discounted prices. This allows more customers to access their clothing and prevents clothing from ending up in a landfill if the original owner no longer wants it.

Amour Vert is known for their well-fitting and classically styled denim. Instead of super trendy pieces that get thrown out after a season, Amour Vert’s pieces are made to last and stay in style forever.

Range includes: high rise jeans, mid rise jeans, straight leg jeans, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top pick: AGOLDE Criss Cross Straight Jean for a fun twist on a classic style

Click below to see prices at Amour Vert:

Budget: $$
Features: Fair Labor Practices, Local and Global Community Investment, Reduced Water and Energy Usage in Production, Non-Toxic Chemicals, 100% Vegan

Etica is a denim brand that puts sustainability first in every step of their process. Their denim is made with the most sustainable fabrics they can source – from organic cotton grown in the US, to cellulose fibers like TENCEL™ and Refriba that do not use pesticides, irrigation, or genetic modifications to grow. All materials are plant based, meaning vegans can shop here without worry.

With new technologies and a energy efficient production proceeds, they have been able to reduce energy consumption by 64%, water usage by 90%, and chemical usage by 70%. They also give back to local communities by recycling their water for local farmers and donating old wash stones to build low-income housing.

Etica has accreditations from OEKO-TEX Standard 100, WRAP, Cradle to Cradle™, and GOTS. They’re also a Better Cotton Initiative™ member and follower of the Fair Labor Association and Bluesign™ codes of conduct.

Range includes: straight leg jeans, high rise jeans, mid rise jeans, wide leg jeans, crop jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top pick: the Iris Relaxed Taper jean for a comfortable, dressy white jeans option

Click below to see prices at Etica:

Budget: $$
Features: Reduced Carbon Footprint, Recyclable Packaging, Recycled Fabrics, GOTS Certified Cotton, Recycled Water

Everlane makes sustainable jeans for both men and women. They have specific environmental initiatives for their denim with the goal of producing 100% clean denim and having zero carbon emissions by 2050.

They use certified organic cotton with Roica® V550 yarn–the only stretch yarn in the world made without harmful chemicals–for a comfy fitting jean that isn’t bad for the environment. Their jeans are also produced in clean factories that recycle water, use renewable energy, and recycled denim waste.

Range includes: women’s jeans, men’s jeans, high-rise jeans, mid-rise jeans, skinny jeans, straight jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top picks: for men, the slim fit is a great everyday jean that you can easily dress up for a nice dinner. For women, the Way-High skinny is comfortable, flattering, and sleek enough to style any way you want.

Click below to see prices at Everlane:

Budget: $$$
Features: Recycled Fibers, Resale Platform, Reduced Carbon Footprint, Low-Waste Facilities, Scrap Recycling

Filippa K has been in the sustainable denim business since 1994, so they are well-practiced in producing environmentally friendly jeans.

Their main philosophy of sustainable denim production is a model of circularity. They follow the four Rs: reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle. By creating high-quality, durable denim, they reduce customer’s consumption and over production of clothing. They also only buy what they are going to sell, reducing the amount of waste they produce.

Filippa K offers DIY repairs guides, so you can wear your favorite jeans over and over again. They also reuse past season’s materials and created an online shop for preowned Filippa K clothing.

Range includes: women’s jeans, men’s jeans, straight leg jeans, flare jeans, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top picks: for men, the Bruno Textured jean is a tailored, straight leg jean made of artisanal hand-spun cotton for a luxurious feel. For women, the Briony jean is cropped and  slightly flared in a dark blue denim, making it a subtle stylish choice.

Click below to see prices at Filippa K:

Budget: $$
Features: Raw Denim, Fair Labor Practices, Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Fabrics, Reduced Supply Chain Carbon Footprint, Greenpeace DETOX Committed, Better Cotton Initiative

G-Star makes reasonably priced raw denim jeans for men, women, kids, and in unisex fits.

They only use sustainable materials to create durable raw denim that will last use after use. By 2025, 20% of their apparel will be made with Cradle to Cradle Certified™ fabrics, the most rigorous certification for sustainable clothing production. By 2030, 100% of their apparel will be made from organic, recycled, or compostable fabrics.

They have also signed the DETOX Commitment with Greenpeace, so they are phasing out all unsustainable chemicals in production, making their denim raw and clean. Beyond production, they are committed to reducing their supply chain’s carbon footprint.

Range includes: men’s jeans, women’s jeans, kids’ jeans, unisex jeans

Our top picks: for men, the 3301 Regular Tapered Jean is a classic, slightly cropped jean available in a variety of colors. For women, the Kate Boyfriend Jean is a relaxed fitting, low waist jean with usable pockets (!).

Click below to see prices at G-Star:

Budget: $
Features: Fair Trade Certified™, Better Cotton Initiative, Resale Shop, Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ Recycling Program, Recyclable Packaging 

Madewell has made huge strides in sustainability over the last few years, especially with the introduction of their Do Well collection. Like many denim brands, they have adopted a circularity model to elongate a product’s lifetime, increase recycling, and use sustainable materials.

In their denim, Madewell uses 44% organic or recycled cotton, with the goal of using 100% organic cotton by 2025. They also use cellulosic fibers like TENCEL™, a sustainable fiber which allows for a stretchy, comfy jean.

They are also actively decreasing and offsetting their carbon footprint by using energy-efficient light bulbs and recyclable packing. They also partner with programs like the UPS’s Carbon Neutral Shipping program, Botton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ program, and Trees for the Future.

Range includes: high-rise jeans, mid-rise jeans, vintage denim, skinny jeans, wide leg jeans, flare jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top pick: the Perfect Vintage Jean is a straight leg, mid-rise pair you can wear anywhere and will last for years

Click below to see prices at Madewell:

Budget: $$$
Features: Certified Organic Cotton, Low Impact Dye, Low-Wash Jeans, Recycled Materials, GOTS Certified, Better Cotton Initiative™

M.i.h Jeans are a staple in many stylish closets and for good reason. They produce high-quality, vintage inspired jeans with a sustainability manifesto that aims to reduce the environmental impact of their jeans throughout the entire production process.

They started on their sustainability journey with the Paradise Capsule, a collection of denim that used 100% certified cotton, low impact dyes and finishes, low water washes, and recycled packaging and displays.

Since then, they have been transitioning all of their clothing to the same standards as their Paradise Capsule with a heavy focus on transparency. Beyond the production environmental concerns, they have also moved to be more transparent about the working conditions in their production facilities and the environmental impact across their supply chain from transport to packaging.

Range includes: straight leg jeans, flare jeans, slim fit jeans, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top pick: the Daily Jean is just that, an everyday pair of black jeans ready to take you wherever you need to go.

Click below to see prices at M.i.h:

Budget: $$$
Features: Organic Cotton, Local and Global Community Investment, Fair Labor Practices, Reduced Carbon Footprint of Production Facilities, B Corporation

Outland Denim doesn’t just talk the talk of sustainability–they walk the walk. They were created out of frustration for the garment industry’s excessive impact on the environment and history of using exploitative labor.

Their sustainable denim is produced with their state-of-the-art technology, including E-Flow, which uses 95% less water, 40% less energy, and 90% less chemicals than the traditional denim technology. They use zero harmful chemicals in their jeans and recycle 100% of their textile waste for use by recycling researchers, non-profit groups, and NGOs.

Outland Denim doesn’t just work on their environmental impact, they have strict regulations in place to minimize human impact as well. In their garment making facilities, they hire people who have come out of human trafficking situations, pay a living wage, and provide cross-training and community education to workers and their families.

Range includes: men’s jeans, women’s jeans, straight leg jeans, slim fit jeans, wide leg jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top picks: for men, the Dusty-Black jean is a comfortable slim fit jeans with just the right amount of stretch. For women, the Athina jean is a relaxed, modern boyfriend jean perfect for a walk in the woods or a lunch with the girls.

Click below to see prices at Outland Denim:

Budget: $$
Features: Sustainable Materials, Reduced Water Use, Repair Shop, Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ Recycling Program, No Harmful Chemicals, Resale Program 

Levi’s Sustainability collection brings the iconic denim brand into the 21st century with a new focus on reducing their environmental impact.

Their main method of making their classic jeans more eco-friendly is using sustainable materials. They have begun using cottonized hemp, an innovative hemp yarn woven to act and feel like cotton, but which uses way less water and chemicals to grow. They also started using their Levi’s® Water<Less® finishing process that uses less water and recycles the water they do use, saving about 4.2 billion liters of water and recycling 9 billion more.

While Levi’s have always been durable, they’re now taking product longevity to a new level with a repair shop, resale shop, and recycling program.

Range includes: women’s jeans, men’s jeans, kids’ jeans, skinny jeans, vintage jeans, work jeans

Our top picks: for men, the 505™ Regular Fit jeans are a classic–they’re perfect for jobs around the house, running errands, or heading out on a date. For women, jump head first back into the low-rise denim trend with the Low Pitch Straight Fit jeans, a light wash, distressed pair.

Click below to see prices at Levi’s:

Budget: $$
Features: PETA Certified Vegan Materials, Fair Labor Practices, GOTS Certified, World Fair Trade Organization Certified, No Harmful Chemicals, Organic Cotton

People Tree has been making sustainability a main pillar of their business since they started in 1991. They combine sustainable materials, traditional artisan skills, and fair labor practices to make high-quality, stylish denim pieces.

They use 100% organic cotton, TENCEL™ Lyocell, and other natural materials in their denim, making it soft and stretchy without the need for polyesters. It’s also dyed using low impact dyes and no harmful chemicals, lessening local water pollution.

They are GOTS certified by the Soil Association and were awarded the World Fair Trade Organization product label, the first fashion company to receive one.

Range includes: slim leg jeans, straight leg jeans, overalls, skinny jeans

Our top pick: the Cecile Straight Leg Jeans are a modern and cropped play on the 90s’s straight leg jean silhouette.

Click below to see prices at Levi’s:

Budget: $$
Features: 100% Organic Cotton and Hemp, Fair Trade Certified™, Recyclable Packaging, Recycled Materials, Reduced Supply Chain Carbon Footprint, Bluesign® Systems Partner

prAna is an outdoor, active lifestyle clothing brand that has roots in sustainable fashion. Between using sustainable materials like organic cotton and hemp to packaging and shipping their products as carbon neutral as possible, they strive to make denim and other apparel as environmentally friendly as they can.

They only use GOTS and Organic Content Standard (OCS) certified organic cotton, organic hemp, and low-impact dyes for their denim. By 2030, 80% of their materials will be bluesign® approved, a designation given only to the cleanest and harmful chemical-free fabrics and materials.

They’ve also partnered with The Renewal Workshop as part of their circularity model to repair torn clothing, recycle manufacturing scraps, and upcycle textiles.

Range includes: men’s jeans, women’s jeans, workwear, bootcut jeans

Our top picks: for men, the Bridger Jean can be just as easily worn to the office or on a walk with the dog. For women, the Buxton jean is a boyfriend fit jean perfect for sitting around a campfire or heading out on a hike.

Click below to see prices at prAna:

Budget: $$
Features: Recycled Materials, Green Building Certified, 100% Carbon Neutral, Manufactured in the USA, Low-Impact Dyes, Bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 Certified

Reformation is reforming the fashion industry one pair of jeans at a time. They have a long list of sustainable practices focused on eco-friendly materials, green manufacturing, and a positive social impact on their workers and local communities.

They are a 100% carbon neutral company, using electricity offsets from wind power, energy efficient appliances, and sustainable shipping and packaging processes. Their fabrics and fibers are all bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified using low-impact, non-toxic dyes, and are made with recycled or organic cotton.

Unique to Reformation is the RefScale, which tracks the co-footprint of every product and is displayed on each product’s page, so their customers are always aware of the environmental impact their new purchase has made.

Range includes: skinny jeans, straight leg jeans, relaxed fit jeans, wide leg jeans, bootcut jeans

Our top pick: the Cynthia Chamomile High Rise Straight Jean is an adorable pair, embroidered with tiny chamomile flowers that fit like your vintage 90s jeans should.

Click below to see prices at Reformation:

Budget: $$$
Features: Sustainable Packing, Recycling Program, Sustainable Materials, Transparent Supply Chain, Organic Cotton

Theo + George is a small business with a global perspective, sourcing eco-friendly materials from around the world. While their speciality is luxe cashmere, their jeans are similarly high-quality and sustainable.

Theo + George’s main philosophy of sustainability is the Japanese term, monozukuri, the art and science of making things that last. They create durable, timeless pieces that won’t be thrown out with the change of seasons, but rather investment pieces you can wear forever.

They create these long lasting pieces with globally-sourced sustainable materials like organic cotton and small batch cashmere. They also have a recycling partnership with a company in Dublin that provides convenient locations for Irish customers to recycle their denim.

Range includes: slim fit jeans, skinny jeans, straight leg jeans

Our top pick: the Indy Slim Fit Jean is made with 100% organic cotton for a relaxed fit tailor made in Italy.

Click below to see prices at Theo + George:

Budget: $
Features: Bluesign® Approved Fabrics, Reduced Water Use, Made with Recycled Cotton, Size Inclusive, Energy Efficient Facilities

Volcom, a surfing and skating brand, has begun transitioning to making more and more clothing sustainably with their Eco-True collections for men and women.

The company as a whole has a very eco-friendly model with an energy efficient HQ, renewable energy run manufacturing facilities around the world, and by running sustainable surfing and skating events. Their products are shipped with eco-friendly packaging.

For their Eco-True denim, they use recycled cotton blends and low-water washing processes. As of right now, there’s not many choices for denim in the collection, but they have plans to expand the sustainability standards to all of their clothing in the next few years.

Range includes: women’s jeans, men’s jeans, skinny jeans

Our top pick: for men, the Slim Fit jeans in black are a relaxed fit you can wear anywhere your wheels take you. For women, the Liberator High Rise Jeans are a classic black skinny jean ready to hit the skate park with you.

Click below to see prices at Volcom:

Budget: $
Features: Family-Owned, Recycled Water, Fair Labor Practices, Eco-Friendly Fabrics, Low-Impact Washing, Size-Inclusive

Warp + Weft set out on a mission to create high-quality, eco-friendly denim pieces for everyone three decades ago and they’re still going strong.

Their denim uses less than 45 liters of water per pair of jeans, which is staggering compared to the 3,000 liters an average pair takes. They also avoid toxic water pollution by using Dry Ozone technology to dye and wash their jeans. In their HQ and manufacturing facilities, they put people first with fair wages, reasonable hours, and healthy and safe working conditions.

Warp + Weft is one of the most accessible sustainable denim brands because of their size-inclusive offerings and reasonable pricing.

Range includes: women’s jeans, men’s jeans, kids’ jeans, plus size jeans, flare jeans, skinny jeans, straight leg jeans

Our top pick: for men, the AMS Sleepwalker is a sharp slim fit jean comfortable enough to fall asleep in. For women, the Ase High Rise Straight is a true straight leg jean, flowing from the thigh down to a dropped hem in beautiful blue denim colors.

Click below to see prices at Warp + Weft:

Budget: $$$
Features: OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Approved, Plant Based Dyes, Recycled Water, PETA Certified Vegan Materials, TENCEL™ Lyocell Fabrics

Boyish makes timeless denim pieces that are in style today, tomorrow, and next decade. It’s a good thing too because their jeans are made from premium organic or recycled cotton and TENCEL™ Lyocell fabric, so they’re made to last decades.

Their jeans are dyed with natural plant based dyes and reduced indigo that has about 80% less sulphates than regular indigo dye. Their denim production is low waste and uses mainly recycled water and renewable energy.

Their production facilities are environmentally and ethically sound with fair wages and many different accreditations from and partnerships with organizations like The Jeans Redesign project, Cradle to Cradle™, Organic Content Standard, PETA, and OEKO-TEX.

Range includes: vintage jeans, wide leg jeans, straight leg jeans, flare jeans

Our top pick: the Ricky Jeans are a throwback to the 70s with a flared bottom and button fly, upgraded with TENCEL™ Lyocell for a 2022-era level of comfort.

Click below to see prices at Boyish:

Conclusion

With 450 million pairs of jeans sold in the United States every year alone, making the denim industry more sustainable is a worthwhile goal for environmentally minded people. By shopping at these brands, you’re signaling to the industry as a whole that making their jeans more eco-friendly is good for their business and the planet. Of course, being sustainable is also about not purchasing too many: we believe most men and women need no more than 3-4 pairs of jeans

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