Yes, denim is a vegan fabric, and most denim clothes are vegan. However, some jeans use leather patches that make them unsuitable for a vegan lifestyle – always check the label.
What is Denim?
Denim is made from cotton, a natural material that is suitable for vegans and a vegan lifestyle (no animals are harmed or killed during the creation or manufacturing of denim). The cotton is woven into the distinctive twill pattern, which makes them more durable, water-resistant, and less likely to wrinkle.
Denim is a versatile and tough fabric that can be produced relatively inexpensively and was originally used to make long-lasting workwear. In the classic indigo jeans, the warp yarn is dyed indigo while the weft yarn is left undyed – that is why the inside of your jeans is mainly white, and the outside mainly blue/indigo.
How is Denim Made?
The first step of denim production is cotton cultivation. The cotton is harvested with mechanical pickers or by hand, and the fibers are separated from the seeds – a process known as ginning. The cotton fibers are compressed into bales, each one holding enough cotton for around 400 pairs of jeans.
The next process is known as spinning and consists of turning the fibers into yarn. The cotton fibers are combed to make them into long strings and are converted into yarn by using an industrial machine. Sometimes, during this step, elastic textiles like spandex are added to the yarn. Once the yarn has been made, it is dyed if needed, ready for weaving.
Last but not least, denim needs to be finished. These are meant to improve the look and feel of the fabric. These are some of the major finishing processes:
- Singeing: To get rid of the fluff or tiny hairs on the surface of the denim.
- Softening: Makes the fabric regain its softness and increase tearing strength.
- Coating: Improves the surface of the denim.
Is Denim Sustainable?
Denim is made out of cotton, a natural and biodegradable material. However, denim is only truly sustainable when it is made out of organic cotton. Non-organic cotton uses a huge amount of water, pesticides, and fertilizers, often causing extensive damage to the natural environment and posing a risk to the animals and humans that inhabit it.
Denim products may also contain other types of fabric like polyester or nylon, which derive from petroleum oil products and release microfibers of plastic to the ocean. The dyes that are applied to the denim may also contain harmful chemicals that could negatively impact the environment.
Several denim companies have started to use sustainable methods to produce denim. They use 100% organic cotton that doesn’t require the use of pesticides or fertilizers and requires less water than regular cotton. They use vegetable dyes that don’t contain harmful chemicals.
Verdict: Should Vegans Buy Denim?
Yes, vegans can definitely buy denim; it comes from a natural source that doesn’t derive from animals. If you also want your denim to be eco-friendly, make sure it is made of organic cotton that uses less water than the regular one and doesn’t use toxic pesticides or fertilizers.