Is the Denim Industry Keeping Pace With the SDGs?

For James Bartle, Outland Denim is basically the first Sustainable Development Goal—end poverty in all its forms everywhere—decked out in blue jeans. “Poverty is the root cause of so many issues,” said Bartle, who founded the Australian-based B Corp in 2016 to train and employ women who were sexually trafficked but has since “widened its…

How Fashion is Taking on the Plastic Crisis, One Polybag at a Time

There’s no getting around it: the fashion industry is drowning in plastic, and the single-use polybag is a big part of the reason. Thin, lightweight and derived from low-density polyethylene, roughly 180 billion of these bags, both large and small, are employed by the apparel supply chain every year to protect stock in warehouses and…

Now or Never: Sustainability is Denim Industry’s Covid-19 Lifeline

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown fashion retailers in a state of frenzy, and the denim industry is no different. Shoppers, largely battening down at home, aren’t as eager to crack open their wallets for non-essentials, let alone splurge on bottoms that aren’t visible on Zoom calls. The coronavirus doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon,…

Is California the Sustainable Fashion Capital of the US?

Allbirds. Levi Strauss. Nike. The North Face. Patagonia. Reformation. Think of an American brand with an earth-conscious bent and chances are it’s from California. The Golden State’s legacy of environmental protection runs deep. For decades, it has led on pollution, chemical, and conservation policies that have often served as proof-of-concept models for other states and…

In Denim, Investing in Sustainable Technology Is the New Normal

Eco-friendly denim is more ubiquitous than ever, but bringing it to market hasn’t been easy. Nor cheap, for that matter. While planet-pandering technologies—think Jeanologia’s water-sipping denim-finishing systems, Tonello’s bleach-less OBleach or Archroma’s botanically derived EarthColors—are increasingly available, they also require upfront costs from the mills that employ them. “Sustainability is really linked to research and…

Denim’s Resale Revolution

Used. Secondhand. Thrifted. Pre-loved. Whatever you call it, resale is becoming big business. The proof is in the statistics: Not only has the clothing re-commerce market grown 21 times faster than its retail counterpart over the past three years, according to secondhand e-tailer ThredUp, which crunched the numbers with analytics firm GlobalData for its 2019…

Eternal Life: How the Denim Industry is Pushing Circularity

Few garments are as tailor-made for the circular economy as denim. When Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss invented rivet-reinforced blue jeans as we know them in 1850s San Francisco, they conceived of them as workwear for prospectors in the grip of the gold rush. For circularity pundits, who want to keep resources in circulation as…

For Denim, Progress Makes Perfect

It’s hard to tell when denim decided it wanted to be a sustainable product. Perhaps it was in 2010, when reports of a “silicosis epidemic” that cost the lives of sandblasting workers hit the mainstream press. Or maybe it was after Greenpeace investigators described blackened rivers in China, India, and Mexico marbled with fetid plumes…

Are Denim-Recycling Initiatives Green or Greenwashing?

Denim recycling isn’t an issue that would strike most people as being controversial. Who wants to see more textiles destined for the dump? And surely with all that Marie Kondo-ing going around, all those joyless jeans must go somewhere. And indeed, schemes such as Cotton Incorporated’s Blue Jeans Go Green initiative—the largest and most successful…

Hemp or Hype?

Industrial hemp is in the spotlight again, and for good reason. The new Farm Bill that the Senate passed 87-13 in December now legalizes the commercial production of hemp, freeing it from the shackles of the Controlled Substance Act and severely curtailing the number of restrictions that have prevented farmers from raising it as a…

How Levi’s and Outerknown Reclaimed Hemp from the Hippies

Rare is the San Francisco party where Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss, isn’t accosted by “some hippie” extolling the wonders of industrial hemp and demanding to know why the denim giant isn’t doing more with it. “The answer is always, ‘Well, just look at yourself hippie,’” Dillinger told Rivet with…