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I’ve mentioned it before, but fashion as a whole is a pretty wasteful and pollution building industry. I first touched on this here, but it’s something I’m trying to be more mindful of. I’m buying less and less trend pieces, more and more investment pieces and going more classic so I can re-wear and re-style as I want.
It’s no secret that I love Madewell Jeans. I most recently shared this in my Style for Every Body: Denim Edition. They fit my body like none other and they are comfy and great quality. As someone who is painfully aware of the challenges of going eco-friendly and fair trade (it costs more and most people say they want it, but don’t want to actually pay more for the item.), I know it is important, but I somewhat understand why most brands don’t embark on it. When I saw that Madewell launched an Eco Collection, I was stoked! These wide leg crop jeans caught my eye in particular. I snatched them up because I didn’t really need a new pair of skinny jeans and these crops are modern, but have a classic, wear forever type of look too! They are made of organic Italian cotton and constructed in a Fair Trade Certified™ Saitex factory. The factory recycles 98% of its water, uses renewable energy and turns manufacturing waste into bricks for affordable housing. Madewell also makes contributions per item purchased to a Community Development Fund that is managed by the workers. This new Eco Collection is the cherry on top to their regular policy of “bring a pair of old jeans into the store for $20 off a new pair", (or $10 off a pair of shorts) as part of their Blue Jeans Go Green Recycling / insulation program!! Side note - I also grabbed these shorts and though they aren’t made of organic cotton like the pants, they are fair-trade certified!
Okay so no, Madewell as a whole is not eco-friendly, but I have to applaud what they are doing. Here are some other brands you can check out and support as fellow eco-friendly and sustainable denim brands!
Everlane (I wrote a brand overview for you here, but they are basically the most transparent brand I have ever seen! They practice ethical fashion, but also continually recycle like making a jacket line out of plastic bottles and tennis shoes out of old tires.)
Citizens of Humanity (They are made in America and are very closely followed throughout the entire production process. They are constantly pushing to be more sustainable.
DL1961 (Environmental awareness is woven into the foundation of their brand. They try to dye naturally and do everything they can to make their warehouses and production sites sustainable.)
Able (Based in Nashville, this brand is committed to changing the lives of women, in addition to their families. They are known for posting their wages and sharing their heart, which is the backbone of their mission #ShesWorthMore .)
Know the Origin (I compare KTO to Everlane, but a London version! They have a strict list of requirements for all of their products and provide traceability to where specific items are made.)
Outland Denim (They are Australia’s first certified B corporation denim brand and try to employ at risk women , while paying them a living wage!)
Re/Done (So they aren’t actually making jeans, but they are upcycling Levi’s, so I felt they were worth mentioning.)
Reformation (Making more than jeans, they practice sustainable fashion in an effort to go negative on their carbon footprint. Additionally, they actually host tours of their factories and are open to the public, so you can witness first hand how well they treat their workers!)
You might have read “living wage” and wondered what that even means. It is different than minimum wage, as most people cannot “live” off of it, hence then name of “living” wage and is associated more with fair trade, as that is the goal of the FTC. For reference, the living wage in the U.S. is $15.12 per hour, while in China it is about $11.70 and about $7.50 in Mexico. Factory workers are usually paid far less than this and forced to work long hours, so when a brand says they work with a living wage factory, this means they pay their workers fairly and treat them ethically. Might want to re-think that $5 shirt you bought from Forever 21 is all I’m saying… If a store buys at wholesale, that typically means they purchased it for half of the selling price. If a shirt is being sold at $10, that means they bought it at $5, which usuallllly means it cost around $2.50 for materials AND LABOR. Let that sink in… (side note some stores mark up more, some make less margin, etc. This is just a perfect scenario example to try explain why the cost of your clothes matter.)
ALSO just like greenwashing is prominent in the clean beauty industry, be mindful of generic buzz words (eco friendly, natural, green, etc) without certifications and backing. Keep in mind that certifications do cost money to get, so while they aren’t the end all be all, they are important. Nevertheless, I believe any shift toward being more mindful of ethical practices is good, so I’m going to celebrate it all!
Do you have a favorite eco-friendly brand?! I am always on the lookout for more good brands to support!
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