I think it is safe to say that denim is a wardrobe staple for a lot of us. But denim is a difficult fabric when it comes to sustainability issues. Made of cotton, enormous amounts of water are needed for the production of the fabric for just one pair of jeans. Then there are the dyes and the fact that most jeans are washed and worked on extensively before they are sold.
As a consumer, there are a few things you can do to make wearing denim a bit more sustainable.
- choose organic denim, because it is still better than non organic fabric
- try to limit how often you wash your denim piece (‘air’ them instead of washing)
- do not tumble dry
- buy dry denim instead of pre-washed denim
French clothing brand A.P.C. can also be helpful in making more sustainable choices when it comes to wearing denim. For one, they only sell unwashed or dry denim. Dry denim in the beginning feels stiff, but the more you wear it the more it will fit to your particular body. After a while the fabric will start to show a unique patina that comes only from you wearing your jeans. The less you wash your jeans, the better they will turn out. A.P.C. even includes (non) washing instructions with every pair of jeans.
But because some of us prefer the worn in look over the heavy, dark fabric that is dry denim, A.P.C. introduced their Butler series. People who prefer their jeans unwashed can return them to the A.P.C. store once they are broken in. In return they get a 50% discount on a new pair of dry denim jeans. The worn in jeans are repaired if necessary and then resold as part of the Butler Worn- Out Series to people who like their jeans to be worn in.