The Lowdown on the Sustainable Denim Brands That Are Literally Saving Water
It's exciting when a movement as powerful as sustainable fashion bypasses the buzzword phase and proves its staying power. How the effort is executed, however, varies widely from consumer to brand, whether you're thrifting at a consignment shop or choosing biodegradable packaging for all your shipping needs. When it comes to denim, in an effort to conserve clean drinking water and keep the planet free of pollution, companies implementing water conservation efforts are blazing the trail for the apparel industry writ large.
Eco-minded brands use water-saving wash techniques at various points in the denim-making process to reduce water usage. For the uninitiated, cotton irrigation makes up 92 percent of the water footprint of a pair of jeans. According to The 71 Percent, it takes a whopping 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton for your blues — that's a mind-blowing figure for just one garment. While seemingly minor details like organic cotton may not have seemed important to you in the past, breaking down the process reveals that buying organic means a brand uses roughly 91 percent less water and eliminates the need for harmful pesticides. So you can probably see what the hype is all about.
Take it from us: shopping eco-friendly denim doesn't mean you're limited to a single style. On the contrary, some of our favorite brands are already on board. Ahead, shop 15 stylish iterations that are all made using reduced water techniques. Spoiler alert: this comprehensive list includes everything from your go-to everyday blues to the denim sundress you'll be wearing all season long.
AG Adriano Goldschmied
AG's approach to sustainable denim? Go big or go home. To offset the water usage for pieces like this AG Adriano Goldschmied Giselle Dress ($218), the brand implemented two state-of-the-art water filtration systems — one for each of its factories in Los Angeles and Mexico — which have recycled over 20 million gallons of water to date. Its primary goal is to recycle 50 million gallons a year — the equivalent of 75 Olympic-size swimming pools (!).
Citizens of Humanity
You'll look and feel amazing in this Citizens of Humanity Liu Jumpsuit ($398) knowing that the Los Angeles-based label does its part to help California avoid another disastrous drought, including developing its own ozone-layer process and using high-efficiency machines to reduce water and power.
These D'Iyanu Haraka Jeans ($65) are just one example of Pennsylvania-based designer Addie Elabor's creative use of African-inspired prints. Compared to the industry standard of using 1,800 gallons of water for one pair, D'Iyanu uses about 1,120 gallons for every 400 pieces.
It's worth noting that these Ética Devon Wide Leg Crop Jeans ($158) are made using E-flow technology, which essentially converts water into vapor, translating to significantly less being used. It doesn't stop there, though — after saving thousands of gallons of water, Ética then recycles the water it does use for local farmland. Plus, every purchase made plants one tree.
Kut From the Kloth
In addition to saving water, the Kut From the Kloth Mia High Rise Fab Ab Slim Fit Skinny ($89) is made using E-flow technology that increases washing capacity by 200 percent — meaning Kut From the Kloth gets to expedite its denim production just for you while using fewer resources.
When creating its signature denim, such as these Lee Vintage Modern Stretch Union-Alls ($138), the all-American brand addresses sustainability and water preservation at every point of the production cycle, from fibers to finishing. As recently as 2019, Lee celebrated saving one billion liters of water (and counting).
As the OG cult-favorite denim, it's only right that Levi's is stepping up to meet environmental needs. This Levi's Adjustable Trucker Jacket ($198) is part of its sustainable WellThread collection made from cottonized hemp. Compared to cotton, it not only saves resources but requires fewer chemicals and leaves behind healthier soils, too.
Behold, Gap's Gen Good True Skinny Jeans ($49), aka your new favorite skinnies — and one of the most sustainably produced. For its part, Gap has saved 402 million liters of water since 2016, and 91 percent of its denim is made via its water-saving Washwell program. With this pair, which is part of the Generation Good capsule, the company commits even further to less waste and lower emissions — each style is either made using at least 50 percent recycled materials or organic cotton.
Warp + Weft
Earth-toned denim courtesy of Warp + Weft's NCE Wide Leg Jeans ($98)? Yes, please. The eco-minded company uses less than 10 gallons of water to make each pair and reduces its carbon footprint by using solar panels to help power operations in its factories. Talk about leading by example.