Fashion

Behind the jeans: let’s get real about denim

As the fashion industry makes strides towards confronting their contribution to pollution, it’s important to spotlight how your everyday jeans are actually setting you back on some eco-points.

We should probably get more real with our shopping habits. This is bigger than agreeing with and sharing the sound bites on sustainability on the gram or reteweeting videos of activists doing the work while we sit idle behind our screens. Of course we are all guilty in one way or the other-which is precisely the reason why we’re in this mess to begin with. The climate crisis omen has loomed over us for more than a decade, but fear not, there’s no better time to make a change than right now. The climate crisis is an everybody crisis and we must confront the privileges that the west has afforded us. Our access and consumption not only affects the privileged, but, gravely and disproportionally affects those less advantaged.

As the fashion industry makes strides towards confronting their contribution to pollution, it’s important to spotlight how your everyday jeans are actually setting you back on some eco-points. Whether you’re a fashion fanatic or can just about name a brand, denim’s reign has spanned a century. Look down. You’re either currently wearing a pair of jeans or slung a denim jacket over your shoulder; and for you double denim defenders out there you’ll be shocked to know just how negatively the manufacturing process has on the environment.

1,800 gallons of water is used to grow the cotton necessary to make just one bellbottom! The cotton fiber is vigorously fertilized to produce just enough single fibers that would go on to be weft and processed to make the denim. This is the same equivalent of almost 7 years worth of drinking water. 25 billion gallons of water yearly annually goes into the production of the textiles industry as a whole. Of those fabrics, 1.3 trillion gallons of water is used during the dyeing process. As a result, it is estimated that 70% of Asia’s river’s and lakes have been affected by 2.5 gallons of contamination through wastewater.

Now, this is not to sound preachy in any way, in fact, what better way to relay the affects of polluters than offering simple tips towards a change.

Many brands have made a conscious decision towards a green such as Reformation and Re/Done who work with close to 80% recycled waste in office and within manufacturing. Jean inventors, included, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis have been repurposing denim for the past five years. After all, what’s better than new jeans? A new pair of vintage ones, for sure. In 2014 Levi Strauss & Co. launched a recycling initiative in partnership with I:CO to provide customers with the service of recycling old garments in stores. “Buy Better, Recycle more”.

A customization service became readily available in Paris, London and Berlin by 2018 and people can’t get enough. Whether your buying a Levi’s piece or have an old pair that you want to make a new and flex with, this is the perfect way to stand out from the crowd, and what’s even better- denim never goes out of style. So if you’re unlike me and bawling on a budget, pretty useless with the sewing machine, or crafts have never been your forte, then head on down to your nearest Levi’s flagship store and get tweaking.

23 May 2019