Hunting for Denim
If, like me and most Americans, jeans are a staple of your wardrobe, the question becomes “how can I find ethically made jeans; are they still stylish or do they even exist?” I wear jeans at least once a week. I wear them all year round; in any weather. While I’m more concerned with fit than anything, I definitely care what brand they are because we all know certain brands last longer and hold up better over repeated washing. The last thing I want is to find a pair that are the perfect fit and color wash only to have them bust a hole after 5 months. I want my jeans to last a few years, and still be in good enough condition to send them to consignment or donation.
So in light of this I’ve been researching denim with caution. I’m honestly scared to know if any of my favorite brands are made ethically. Will I have to give up buying new jeans? Will I stop wearing them all together?
One good place to start my quest is by looking for American made jeans. But it’s not that simple. For one, sometimes jeans are designed in the USA, but not constructed here. Or they’re constructed here, but from cotton grown elsewhere. Then there’s the dying process. Much of the denim we wear is dyed in Mexico. This process has caused a lot of damage to the ecology there. According to OnEarth.org “Water samples taken downstream from textile plants in Tehuacan, Mexico, a major denim-producing region, have been shown to contain lead, mercury, cadmium, and selenium. Local farmers complain of chemically burned seedlings and sterile soil.”
Luckily my research has led to some companies, including some of my favorite brands, which lay claim to being made in the USA, including Joe’s Jeans, 7 for all Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, True Religion and Rag and Bone. In fact, my favorite pair of jeans ever were a pair of Joe’s Jeans made from organic cotton. (Sadly they were lost when my then puppy chewed irreparable and unsightly holes in them.) Further investigation will be needed to show if they are completely American made, including cotton growing, dying, construction and packaging. But at least I have a starting point, and I don’t have to feel badly wearing the jeans I already own from these brands!
I will continue to do my research on the quest for ethically made jeans, and when I have more information I will keep you updated. For now, check the tags for made in the USA or buy from consignment shops. Buying previously owned clothing is a great workaround, as you can’t change what’s already been made. Bonus points: you are shopping green when you buy from consignment shops!