Navigating the frontier of denim brands can be overwhelming especially when every season fashion editors and influencers profess which styles to covet and the denim “Don’ts” we’re told to discard. This proliferation of endless trends is intended to keep us rifling through our closets, tossing out last year’s kick flare for this year’s stovepipe. It’s also one of the reasons that the global denim market boasts more than $66 billion in annual sales; mainstream brands are capitalizing on a heavily marketed message that it’s quantity over quality. Of course the global adoption of more denim is also due to the fact that denim jeans are incredibly versatile, available in nearly any size, style and price point and with formal business attire a thing of the past, an everyday wear. Still, this turnover of new styles is antithetical to the fundamental nature of jeans: a workhouse clothing staple that when designed thoughtfully, should last longer than any fad. Despite a culture of mass consumption in the fashion world, there’s a growing crew of shoppers choosing to shop with intention, embracing the tenets of slow fashion: quality garments designed to last that support a sustainable supply chain and fair manufacturing. These discerning shoppers want to buy from brands that share these same values but they also aren’t willing to sacrifice style; this is a slow fashion movement after all.
When we founded Bluer Denim, it was with the intention of bringing timeless denim styles to market using sustainable materials, ethical production and a transparent supply chain. Our classic cuts don’t go out of style and we source quality denim that wears well over time. We also choose to limit our production to just a few styles to focus on fewer, better pieces and reduce surplus inventory so we aren’t contributing to a wasteful industry. That also means we might not have all the styles you’re looking for. Because we believe in promoting like-minded designers and sharing the love, we’ve rounded up a list of our fave denim lines-- including ours, cuz we’re proud of what we do-- so you can support sustainability and ethical manufacturing whether it’s theirs or ours.
Top 5 Sustainable Denim Brands for Those Who Care
1: Bluer Denim, Men’s & Women’s denim jeans
The Creds: Designed in Portland and manufactured in the USA in a sewing facility in Los Angeles known for its innovative approach to denim construction that minimizes waste. We source our sustainable denim from organizations that we vet for ethical working conditions. To help alleviate denim waste, Bluer offers the Denim Rescue program where customers can send in their old jeans for credit toward a new pair, with usable jeans donated to a local shelter and unsalvageable ones used for insulation.
The Styles: Classic straights in raw indigo and raw black denim plus a modern slim made from selvage denim.
The Cost: From $178
2: Ginew: Unisex denim jeans
The Creds: Ginew is the only Native American-owned denim brand in the world. Owned and operated in Portland, Oregon by husband and wife Erik and Amanda, their designs incorporate elements of their Ojibwe, Oneida, & Mohican heritage to express a contemporary Native American voice though premium apparel and accessories. Denim jeans are made of Japanese selvage denim and are cut and sewn in the US with some styles featuring a hunted deerskin leather patch, honoring their traditional clothing. In partnership with Indigo Proof, they offer credit towards any first repair of their jeans.
The Styles: Straight leg and full upper, tapered leg cuts, made of American and Japanese selvage in indigo and black.
The Cost: From $235.
3: Imogen and Willie: Men’s & Women’s denim jeans and separates
The Creds: Founded by husband and wife team in Nashville who were on the quest to design the perfect premium pair of jeans that were made in the USA and designed to last. They started with one style for men and then created the female companion, focused on fit rather than trends. In support of a sustainable cycle, they offer free repairs on any denim jeans within a year of purchase.
The Styles: Slim, straight and skinny styles for men and women in indigo, overdyed black and natural denim with some selvage styles.
The Cost: From $235
4: Railcar Fine Goods: Men’s & Women’s denim jeans
The Creds: Founder Steven Dang saw a need for premium workwear and built a workshop where all design and manufacturing of his jeans is done in-house in Monrovia, CA. Denim is globally sourced and styles are cut to order. They also offer denim alterations for anyone who wants their denim mended or re-sized, regardless of brand.
The Styles: Straight, slim-tapered, full-tapered, and both mid- and high-rise skinny stretch.
The Cost: From $140
5: Raleigh Denim Workshop: Men’s & Women’s denim jeans and separates
The Creds: Born from the desire to create the perfect pair of quality denim jeans, founders Sarah and Victor started by dismantling numerous pairs of vintage denim and teaching themselves construction. Now, their jeans are produced in-house in Raleigh, NC, in their own factory located behind their retail store. Each pair of jeans come numbered with the batch number and are signed on the interior with the name of the “jeansmith” who sewed that pair.
The Styles: Thin taper, Slim, Tapered, Relaxed, mid- and high-rise skinny and straight in raw and stretch denim with some selvage styles.
The Cost: From $195