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The best sustainable denim brands in the UK

February 15, 2022
Eloise Webb

Once a workman’s textile, now an iconic piece of fashion. Jeans are one of the most popular clothing items of our time, with most individuals having several pairs. Given their identity in 1873 by two Americans, Jacob David and Levi Strauss, they quickly rose to fame. Most should recognise the second name as the iconic brand still in vogue today, Levi.

What is Denim?

Denim is a strong and durable cotton blend that is made using a twill weave. This means the fabric has a diagonal ribbing visible on the face of the fabric. Their durability makes them a great item to have as they are sure to withstand the test of time.

Even though they make for a great garment, the impact had on the planet can not be ignored. Research conducted by Fashion Revolution found that 9,500 litres of water could be used on just one pair of jeans. This is largely down to the cotton production; on average it takes 10,000-20,000 litres of water to cultivate just one kilogram of raw cotton. Another large environmental issue is found in the dying process, around 28 billion Kilograms of textiles are dyed per annum, which uses over 5 trillion litres of water. *

In an effort to change these alarming factors there are now denim brands with sustainability at the forefront of their practice. Here are our favourites!

1. Revival London

Revival London is a London based fashion reconstruction brand. They specialise in the reconstruction of repurposed waste. They promote a slow fashion ideology as they only produce limited edition contemporary pieces using textiles originally destined for landfill.

They are well aware of the harm the fashion industry is having on the environment and so are looking to offer a solution to at least some of the problem. They want to propose a new way of thinking when it comes to clothes, for people to see the potential of unwanted and unworn clothes.

They understand that the laundering of garments is another large polluter and so work with Oxwash to ensure all materials collected from landfills are washed in the most sustainable way possible.

Starting from £99

2. nudie jeans

Nudie Jeans is a brand that puts the environment at the centre of its focus. They have a comprehensive and fully transparent account of their practices and make sure all their jeans are made from 100% organic cotton. They also offer a repair service for their jeans in an effort to extend the garment's life once in the consumer phase.

A final service they offer is a rebirth program that allows customers to return their denim and have it turned into new items such as bucket hats or badges.

Starting from £100

3. dl1961

Dl1961 is a denim company that is looking to raise the bar not only for themselves, but for the denim industry at large.

They pride themselves on having the most efficient production methods possible when it comes to manufacturing denim. This is because they want to ensure longevity through high quality. The waste issue facing the planet is no secret, dl1961 is tackling it head-on by taking your old items, such as jeans and plastic bottles, and turning them into new denim.

Like, Oxwash, they have a water recycled process, this allows them to reduce the water usage that is usually needed in producing cotton.

Starting from £79

4. E.L.V Denim

E.L.V Denim is an East London vintage denim store that takes old jeans from landfills and reworks them into a stylish new design.

This company was born from the idea of an ethos of zero waste. As they are taking materials that are already in circulation, they have zero impact on the environment during the production phase. Due to this they only use 7 litres to wash the post-consumer denim waste as opposed to 9,000 litres needed for a new pair. They pride themselves on this as they know with each pair of jeans they sell, they have saved enough drinking water to sustain a human life for 13 years.

The owner, Anna Foster wants to ensure that her business has the lowest carbon footprint possible and helps to support the local community through the hiring of local alteration workers.

Starting from £250


Now we wouldn’t be a laundry if we didn’t share best practice for washing your new jeans!

Here are our top recommendations for the aftercare of your denim.

There are two main types of denim to look out for. The first is raw denim, this is a fabric that is unwashed and untreated and benefits from being worn in. This can take up to 6 months and it allows the dye to settle and the fabric to shape around the body. After the initial 6 months, you can look to wash them more regularly, however, it’s important to keep in mind that with each wash they will fade a little more. We recommend washing every 3 months.

The second type is washed/treated denim, this can be washed more frequently but once a month is usually a good rule of thumb. However this is just a guideline, if you are wearing them cycling every day, they might be washed more regularly!

When you wash your denim, you should be prepared for slight shrinkage due to the nature of cotton. When buying new jeans try to bear this in mind and size up. Wearing the jeans will stretch them again but only widthways, not length. For minimal shrinkage make sure you are washing at a temperature of 20 degrees and on a very low spin (the spin is what drains the colour).

When choosing a washing detergent, a specialist colour preserving one would work well, however, a mild non-bleach one can work too. Make sure that once you have cleaned your jeans you leave them to hang dry, tumble drying is a sure way to encounter shrinkage.

Still not sure about washing your denim for fear of ruining it, maybe try the freezer! Airing and then freezing is a great way to kill any nasty bacteria.

A final bit of advice, if you need to spot clean be very careful when treating raw denim, if the colour has not set properly you could end up damaging the garment for good! If you do think the jeans need some spot treatment we recommend sending them to us and letting our trained professional get them back to their glory.  

*Image Credit: https://www.thesustainablebusinessgroup.com/source/filemanager/files/GLASA_report_v6_14

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