Sustainability in Fashion

The real cost of your favorite jeans isn’t just the price

Photo: Young women sitting by a waterfall

Jeans are one of those items that are a must-have in anyone’s closet and they usually carry one of the bigger price tags of your wardrobe. But, have you ever stopped to think about the real cost of your favorite pair?

Making the denim that we wear day after day requires resources.. and a TON of them.

Denim comes from cotton often grown in soil that is filled with harmful fertilizers and pesticides. The global demand for cotton (which is used in nearly half of all textiles, according to the World Wildlife Fund) has also led to over-farmed, barren land and soil erosion, which affects the health of the entire planet [Vogue]. Once the cotton is grown and harvested, they have to convert the raw material into usable thread by using water. Sure that sounds easy enough, but this process combined with dying and bleaching to make that trendy pair of jeans uses an insane amount of H2O. Some companies use up to 1,500 gallons of water to create ONE PAIR of denim jeans. 

That all sounds harsh and not typically the kind of thing that makes you want to rush out and buy more clothes. But don’t worry, this article isn’t meant to make you feel guilty about those go-to jeans that fit just right, but rather to educate you so that your next perfect pair can come from a company who loves the environment as much as you love the jeans they make.

As far as new denim is concerned, Sarah Ahmed, CEO of Warp + Weft jeans and whose family also founded DL1961 jeans, has been passionate about sustainability for more than a decade; her family’s factories are vertically integrated, meaning every step—spinning the yarn, weaving the fabric, finishing the garment—happens all in the same facility. Her family invested in water-reduction technology early on—a pair of her company’s jeans is made with just 10 gallons of water, and 98% of it is recycled—and they were the first to introduce Modal and Lyocell, which are low-impact and biodegradable cellulose fibers [Vogue]. Since the Warp + Weft’s launch in 2017, they’ve sold more than 477,000 pairs of jeans and saved more than 572.4 million gallons of water.

It must feel good to make such an impact on both the market and the environment!

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