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Fashion technology is advancing rapidly, streamlining production processes and reducing waste. This is exciting news for luxury labels as they strive to create more sustainable and ethical garments.

Ethical jeans are made with premium fabrics and innovative technology that reduce their impact on the planet and its people. From recycling post-consumer waste into new textiles to using cutting-edge machinery to wash and treat the material, there’s no shortage of ways brands can make a difference.

The best sustainable jeans brands have the power to drive change by providing safe working conditions, using eco-friendly materials, and reducing environmental impact. The precedent they set for high-quality fabrics, expert construction, and uncompromising standards radiates outward into their daily practices, challenging other labels to keep up. 


Jeans are one of fashion’s most universal wardrobe staples, but many people don’t know how denim is made. Although fabric blends are common, pure denim is produced from 100% cotton using a twill weave. The twill weave gives the cotton a unique diagonal pattern that looks grainy and textured once dyed and interwoven with white threads. The dye that was originally used for denim was derived from the natural indigo plant, but today’s denim jeans typically get their color from synthetic indigo.

After the denim cloth is produced, it’s treated with various chemicals to achieve the desired look and feel. Finally, the jeans are washed several times to ensure no dye bleeds out of the fabric once it’s in the hands of the consumer.


Denim is an intensive fabric to produce. The water and power used to grow the cotton, weave the material, and chemically treat the fabric is environmentally demanding. But can this signature fabric be more sustainable? Designer brands are striving to do just that.

Sustainable denim extends beyond using organic cotton and offsetting carbon emissions, encompassing every aspect of the production process—reduced water usage, recycled water, a more efficient supply chain, less harmful synthetic dyes, and reduced packaging.

Here are some of the ways denim can be more sustainable:

Conscious fabric and farming

The first step brands can take to be more sustainable is to start at the very beginning with the cotton crops that are grown. Growing certified organic cotton ensures no harsh fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides will run off the agricultural field and contaminate the watershed or surrounding ecosystem. Some brands support regenerative farming practices that ensure soil health is a top priority. Healthy soil is essential to growing bountiful cotton plants that can naturally fend off pests and diseases.

Besides cultivating new crops, brands can recycle discarded denim and deadstock fabric, break it into scraps, and weave it into entirely new pieces. Using existing materials reduces the water needed to nurture new cotton plants and keeps the fabric in circulation. Stretch denim often includes synthetic blends like spandex to stretch the cotton, but sustainable brands look to natural alternatives like rubber to go plastic-free.

Treatment and washes

Denim production requires harsh chemicals and softeners to reach the desired final look. Acknowledging the water waste created by these chemically intensive practices, designer labels have found innovative methods to wash and treat denim in a less degrading way. One popular method is the ozone wash, which uses ozone gas’s lightening effect to reduce bleach and harsh chemical washing. Some brands use laser technology to distress denim, further reducing the chemicals needed to manually embellish the fabric.

Facilities and supply chains

Sustainable fashion extends beyond the field, fabric, and washes—the best jeans brands are transparent about their carbon footprint and analyze each stage of their supply chain to become more environmentally conscious. This includes striving to build zero-waste systems, using renewable energy, and partnering with suppliers that use sustainable practices to transport raw materials and finished products.


Think of eco-conscious jeans as an investment designed to be cherished for many years. Designer brands pay careful attention to the construction of these garments to ensure they will stand the test of time.

Here are five sustainable denim brands that keep the environment at the forefront of their business:


Triarchy High-Rise Wide-Leg Jeans

Triarchy jeans come in various high-rise, wide-leg cuts, baggy cargo styles, and straight-leg designs. The label uses responsibly farmed fabrics and constructs its sustainable denim from a blend of Tencel and cotton. All Triarchy stretch denim is produced using organic cotton and natural rubber, creating the first plastic-free stretch denim on the market. This process prevents microplastics from entering the watershed. Triarchy’s Atelier Denim line even repurposes abandoned vintage denim into new pairs of jeans to further reduce the burden on the planet.


DL1961 is a family-owned fashion brand that produces premium denim garments with sustainability at the center. The brand shreds old denim and post-consumer waste into small pieces before weaving these materials into yarn to produce new fabric. The jeans are then finished with waterless laser technology to achieve the desired distressed look. Nearly 100% of the water used during production is then treated and recycled in an in-house treatment plant.


Boyish jeans are inspired by vintage silhouettes with youthful distressed styles and raw hems. All jeans are created using natural plant-based dye or Dystar indigo, which uses 80% fewer sulfates than traditional synthetic indigo. Additionally, the brand uses organic cotton, recycled cotton, deadstock fabrics, and Tencel Lyocell for its designs.


AGOLDE Cooper Relaxed Straight Cargo Jeans

AGOLDE’s denim collection is built with sustainable fabrics and materials. The cotton is grown using regenerative farming practices, which supports soil health and increases soil biodiversity to create a healthy and effective growing environment. The cotton is then made into blue jeans and treated using sustainable methods, such as ozone washing, laser finishing, and green-certified softeners.

AGOLDE also makes sustainable leather products using recycled leatherized wool and polyester. This combination uses 90% less water than genuine leather and keeps discarded leather out of landfills.


Etica carries a diverse selection of silhouettes, including high-rise flared styles, slim-fit straight-legs, and relaxed-taper jeans, and it all begins with sustainable sourcing. Every fabric comes from local suppliers that hold sustainable standards and ethical practices at their core. All cotton is produced in accordance with the Better Cotton Initiative, ensuring fewer fertilizers and pesticides are used. Currently, 70% of the brand’s cotton is grown using organic practices, and the rest is sourced from ethical suppliers in the United States.


The best sustainable jeans are a great place to start building an eco-friendly wardrobe, but Neiman Marcus’ commitment to sustainability goes far beyond denim. Book an in-store or virtual appointment with a Neiman Marcus style advisor for one-on-one help exploring environmentally conscious designer labels so you can dress head to toe in clothes that look great and make a difference.