Deadly denim or clean jeans; how to choose

By Kate | News
Posted Apr 3, 2012

It’s not fair. Jeans. Denim. Dungerees; a staple in wardrobes around the world are still posing environmental and ethical risks. Two of the greatest issues on watch are: water consumption in production and worker safety in the case of sandblasting. News to report on both fronts:

New technology for using less water, for designers:

Clariant has developed a product that that unites technological and ecological advances with great denim effects. The new Diresul Indicolor dyes from Clariant enhance denim’s look and feel, add a vast range of new shades and wash-down effects, and create finishes that leave indigo-based denims trailing behind. Compared to conventional technologies, Advanced Denim can offer designers better color fastness and improved reproducibility of color tones and shades. At the same time, Advanced Denim also enables resource-saving production: significantly lower water consumption (92% less), less power (30% less), less waste cotton (63%) and no waste-water treatment.

Less water for consumers:

Several denim companies are already on the water bandwagon. Look for Levi’s Water<Less™ Jeans - an effort by the company to reduce water consumption during production. Prices range from $78 to $178 USD.

Avoiding deadly denim:

New research shows that sandblasting is continuing in production, despite the effort of the Clean Clothes Campaign, an alliance of organisations in 15 European countries dedicated to improving working conditions and supporting the empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industries.

Their new report, Deadly Denim, released last week found that large factories exporting jeans overseas continue to use sandblasting; the process was proved to cause fatal lung diseases, including silicosis. This new report reveals that regardless of whether a brand has ‘banned’ sandblasting or not, sandblasting – both manual and mechanical – is still commonly used.

Second Denim Co., commonly referred to as “Yoga Jeans” in Canada for their unbelievable stretch, confirmed to Magnifeco that they do not do any sandblasting at all. “If you take a look at our styles,  you will see that the jeans are all overdye fabrics using the least amount of chemicals possible,” said Second Denim‘s Stephanie Quesnel. “All our models with distressing our actually hand sanded to give them each a unique feel, very surprising in 2012 but these details are all done precisely by hand!” Only for women, prices start at $120 CAD, buy from Mudshark Streetwear.

Mud Jeans is a Dutch brand that focuses on men and women between 25 and 40 years who are conscious about sustainable fashion. From day one it was crucial to the founders that the collections of Mud Jeans be produced as sustainably as possible. And so Mud Jeans started doing things differently: every party in the production chain was identified in terms of social and environmental aspects and organised in the most sustainable way. Suppliers of Mud Jeans posses a range of eco-certificates including GOTS. Prices start at €79,95, site is in Dutch.

How to ensure you are buying clean jeans? Read the labels, check the website of your favourite brands, and if you can’t find the answer, error on the side of caution and boycott sandblasted denim.

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