Everyone has a pair of jeans. The question is: how do we get the most out of them? At the least cost ethically and environmentally.
Over 5,500 litres of water are required to grow the cotton for one pair of jeans. There’s a further 7,500 litres of water needed to actually produce them. A process which brings with it pollution in the form of dyes. Countries where jeans are produced – India and Bangladesh are just two – have rivers devoid of life as a result of run-off from denim factories. Yet local communities still rely on these water sources for daily drinking and bathing. The resulting health complications go without saying.
You can choose to opt out of this cycle.
If you’re buying new, a spend of £200 is a worthwhile investment and more sustainable than cheaper high-street brands that wear faster: a quality pair of jeans can be worn for between five and 10 years. For the extra ethical push, brands like Mih (https://www.mih-jeans.com) and Citizens of Humanity (https://www.citizensofhumanity.co.uk) are a great choice. Both buy ethical materials, reduce environmental pollution and use trusted manufacturers to ensure impeccable employment standards.
Of course for us the best option is to enter the circular economy and go second-hand. Many pairs that MOTC source have only been worn a handful of times and have so much life left. If we’re hunting for jeans in thrift, we typically look for weightier brands like Frame (https://frame-store.com), J Brand (https://www.jbrandjeans.com), Rag & Bone (https://www.rag-bone.com) and 7 For All Mankind (https://www.7forallmankind.co.uk/en_en).
These are all American labels. But we’re also huge fans of Japanese denim. Japan has something called ‘mottani’. Which is, essentially, a fear of waste. If you have one thing you take care of that one thing. And it gets better as it gets older. You’ll find any jeans under the Okayama (https://www.okayamadenim.com) umbrella and (surprisingly) Uniqlo (https://www.uniqlo.com/uk/en/home) are made with this philosophy in mind.
Vintage looms and traditional techniques transform the process into a work of art, rather than a job for underpaid labourers. The indigo dye used is natural, with less of an environmental effect than its synthetic cousin. This denim has a higher cotton count too. Meaning it’s built to last. Which, when jeans were originally just workman’s wear, is what the material was designed for.
Mother of the Cloth is a collective of stylists, fashion buyers, photographers, environmentalists and thrifting experts.
Together, they aim to counteract fast fashion and the negativity of social media, and bring sustainability and self-esteem back into vogue.