Sonntag, 12. April 2009
Fair Trade Jeans Special
Recently I have been on a mad hunt for the perfect pair of jeans. Every woman knows how hard it is to find the right fit. Since I have turned into a dyed-in-the-wool fair trade fashion nerd it should be a pair of ethically made jeans of course. Which totally limits my choice, right? However as I started to research I found that there are a number of alternatives to "sewn in a Chinese sweatshop with denim made from pesticide poisioned cotton picked by kids in Usbekistan, total cost of production less than 5$ then sold to customer for 100$" pieces. Okay, I made that quote up but the origin of many jeans really is that gruesome.
The good news: there are companies who care about the people who work for them and the environment so here are my picks of fair trade jeans (in alphabetical order). This list is not complete - if you have more suggestions please leave a comment. I have indicated the country of the company's hq to give you an idea where most of their shops are located. Check their websites for local retailers close to you. Most of these brands are sold online (click here for a list of US & UK webshops - a lot of styles are on sale right now) and many of the brands have their own webshop:
ALBAM (UK): menswear only - three models: Denim Taper Chino, Classic Slim Leg Jean, Straight Leg Jean. All of them "Crafted in England from our sanforized 13oz Japanese selvedge denim."
price range: £75-85
AMERICAN APPAREL (US/Int.): Currently offers three styles: Unisex Mineral Wash Stretch Bull Denim Slim Slack, Unisex Slim Slack - a colored jean available in 12 colors, Four-Way Stretch High-Waist Side Zipper Pant - available in 6 colors. Find out more about how AA treats their workers here.
price range: around 75$
ASCENSION (UK): Low rise bootcut, skinny and boyfriend fitted jeans in three lengths. Their jeans are made with fair trade denim ensuring the cotton farmers are paid a fair price. Manufactured in Bulgaria in a fairly traded low pollutant factory.
Price range: under £60.
DEL FORTE (US): Currently their website presents six different mid-rise styles, slim to flared fits in (stretch) denim. "The garments are sewn and finished in Los Angeles, a fashion-forward city that is a leader in anti-sweatshop legislation and enforcement, as well as being home to the most cutting-edge wash development facilities in the country."
Price range: 100-200$.
GARDEUR (G): Mid-rise bootcut styles in white, colored and blue denim. "We ensure that social and ethical standards are upheld at our sites. We monitor this in annual audits." "Gardeur's "social and progressive working methods were already awarded at our production site in Tunisia back in 2002 with a certificate from the Ministry of Social Affairs of the Republic of Tunisia." (quoted from gardeur.de)
price range: under 100€
GOOD SOCIETY (US): Low rise skinny jeans in blue and colored denim. "Each pair of Good Society jeans is designed in Japan and constructed from 100% organic cotton woven on vintage shuttle looms and hand sewn by skilled workers in India in accordance with Fair Trade regulations. Everything from its hangtags to dyes are eco-friendly and made based on fair labor practices."
Price range: under 100$
HOWIES (UK): Low rise boot cut & skinny fit (stretch) jeans. "We have a formal assesment done on each of our factories to ensure the conditions for the people who produce our clothes are fair, safe and non-discriminatory."
Price range: Most styles £85 and under. £155-225 for their "Kaizen" range:
The Kaizen styles (Japanese for continual improvement) are "woven the old fashioned way on narrow shuttle looms, from our very own organic plantation denim [...]. This denim is unique in that it is naturally irregular. These little irregularities become more visible as the jeans fade and as they age they will develop their very own look and feel. [...] They are tough too, so will last longer than normal jeans. We’ve dyed them using natural indigo dye, a process rarely used these days due to the time it takes to make – 10 months, from planting the seeds through to the finished dye. The yarn is then rope dyed in small batches, using a mixture of different shades, to create a depth of colour that can only be achieved with the use of pure indigo." (quoted from howies.co.uk)
KUYICHI (NL): Kuyichi was launched by the Dutch NGO Solidaridad in 2001: "With Track&Trace by Made-by we give full transparency of our sustainable clothing and fair working conditions. [...] Kuyichi offers a wide variety of fits; from basic super slims to anti-fit workers, all designed with the authentic Kuyichi handwriting." Their denim is made in European mills, 90% of their jeans consist of organic cotton and they are washed in laundries in Italy and Tunisia.
Price range: 80-130€
MACHJA (FR): 4 different styles, two of them for sale at the moment. Machja jeans are made of organic cotton (from Mali, Senegal and Cameroon) certified by Max Havelaar, and are sown and assembled in a Tunisian factory awaiting Max Havelaar certification.
Price range: ca. 50€ (sale price) - 128€
NUDIE JEANS (SE): Unfortunately, the Swedish company Nudie only seems to offer jeans for men but some of their fits probably also work for women: "Nudie jeans are made of the best Italian, Turkish, American and Japanese denim qualitites. [...] All Nudie jeans are fully made in Italy, including sewing, washing and treatments. Some treatments contain twenty stages". (quited from nudiejeans.com - click on the naked truth) Nudie offers indigo-dyed denim made of organic cotton.
Price range: Most styles 99-150€
NU JEANS (FR): This French brand offers three styles for women in dark indigo stretch denim: straight, slim and high-waisted with a flared leg. "Our products are sourced from selected suppliers who work in accordance with strict social and environmental standards. We build long term and sustainable business relationships with our suppliers. We prefinance orders to cover for producers need during production time when required." "An important part of our supply is controlled with local NGOs in order to ensure that the producers’ working conditions contribute to their development, and that both pricing and business relationships are fair." (quoted from le-jeans-nu.com > about nu > the nu charter)
price range: 129-139€
SHARKAH CHAKRA (UK): Currently offers five different styles of cigarette to bootcut fit including "the first ever white jean to be made totally organically and without bleach. We have perfected this exclusive pure white finish by baking the denim in the sun naturally in the foothills of India." "We aim to care for all the artisans involved in making our denims; the Fairtrade cotton farmers, the indigo farmers, the indigo dyeing craftsmen, the hand loom weavers, the tailors and the laundry masters." "Each jean takes 6 months to make from the time that the organic Fairtrade cotton is harvested in Africa to the jeans being hand finished in Italy. The fabric alone is woven by one artisan who makes enough denim for 2 pairs of jeans per day. We ask all our artisans to sign the denim that they make [pictured above]" (quoted from sharkahchakra.com).
Price range: around £200 Further reading:
Top 10 Ethical Jeans Brands (greenmystyle.com)
Cotton on to Fairtrade jeans (guardian.co.uk)
Forever in Green Jeans (the-coveted.com)
picture credit: 1 - americanapparel.net, 2 - howies.co.uk, 3 - delforte.com, 4 - gardeur.de, 5 - goodsociety.org, 6 - kuyichi.com, 7 - machja.com, 8 - sharkachakra.com