High Street Brands That Are Manufacturing Denim the Ethical Way

American denim has certainly come a long way. As we discussed in a previous post, a few years back and throughout all those years, the industry has had to face questions regarding their manufacturing practices. In fact, denim has been described as “one of the least ethical items you can buy” by Catalogue. This is largely due to the difficulties in growing and harvesting cotton, which is the primary material used to make denim.

All hope is not lost, though, as there are several high street brands that manufacture denim the ethical way. Here are some of them:


The Good Trade report that this New York-based denim company “uses innovative eco-friendly fibers”, and it has even reduced by an astonishing 50% its water, dye, and energy usage. Additionally, DL1961 has collaborated with Honest Company co-founder Jessica Alba to bring attention to the ethics of denim production. Even more, the brand’s patented technologies such as TENCEL and ProModal, which it incorporates in both its men and women’s denim line, increases the durability and sustainability of its products. The company is fashion-forward, too, and that means DL1961 won’t ever commit any of the denim faux pas chronicled by Pretty Me. These include mom jeans with plastic panels and thong jeans. Then again, what else would one expect from a brand that counts the aforementioned Alba as partner, right?

Blue Denim

All-American-made Blue Denim jeans uses cotton grown in Georgia and milled in North Carolina. The zippers are made in Kentucky, and the final products go through eco-friendly ozone laundry processes in Los Angeles. Moreover, the company has introduced a 1 for 1 give back model where Blue Denim will buy back a used pair for $5 from someone purchasing a new one. The bought back pair will be refurbished and ultimately given to someone else who really needs a pair of denim jeans. So, big ticks for this Ohio-based business for ethical manufacturing, recycling, and corporate social responsibility.


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Durability and functionality have always been hallmarks of Patagonia jeans, but it is high time that the brand gets credit for its sustainable and green practices. Its jeans are made from 100% organic cotton, and like Blue Denim, Patagonia also offers a buy back option for worn-out pairs—that is, if you can wear out their extremely durable pair of jeans.

Imogene + Willie

Known for its craftsmanship, Imogene + Willie is an all-American brand that pays careful attention to even the minutest of details in the manufacturing business. It is also known for its ethical practices, which while not as innovative as say, DL1961’s or Blue Denim’s, are quite fair and principled nonetheless. Moreover, the company’s products are, with proper care, designed to last a lifetime.

Noble Denim

This brand introduced a Design Your Own program where customers get to choose the perfect size, fit, color, and patches for their jeans. As such, Noble Denim produces jeans pretty much by order only, which reduces the amount of waste and unused materials. The company is also committed to carbon neutral shipping.

It’s unfortunate that the topic of ethical manufacturing is still being talked about as an issue but the fact that there are companies with fair and honorable business practices is an encouraging sign nonetheless. The hope now is for more denim brands to follow suit.

Author: Allison Kramer