As part of its circular economy initiative called Make Fashion Circular UK-based charity The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has just launched a guideline for responsible jeans production.
Named “The Jeans Redesign” the guideline gathered more than 40 denim experts from academia, brands, retailers, manufacturers, collectors, sorters and NGOs to develop and to commit to certain sourcing, production and distribution standards: “Based on the principles of the circular economy, the guidelines will work to ensure jeans last longer, can easily be recycled and are made in a way that is better for the environment and the health of garment workers,” it says in an official statement.
Among the industry players that want to commit to The Jeans Redesign are mills as well as brands and retailers including Arvind Limited, Bestseller (through the Vero Moda brand), Boyish Jeans, C&A, GAP, Hirdaramani, H&M Group (through the H&M and Weekday brands), HNST, Kipas, Lee, Mud Jeans, Outerknown, Reformation, Saitex and Tommy Hilfiger.
Additional participants are invited to get involved if they are willing to fulfill the newly set production standards.
The Jeans Redesign addresses to several steps and aspects along the production chain. Here are the main ones as listed by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (the detailed requirements are available via two reports available on www.EllenMacArthurFoundation.org that also document the parameters and verification standards such as GOTS that each participant applies to guarantee the new production guidelines):
- Jeans should withstand a minimum of 30 home laundries, while still meeting the minimum quality requirements of the brands
- Garments should include labels with clear information on product care
2. Material Health
- Jeans should be produced using cellulose fibers from regenerative, organic or transitional farming methods
- Jeans should be free of hazardous chemicals and conventional electroplating. Stone finishing, potassium permanganate (PP) and sandblasting are prohibited
- Jeans should be made with a minimum of 98% cellulose fibers (by weight)
- Metal rivets should be designed out, or reduced to a minimum
- Any additional material added to the jeans should be easy to disassemble
- Information that confirms each element of the Guideline requirements has been met should be made easily available
- Organizations that meet the requirements will be granted permission to use the Jeans Redesign Logo on jeans produced in line with the Guidelines
- Jeans Redesign Logo use will be reassessed annually, based on compliance with reporting requirements
The official press release announced that “the first pairs of the redesigned jeans will be on sale in 2020,” while the leading participants will “collectively produce around 430,000 jeans that meet the Guidelines by May 2021 at the latest.”
[Editor’s note: To put this in relation: Around 1.2 billion pairs of jeans are produced each year. Source: Statisticbrain.com (2016), Denim Jeans Industry Statistics; Levi Strauss & Co. (2015), The Life Cycle of a Jean; via Redress]