By The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
It’s difficult to find a garment as widely embraced, worn, and loved as jeans, they’re iconic. But while we might love them, the way they are designed and made harms the environment and those working in the industry.
The Jeans Redesign project is about creating solutions to those challenges and creating jeans for a world where clothes never become waste, using the principles of the circular economy.
Over sixty leading brands, manufacturers, and fabric mills – including BAM, are using our Jeans Redesign Guidelines to produce jeans that will be available on the market by May 2021.
The circular what?
Our current economy is predominantly linear – we take something out of the ground, make something out of it, and then it gets thrown away at the end of its use (take, make, waste).
In a circular economy, resources are kept in use for as long as possible, the maximum value is extracted whilst in use, and at the end of it’s life the components can be taken out and used again in a new product.
A circular economy is a new way to design, make and use things and is based on the principles of: 1) designing out waste and pollution 2) keeping products and materials in use 3) regenerating natural systems.
So why jeans?
Harmful substances are used at all stages of the production of jeans, impacting garment workers and the environment. Additionally, despite using 2.5% of the world’s arable land, cotton accounts for 16% of all pesticides used, causing serious damage to farmers and the environment.
The truth is, the presence of all these hazardous chemicals makes the recycling process extremely difficult, and can lead to the continued circulation of these severe substances. On top of that, multiple material blends, rivets and trims complicate things further.
What is the Jeans Redesign?
The Jeans Redesign brings the fashion industry together to work to change the way in which jeans are produced and sold, to be circular.
The Jeans Redesign is focused on a set of guidelines, created by the Foundation alongside over 80 denim experts. The guidelines ensure that circular jeans are made in a way in which: they last and are used for longer, can be easily recycled, and are made in a way that is better for the environment and the health of garment workers.
What do circular jeans look like, and what makes them different?
They’re durable and designed to last.
Circular jeans should withstand 30 home laundries as a minimum, while still meeting the quality requirements of the brands. Plus, to make it easier to care for them after purchase, jeans should also include clear product care labels so that we can wear them and love them for a long time instead of discarding them after just 5 or 10 wears.
No hazardous chemicals are used
The material that circular jeans are made from is free of chemicals – so not bad for our skin, or for those who made them. Their production also respects the health, safety, and rights of people directly involved in all parts of the fashion industry.
They are made to be made again
They can easily be recycled and turned into a pair of new jeans for someone else to wear and love. In practice, it means that circular jeans contain less (if any) metal rivets and material blends.
Correct labelling helps identify and sort jeans appropriately after use, helping to make sure they can be safely turned into new jeans.
Circular jeans are no longer just an idea, they’re a reality… and this is just the beginning.
Circular jeans are a great example of how ALL clothing can be made from safe and renewable materials, improved business models can increase the use of clothing items, and old clothes can be turned into new.
Look out for the Jeans Redesign logo on hangtags in stores and online, and to find out more about the project visit: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/our-work/activities/make-fashion-circular/projects/the-jeans-redesign