Ecofriendly clothing has come a long way since the stiff hippie days of hemp wear, when sustainable garments were as malleable and soft to the touch as a potato sack. As for jeans, they weren't even really on the menu at that point. But thanks to technical advances and some dedicated clothiers, it's possible to manufacture smokin' hot organic denim threads these days. So if you want meaner, greener jeans, you've got plenty to choose from. Here are a few of the new looks this fall.
DRT Jeans Around the time Dish Jeans president Gary Lenett was thinking about launching a men's denim division, he read somewhere that the average American tosses out about 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year.
“That's a lot of fast fashion that people buy then throw away, or they just don't use anymore,” says Donald Johannesson, creative and design director for DRT, Dish's line of men's jeans. “So he was thinking, ”˜How can we overcome this and help avoid all this [clothing] from going into landfills?' ”
With that challenge in mind, the Vancouver-based company created a line of organic and organic-blend jeans that look stylish for more than one season. There's the Braeden, a low-rise boot cut, and the Kieren, a relaxed straight-leg, both of which come in three washes.
These trend-right jeans ($88 to $98) aren't overly processed, meaning that DRT is using fewer nasty chemicals to get that worn-in look. Plus, it doesn't take away from the durability of the fabric. And let's face it: the fewer holes they have in their pants, the less likely guys are to throw those blue-cotton bad boys in the trash (hair-metal musicians notwithstanding).
Second Clothing At Second Clothing, founder and creative director Eric Wazana is stringent when it comes to making environmentally sustainable denim. Every pair of his Eco Jeans ($110 to $130)—which you can get at Plum Clothing (various locations), Roots (various locations), and Hum Clothing (3623 Main Street)—must adhere to six standards.
First, he only uses 100-percent-organic cotton. Second, all denim has to be washed in a chemical-free rinse. Third, 90 percent of the fabric that's bought must be used in making the jeans.
“So what happens is a lot of the pieces have to be cut by hand,” says Wazana, calling from his Montreal headquarters. “There is a lot of waste, generally speaking [when you're cutting out markers]. If you're really, really good, you can get close to 80 percent. But we took it up that extra notch.”
Other measures include using scrap metal as much as possible when it comes to rivets, buttons, and zippers; manufacturing the denim right in Montreal; and using a water-efficient washing machine.
This season, his hottest look for men is the Morrison, a brand-new blue-grey crosshatch denim that's somewhere between a skinny and a straight-leg. For the ladies, the flattering Savannah—a mid-rise boot cut—is back by popular demand.
“It's just a very forgiving jean,” Wazana says. “It's not super tight. But it holds your body and it gives phenomenal butt”¦ Ahhh, I mean it really emphasizes your assets.”
Mavi For the makers of Mavi, going green is all about picking the right cut. “Given that we've kind of had this organic line for a while already [since 2006], we kind of know what kind of customers go for that kind of style,” says Cora Mau, public-relations and marketing manager for Mavi Canada. “Last season, we put it in Kate [$98], which is a low-rise flare. It's a little bit more of a hippie kind of look. And then we put it in more universal fits, like Olivia [$98 to $118], our straight-leg cut.”
For men, there are a couple of styles, including the Martin ($118). While this low-rise, straight-leg, dark-wash jean is nowhere near hipsterville, they're stylish in a trend-right kind of way.
“Being ecofriendly doesn't mean that we can't be fashionable as well,” Mau says.