Through fairness, responsibility, and transparency, Nudie Jeans is changing the model for sustainable denim across the globe. In 2018, while catering to consumer demand for fashion-forward styles, the company also repaired over 55,000 pairs of jeans, collected over 10,000 pairs for reuse, and saved 386 million litres of water. Sandya Lang, Nudie Jeans’ Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, describes the thought behind the brand’s environmental care, and the emphasis the Swedish denim label places on furthering the eco-friendly fashion movement and breaking the cycle of fast consumerism.
Parvati Magazine: In terms of sustainability and creating less waste, what are some actions that Nudie Jeans has taken in recent years that separates the brand from other conscious denim brands?
Nudie Jeans: Nudie Jeans is trying to take responsibility from raw material to final product and beyond; therefore, the sustainability journey starts when choosing to work only with sustainable materials—and in particular organic cotton—which, in the cultivation stage, have water-saving techniques with rainfed (not groundwater) drip water irrigation. In the production stages, we work with some of the best fabric producers who have high technology for making the garment. All water is cleaned and treated before it is released, and at some of our fabric suppliers, the water can be recycled and reused. When we come to the user phase, we encourage the customer to wear their jeans for a long time, and to not wash them for the first six months to create their unique break in. Thereafter, if the jeans are broken, we repair them for free. You can hand in the old ones at a Nudie Jeans repair store, and you´ll get a discount on a new pair. Your old pair will be integrated in our reuse range and sold again. We also use old pairs to patch repaired jeans or for new recycling projects. We have made rugs, camping seats, caps, etc., and are now looking into using old Nudie Jeans to make a new denim fabric. Prolonging the life of the garment generates less waste and saves a lot of water, as compared to producing entirely new jeans and products.
Parvati Magazine: Why “Nudie”? What is the story behind the brand’s name?
Nudie Jeans: The name Nudie Jeans is a word game about “the naked truth of denim,” which is about the journey of breaking in a pair of jeans, transparency, and the denim lifestyle.
Parvati Magazine: Why does Nudie Jeans take that extra step in ensuring compassionate production and environmental care, via activities such as free repairs and recycling projects?
Nudie Jeans: This is a conscious choice from the owners of the company to take responsibility for the products we make, not only in the supply chain but also after sales and beyond. A life-cycle perspective is necessary if you want to make a fully sustainable product.
Parvati Magazine: What does “slow fashion” mean to Nudie? Why is this slowing down crucial in not only the production process, but also in society’s pattern of consumption? What is Nudie Jeans doing to support this slowdown?
Nudie Jeans: Nudie Jeans started as a reaction to the fast fashion way of producing and consuming. We offer not only jeans but also a way of thinking: we educate our consumers on how to value and take care of your garment to prolong its life. By having a core product of dry jeans, which require a long time for breaking in, and by being transparent about how we work in the supply chain, we hope that we can explain a bit of the complexity in the textile production chain, and make the customer value the product more. Making a garment requires a lot of people who need to have good working conditions and salaries, and it requires a lot of water and energy, too. It is time we all recognize the impact fast fashion has on people and the planet so that we can buy more consciously and slow down the consumption pattern—not only on clothes, but also in general. We are, for example, transparent about our suppliers’ working conditions.
Parvati Magazine: How resilient are your jeans? Does using recycled material affect how long they will last?
Nudie Jeans: When we have elaborated with recycled materials, we have combined them with new organic cotton to make the jeans maintain the best quality. If we increase the amount of recycled materials, the feel, look, and quality will be different. From a life-cycle perspective, we prefer to work with as few material combinations as possible, since blended materials are difficult to recycle. We try to put focus on first using the garments longer, repairing, and reusing. Recycling comes last, as that is also an energy-consuming process.
Parvati Magazine: What measures can be taken by consumers to further the sustainable, eco-fashion movement?
Nudie Jeans: Consumers can start to ask their preferred brands how the garments were made, ask for more transparency about the social and environmental conditions at the production locations, buy organic, buy quality over quantity, and use products for a long time!
Founded in Gothenburg in 2001, Nudie Jeans has been recognized for their work with sustainability, both environmental and social. With a denim collection made from 100% organic cotton and transparent production, the Swedish denim company has taken a prominent role in the fashion industry’s work for a more sustainable denim and garment production.