The Importance of Sustainable Denim in an Eco-Conscious World


Soma Parven

Is denim sustainable? or not? – there are such many questions facing in the current denim market. Denim is the most popular fabric in the present world, day by day it has established itself and increasing its popularity. On the other hand, traditionally it has negative impact on the environment. That’s why it can be classified as a sustainable fabric is a little less obvious. Currently the number of environmentally conscious people is increasing that’s why many questions have been raised about the sustainability of denim.

Why is denim not sustainable?

People of all ages like to wear denim fabrics as the popular pant style. When it comes to the discussion of sustainability in denim, the first topic comes in our mind, is the denim manufacturing. Historically the denim manufacturing process is not sustainable because the production of denim is wasteful and destructive. Due to polluted water issue it has many negative impact on the environment.

Environmental Impacts of Denim

Denim is one of the most used items in the world for many years. The environmental impact of denim manufacture is significant. On one hand it is a product made out of cotton, where cotton is a water-intensive crop.  Traditionally, 1,800gallons of water used to make one pair of blue jeans. The production of denim also involves several chemical washes where water is polluted. Above 70% of Asia’s rivers and lakes are contaminated by garments production where denim is the major contributor.  Another major issue in the denim manufacturing process is the dyeing of the denim but it is also environmentally toxic and expensive. Denim is not only harmful to the environment, it’s also harmful for the workers.

 Making Denim More Sustainable

Consumers are conscious in their clothing choices; they are looking for sustainable product. So, many apparel brands are aware about producing denim in a sustainable way. To make denim more sustainable following issues can be pointed out-

  1. Growing the use of organic cotton: Organic cotton reduce the use of toxic and pesticides, It have a low impact on environment that’s why the grown of organic cotton used in denim manufacturing.
  2. Dry techniques of denim manufacturing: The dry techniques of denim manufacturing can be combined with wet process where scraping, grinding and distressing techniques are used to produce unique looks and performance.
  3. Eco-Friendly dyes: Natural indigo dyes are used as environment-friendly reducing agents which reduce water wastage and produce sustainable denim.
  4. Recycle of denim: Old and used denim can be recycled creatively. The unused wasted material also can be recycled, about 1500tonnes of wasted material have been recycled into new denim where 50million liters of water have been saved.
  5. Enzyme finish in denim washing: Washing processes are creating sustainable solutions. Eco-friendly chemicals such as enzymes are used as an alternative of stone wash to produce the sustainable denim.
  6. Laser treatment: In laser treatment laser is a source of energy computer-controlled laser becomes are used to create localized wear, whiskers, intricate patterns and personalized designs.
  7. Ozone bleaching: Ozone gas gives a range of specialty bleached effects which reduce the environment impact and it has strong oxidizing nature which can deteriorates indigo dyes on fabrics surface. Dry ozone processes are removing the need for bleach and water, create sustainable denim.

Why sustainable denim is necessary in an eco-conscious world?

Consumers demand is sustainability and environment-friendly solutions.  According to consumer demands, denim sectors are working to change its sustainability and many company have succeeded to produce sustainable denim. Denim manufacturing processes have a negative impact on the environment and the workers health. Massive amount of water and various types dyes are needed to manufacture denim that is very harmful for environment. Fortunately, many denim companies today are trying to reduce these environmental consequences with their sustainable approach. They have understood the importance of sustainability in denim to build sustainable business. Sustainable denim is the demand of consumers as the number of environment conscious people has increased. Now many companies are applied various technologies to produce sustainable denim without any environment pollution. In an eco-conscious world the demand of sustainable denim is increased. So it is very necessary to produce denim without any environmental impacts.

Growth of Eco-denim

Denim is developing its collection for men and women made with environmentally conscious materials and manufacturing process. Denim is the most valuable product. In 2019, the market value of denim fabric was 90 billion U.S. dollars which is about to increase to 105 billion U.S. dollars by 2023. The growth of eco-denim is increased. The charts show the growth of men’s and women’s denim with more environment-friendly features.

Sustainable Denim Brands

The top international brands that are making sustainable denim:

  1. Levi’s: Levi’s is the famous international brand which started “waterLess innovations” in 2011. They are recycled over 50 million water in denim manufacturing and saving 96% water during the finishing process.
  2. Tommy Hilfiger: In 2019, Tommy Hilfiger has produced the 100% recycled cotton from waste remnants cut components.  The Denim Lab is designed as a sustainable finishing techniques including ozone technology which reduce water and chemical wastes.
  3. Uniqlo: Uniqlo stated “The Jeans Innovation Center” in 2016. Uniqlo uses ozone washing technology which washes the denim without water. They are producing over 18 million pair of jeans by traditional methods.
  4. WRANGLER: WRANGLER used the first denim apparel dyed with foam-indigood where 100% less water are uses. This process also reduces energy use and waste.
  5. FLYING MACHINE: FLYING MACHINE is Indian’s first homegrown denim brands. Its follows dry techniques in denim manufacturing which requires no water and significant chemical.


The denim fabrics are the most popular in the clothing area. But the process of denim production is not good for environment that’s why denim production is being given importance in an environmentally friendly way.  Development of denim produce by various technologies is proving to a very successful diversification in the denim word. The demand of sustainable denim is growing.  If the demand of sustainable denim continuous to grow in this way, no doubt it has a great future ahead as well.