The Life Cycle of Denim

There is a story behind every item you have in your closet.

Today, I introduce the story of denim so you can understand the complexity behind its creation. The beginning of our story lies in harvesting cotton fibers, which are then cleaned and spun into strong threads. The threads are dipped several times into indigo and woven together to create denim fabric. 

We now know more about the damaging effect denim has on our planet. Producing one pair of jeans uses 3,781 gallons of water and disperses 33,400 grams of CO2 throughout its lifetime. These numbers are only from one pair of jeans—consider what the numbers are from the amount of denim you purchase throughout your life! Minimizing these impacts requires consumers to think about how they care for their denim.

As a consumer, you can carefully approach this situation by reusing, recycling, and reducing. When denim becomes damaged, take the opportunity to learn how to repair it. Darning stitches require only a needle and thread. Another option would be to apply an iron-on patch, the simplest way to revamp your denim. You can also purchase denim from brands that have reduced their impact on the environment. 

Here is a list of brands I recommend: 

1. Honest Basics uses their longstanding experience in the fashion industry and deep knowledge of sustainability to produce ethically and sustainably.

2. Gustin uses crowdsourcing to line up supply and demand for every product they make. This creates a zero-waste cycle, and they return the savings to you.

3. Kings of Indigo’s collections are rich with natural fibers, such as organic cotton, linen, and hemp. But with every season, they explore innovations to shift their focus to recycled and manufactured fibers. 

4. Monkee Genes wanted to prove you can look fashionable and support sustainability. In 2020, the brand grew into an ethical fashion destination with all of its garments made to meet the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified factories. 

—Thy X. Phan (Your Daily Cup of Thy)