Can You Shop Jeans Sustainably?
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Can You Shop Jeans Sustainably?

If you skip the trends you can

Guilt-free jeans are possible – just use your imagination, says Tiffanie Darke. She investigates whether you can shop jeans and still be sustainable, despite the trends.

The Stylist: The Denim Dilemma

The wrong denim can date you. A friend following the Rule of Five (whereby you only purchase five new items of clothing a year) was bullied into buying a new pair of jeans when her teenage daughter declared her denim ‘waaaay out of date’. In 2024 they are baggy, wide-legged, voluminous. Showing your thigh gap is very pre pandemic.

Trends are hard to deal with if you are trying to curate a sustainable wardrobe. Impermanent by their very nature, it’s best to duck out of trends entirely. Countrycore, Mobwife, Uniqlo’s cross body pouch: give them all a skip, they’ll be dead by the time you read this.

Woman in double denim

E.L.V. Denim only uses upcycled denim

But jeans? They really show your fashion credibility. If you’re still wearing skinnies, it’s time to move on. But you don’t have to buy a new pair – the best denim brands are using their imagination to issue an update. Patched up denim is very acceptable, and thanks to the ‘double’ and ‘triple denim’ styling trends of the last few years, layering up shades earns you cool points. E.L.V. Denim founder Anna Foster takes it one step further, splicing two vintage styles together to create one contemporary look. As an ex-stylist for i-D, she has a laser fashion eye; the styles she issues guarantee front row status. What’s more, you don’t even have to buy new. Send her a couple of pairs of your own, and she will turn them into something even a teenager would wear.

Alternatively, try Fanfare the Label. Taking a similar model of upcycling unwanted fabrics and applying contemporary design, Fanfare offers imaginative ways to customise a tired pair. It recently embroidered white cord piping over a pair of my mom jeans, which I think look even better than last year’s hit Loewe pair. A partnership with Liberty saw Fanfare offering its signature fabric patches (I got them to cover two of my belt loops), but it also offers so many creative solutions using silk and sequin embroidery, laser and screen printing and more.

Founder Esther Knight, who cut her sustainable fashion teeth at Vivienne Westwood, says ‘I want to encourage customers to keep hold of their clothing for as long as possible. Denim is one of the most unsustainable products in terms of the way it is produced. Upcycling your jeans not only keeps them relevant, it helps tell your own story. That means you’re likely to cherish that garment for longer.’ So: don’t let your jeans date you. Just use your imagination.

Featured image: Fanfare