Vegan denim. Vegetarian jeans. If you're not a "veggie" yourself, these terms might sound a little insane. After all, most jeans are mostly cotton with perhaps a bit of polyester. But you know that little brown label on the waist, just above the back right pocket? Chances are, that branding patch is made out of leather.
To (most) vegans, even that tiny bit of leather matters. That little rectangle means that the manufacturer of that jean is contributing to demand for leather products, and when you buy those jeans, you are, too. Industrial farming isn't pretty, and you can be pretty certain that the cows you wear were born into suffering. Slaughter is actually the best thing that ever happens to most factory farmed animals. And if you don't want to think about where each part of your clothing comes from, then you probably should be thinking about it.
Animal cruelty is just one reason to abstain from leather whenever possible. Leather production is also incredibly taxing on the environment. In general, animal production (raising animals for food and goods) is much more resource-intensive than plant production. And more specifically, leather production involves a lot of harsh chemicals. We'll leave it to other sites to show you graphic images of factory farming and expound upon the intricacies of leather making, because the point is that you can feel like a rock star (or just a very well-dressed woman) without having to carry around a piece of dead cow on your butt.
If your basic physical and emotional needs are being met, then having a good pair of jeans is important. A truly good pair of jeans will go with everything, last for a good portion of your lifetime (even if your current waistline doesn't), and allow you to be your active self without hitching up your pants every seven minutes. Even if your muffin top is all that (shout-out to 30 Rock fans), you probably don't love exposing it every time you raise your arms, sit down, or reach for something at your feet. You get what you pay for with jeans, and I, for one, have learned the hard way that having two pairs of really nice jeans is infinitely better than having six pairs of really cheap ones.
Bearing all of this in mind, we've hand-selected four denim designers whose fit and ethics we very much approve of. All of these brands produce only vegan and ethically-made denim. Here are the highlights:
We're not going to tell you that the jeans we carry are "good" for the environment, because the production of any good requires natural resources of some type and inevitably produces some waste. When we say that our jeans are eco-friendly, we mean that they are a better alternative because the designers who produce them try to mitigate their environmental impact. Our designers also produce ethically: no sweatshop labor, fair wages, and so on. And as far as we know, none of the brands we carry were ever owned by Halliburton (another 30 Rock reference).
If you have other denim brand suggestions for us, speak up! We love to hear from you.
Keep dressing better,