Meet the brand who want you to lease their jeans

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Do you want to join the clean denim revolution? Jeans are one of those items that shouldn't be a fast fashion item. Jeans were designed originally to last a lifetime. It's something MUD Jeans feel passionate about so they've even come up with a rental model to help you - and the planet - out.

Georgina Wilson-Powell 26 November 2018

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Say hi to MUD Jeans – one of the most sustainable denim brands out there. 

They’re a BCorp (click here to find out more about what this means), they operate on a Cradle to Cradle philosophy and they’re all for a renting your wardrobe economy.

Don’t know what any of this means? Don’t worry, we’re going to help you unpack it.

Mud Jeans2

MUD Jeans use recycled cotton fibres in their denim and soon 100% of its range won't use any chemicals

“Sustainability is definitely spreading across the fashion industry, but as with all bigger changes, it takes its time. 

The sustainable consumers often tend to live in a bubble, where they don’t realise how many people there are out there, not knowing anything about the impacts of fast fashion and sustainability. The sustainable warrior’s goal should now be to burst that bubble and carry the message to as many people as possible in order to really change the fashion industry.”

That’s Bert Van Son, he’s the founder and Visionair at MUD Jeans, a Dutch company who believe that jeans should be long lasting friends and not wreck the planet.

Traditional jeans use up 1,800 gallons of water (to grow the cotton it takes to make each pair), they use toxic chemicals to achieve that distressed or stonewashed look and have polluted nearly all of our major rivers in doing so over the last 30-40 years. 

(Click here to check out denim documentary, River Blue).

Fast fashion – and nearly all mainstream fashion – works on a linear model. 

That means a pair of jeans is made, sold, worn and discarded to landfill, where they often don’t break down but end up polluting the environment. The end. 

Sustainable fashion brands are adopting a circular model (what we call the circular economy), where what happens to the piece of clothing at the end of its life with you, influences how it’s made in the first place.

“It’s an extra responsibility to think about what happens to your products once they are no longer used. Unfortunately, the fashion industry is notorious for looking away as long as the responsibility is not put on their shoulders by the consumer and even the government. Until then only very few brands will take full responsibility for their products,” says Van Son.

MUD Jeans are one of those brands. They work on this circular model – or Cradle to Cradle – and do things differently. 

To get round having to use as much virgin cotton (which is incredibly water intensive), each pair of jeans uses 23-40% recycled cotton fibres. The company uses as few chemicals as possible – 75% of its collection uses no chemicals and it’s moving to 100% for washing the denim with 95% of that water recovered and recycled using reverse osmosis. It has swapped synthetic dye for organic indigo and once each pair is sold, it will repair them for free.

“For us sustainability is the core of every decision we make; from the design of our products to our production processes. Going from a linear design for disposal to a design for continuity. We recycle our old jeans and don’t see those old jeans as waste but as valuable input for something new. This means we can generate positive impact.”

Bert Mudjeans
“It’s an extra responsibility to think about what happens to your products once they are no longer used”

But they’re not stopping there. They want their jeans to be made of 100% recycled materials and to be 100% recyclable or biodegradable in the near future. All of their packaging is plastic free across the entire supply chain and your bought jeans come in RePacks - which can be recycled up to 30 times and are made of recycled materials themselves - all you have to do is pop them in any postbox for free (and you'll get 10% off your next purchase for doing so).

“We will continue our road towards 100% recycled denim, partially in collaboration with Saxion University, as one of their students is conducting research for us regarding 100% recycled fabrics. We want to take it even further we want to close the loop on all levels, for all components of our jeans. From the stainless steel buttons and rivets, which we want to start recycling in 2020 to the implementation of cellulose based stitching yarn in 2019," explains Van Son. 

Just being able to get your jeans mended isn’t enough for MUD Jeans either. 

They’re the first denim brand to experiment with leasing jeans. Yep, for a small upfront cost (£25) and monthly fee you can choose a pair of jeans, wear them for a year and then send them back and choose a new style. They get mended for free, and MUD get their denim back to upcycle into new pairs of jeans. In the UK you get all of this for £6.60 a month.

Mud Jeans Fashion Revolution Who Made My Clothes

Do you know who makes your jeans? MUD do - they take part in Fashion Revolution Week every year

For those that find all sustainable fashion too expensive, it makes for a budget friendly option as well as a planet friendly one.

“When we first introduced it people told me I was crazy. But now people think it’s a great way of actively taking part in the circular economy,” says Van Son. 

“Millennials especially are much more open to new ways of consuming as they become more aware of their surroundings and their own impact on the planet. This group cares more about experiences than possessions so they get the Lease concept.”

When you think about how many pairs of jeans are sold all over the world, as the most popular item of clothing, it boggles the mind that all that denim – which was designed to be long lasting workwear – ends up in landfill – especially when it’s so expensive environmentally to produce.

“We believe that as a company you have to be an example of how you want the world to look like. Doing a little less bad is not good enough anymore. We have to do more,” says Van Son. “There are clever minds working on solutions on dying without water, recycling fabrics, washing without chemicals etc. Now it is really time to implement it on a larger scale. The technologies are there, it’s the demand that needs to grow in order to get the big businesses to join the clean denim revolution.”

When he says demand – he means us. We have to demand our brands do better and we need to think of denim as a purchase that will see us through years not months. Denim should be treasured, not trashed - and reused not sit in landfill. How will you buy denim in future?

Do you want to join the clean denim revolution?

Here are Bert’s tips for choosing sustainable denim:

  • Jeans should last a lifetime. If you don’t think they will last at least several years, perhaps you’re not looking at the right brands.
  • A true denim lover knows that the jeans get better and more unique over time, when the wash has faded and the jeans has developed it’s character like a good wine.
  • Certifications can be confusing so do your own research. Make sure the brand is walking the walk, look out for published audits of the factories on the websites of companies or also Google the factories they produce with. Most denim brands don’t make their own jeans – there are often several layers of factories they delegate the work to. They’re the ones you need to make sure are Fairtrade and environmentally friendly.
  • Not got enough time? Look out for certifications such as the FairWearFoundation and look at pages such as Rankabrand, who have done the research for the consumer. There’s also apps such as Good On You and sites such as Compare Ethics which rank ethical brands.

Find more ethical fashion lovers in our Facebook community


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