Why Nudie Jeans Is One Sustainable Denim Company

Empowerment challengeThere is much to like about Nudie Jeans. The Swedish company, founded in 2001, uses organic, fair trade cotton in its products*. The company also partners with Amnesty International (AI). In April 2012, Nudie jeans launched a contest with AI that challenged entrants to create a t-shirt print illustrating the word “empowerment.” A panel from AI and Nudie jeans picked the eight winners on two criteria: artistic and technical perspective, and how well the design captured the concept of empowerment. Nudie Jeans started selling the eight winning t-shirt designs on December 1. Retailing for $51, Nudie Jeans will donate $13 for every t-shirt sold to AI.

Nudie Jeans first teamed up with AI in 2007, when the company launched a project asking performers, photographs and artists to illustrate one of the articles from the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. Thirty  illustrations were chosen and printed on t-shirts. For every t-shirt sold, $14 was donated to AI, and a total of $460,830 was raised for the human rights organization.

“We have a long standing relationship with Amnesty since the start of our company in 2001, and we are very proud to be one of their selected partners,” said Maria Erixon Levin, founder of Nudie Jeans. Levin added, “The empowerment project is an extension of our earlier fight for human rights project and is a topic that we feel needs to be highlighted.”

“This is an exciting and important project. The idea to let young people portray what ‘empowerment’ means to them is especially rewarding,” said Lise Bergh, director of AI in Sweden.

How Nudie Jeans helps the environment

Nudie Jeans has an environmental policy that “strives” to use only 100 organic cotton “or other sustainable fibers.” Other requirements of the environmental policy include:

  • Complying with environmental laws and regulations
  • Using only fair and ecologically produced food and other purchases
  • Working with suppliers who have an environmental profile
  • All employees must go through environmental training

Nudie Jeans believes in reusing and recycling. The company gives customers a discount if they bring in an old pair of jeans, but only in their concept stores. Then, Nudie Jeans remakes and repairs the jeans “in a personal way,” according to the company’s website, and turns around and sells them. For its efforts recycling old jeans, Nudie Jeans achieved the Swedish eco-label “Bra Miljöval” or “Good Environmental Choice” for its secondhand jeans. The Good Environmental Choice is the eco-label of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, which started eco-labeling in 1988 on laundry detergent and paper.

Image credit: Nudie Jeans

*CORRECTION: Fairtrade organic cotton is used only in Nudie Jeans’ Backbone products.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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