The Dark Side of Denim

Have you ever wondered what goes into making a pair of jeans - how the denim is dyed or how you get that faded, slightly worn look?

This fashion staple is timeless, but what you might not know is there is a dark side to denim, one that is harmful to both the garment workers and the environment.

“Currently, 5 billion pairs of jeans are produced every year. To produce these, about 420 million m3 of water and 900,000 tons of chemicals are used and over 2 million people are exposed to techniques that are detrimental to their health,” - Carmen Silla, Director of Marketing and Communication at Jeanologia

 

The Dark Side of Denim

Here are just some of the process’s denim undergoes to transform it into a pair of jeans:

 

TEXTILE DYING

The manufacturing of conventional denim often includes several chemical-intensive washes. These washes may contain heavy metals such as manganese, cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead and copper, which can all be poisonous to the nervous system and carcinogenic. The contaminated water leftover from this process is then often dumped into surrounding rivers and streams, polluting local drinking water supplies. Over the long term, this impacts the health of the people who live in the local area.

At KEEPER Denim we chose to source our denim from ISKO, a denim Mill in Turkey as it has been awarded with both the EU Ecolabel and the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. This means the denim has been tested to make sure it doesn’t contain chemicals that are harmful to either our health or the planet.

ISKO also have a filtration system that cleans the water used during the manufacturing process of their denim, so it can be recycled and re-used, Reducing their water usage and pollution!

 

DENIM FADING

Sandblasting is one of the most common methods used to fade the colour of denim today. A high-pressure hose filled with sand is used to literally blast it onto the denim, which fades and softens the denim at the same time. Although this may make jeans look amazing, it can be harmful to the health of the factory workers. They breathe in small particles from the sand which can become trapped in their lungs, causing illnesses such as lung fibrosis and emphysema. Many factory workers in the developing world are aware of the impact this process can have on their health, however they are forced to continue to work, earning as low as $70 a month just so they can support their family.

 

So, is there a better way?

Yes! There are more ethical and sustainable ways to create this worn look, such as the use of lasers or manual techniques.

At KEEPER Denim we have chosen to use a more ethical and sustainable alternative. Once our jeans have been sewn together, our denim artisans use a brush to lightly fade the fabric. This minimises our impact on the environment and creates safer working conditions for our garment workers by reducing their exposure to chemicals during the manufacturing process.

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