Not Just Denim
Nudie Jeans strive to take responsibility for the full range of products.
In our comfort and power stretch denim options, we have included between 1–3% elastane, which gives the denim a soft and stretchy feel. When spinning the yarn used to weave the denim fabric, cotton fibers are spun around a very thin thread of elastane. The elastane is therefore at the core of the yarn. Until now, we have been using virgin elastane, but together with our suppliers, we are seeking options for using recycled elastane in the future. The elastane producers are known to us, but we have not yet been able to trace the specific production units used.
In 2019, we introduced the use of recycled polyester as a primary material in a few of our styles. Using more recycled fibers is part of our material strategy as we explore new ways to optimize our use of resources. Even though we have increased our use of recycled polyester – for instance, all new denim products with polyester are made with recycled polyester – we still use virgin polyester for some products. Polyester is a fossil-based synthetic fiber and it is used because its properties are desirable for some garments. For example, adding polyester to our most stretchy denim optimizes the recovery of the stretch and adding polyester to a cotton or wool yarn improves the yarn strength. But the use of polyester, recycled or not, involves a risk of microplastic release, and microplastics in the oceans can contain harmful chemicals – and end up in animals and humans. To decrease the risk of microplastic release, we sell the Guppy Friend washing bag which captures the fibers inside the bag, instead of flushing them out into the sewage systems. Most of our recycled polyester originates from India, and we are still in the process of tracing the virgin polyester that we use.
Lenzing’s TENCEL™ Lyocell is currently the most sustainable version of the man-made cellulosic fiber fabric, where lyocell and viscose are other versions of the same material. Lenzing’s TENCEL™ Lyocell production is very sustainable due to the use of a closed loop system for the solvent spinning process. The solvent is recycled and can be reused many times. Nudie Jeans is proud to be working only with TENCEL™ Lyocell as our man made cellulose based fiber and we are exploring different ways to increase the use of the material. We were placed in the leaderboard 100% club for preferred manmade cellulosics in Textile Exchange’s Preferred Material Benchmark for 2018.
Polyamide, often called by its most common brand name Nylon, is a synthetic fiber, and can like polyester shred microplastic particles when washed. Nudie Jeans used polyamide in socks, and in some knitted items, such as knitted sweatshirts and beanies. Polyamide is also included in some of the metal buttons used on our denim. We have not yet been able to trace the origins of the polyamide used in Nudie Jeans products.
Wool is a natural and durable fiber, and its longevity and natural stain-repellent properties make it a great fiber for garments. The fact that airing wool garments is often just as effective as washing also allows for sustainable use. Using recycled wool is more sustainable, as it decreases the environmental impact of the material. But recycled wool poses other challenges: it has shorter fibers, which must be taken into consideration when choosing the material blend, spinning the yarn, and knitting the fabric in order to obtain a high-quality product that meets Nudie Jeans’ standards. The recycled wool we use comes from the Prato region of Italy, and we have not yet been able to trace the orgine of the certified virgin wool.
Alpaca and Mohair
In 2019, we worked with a small amount of alpaca and mohair to create lighter and more voluminous knitted sweaters. Mohair was introduced in the Fall19 collection, but until there is a sustainability standard to follow, like the Responsible Mohair standard that is in development, we will not include mohair in our fiber portfolio, as it lacks traceability. The mohair we did use was sourced with the greatest care through the Stucken group, from farmers who follow the Mohair South Africa’s Sustainable Mohair Production Guidelines, on which much of the upcoming Responsible Mohair standard is based.
The alpaca we use is sourced from Peru. We have taken steps to increase the traceability of the fibers, and during the process, we learned that we need to expect much longer lead-times to obtain full traceability, and this is something we will continue to work within the coming year.
Silk is a natural protein fiber that is produced by the caterpillar of the silk moth. Before the caterpillar turns into a butterfly, it spins a cocoon made of long silk threads. In conventional silk production, the cocoons are harvested and boiled before the butterfly leaves and break the cocoon and the silk threads, to retain the fiber length. For Peace Silk, the cocoons are harvested and boiled after the butterfly has left the cocoon, which does not harm the butterfly. However, this process results in shorter silk threads and can sometimes create a less delicate silk fabric. We have chosen to only define certified organic silk as a sustainable fiber. The difference between Peace Silk and certified organic silk is that, in addition to harvesting the cocoons after the hatch, organic silk also includes regulations for pesticides and fertilizers. We have worked with Peace Silk from India, but we have not yet been able to work with certified organic silk.
Lenzing’s TENCEL™ Lyocell production is very sustainable due to the use of a closed loop system for the solvent spinning process.
Throughout Nudie Jeans’ history, we have chosen to work with leather because just like denim, it is a material that becomes more beautiful with time. The leather industry presents many challenges regarding chemical usage, traceability and animal welfare. We, therefore, work with one specific Leather Working Group Gold-rated supplier based in India for our leather jackets. We also believe that a leather jacket can be a sustainable choice if it is used for many years. Most of our leather accessories are made with vegetable-tanned leather. This is one way to decrease the use of chemicals in the leather industry, but until we can guarantee that the animals are from a certified organic farm, we will not define our leather products as sustainable. The goat leather used for jackets is of Indian origin and the leather used in our accessories is from Polish cows.
In 2018, we stopped using leather patches on our denim and replaced them with Jacron patches. 2019 is the first full year where all our patches or labels where made with Jacron instead of leather. Jacron is a material made of FSC-certified cellulose fibers and acrylic polymers made in Germany. Offering leather-free denim was a natural step in Nudie Jeans’ sustainability journey.
The treads for our denim come from Coats and Gütterman Threads, and our zippers come from YKK and are bought locally by our suppliers in each supplier country. The booklets in the back pocket of each pair of jeans are made in Denmark by A-tex and the paper used is FSC-certified. The woven Nudie Jeans tag and paper waist tag are made in Turkey by A-tex, and the paper box for underwear is made locally in India with pre-consumer recycled cotton from fabric and spinning waste. In 2019, we used plastic buttons made in Portugal for our shirts, but we are working on replacing them with a more sustainable option in the coming years. All of our metal buttons, rivets and snap fasteners are made under environmentally safe (EMAS) and transparent conditions by Berning & Söhne in Germany.