British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) unveiled a 5-piece circular denim collection designed in line with the Ellen MacArthur Jeans Redesign guidelines.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign initiative was developed in 2019 to provide minimum requirements for increasing the quality and recyclability of new denim. Since then, it has been implemented throughout the denim industry and garnered participation from mills such as Isko and Calik Denim, and brands like Re/Done, Tommy Hilfiger and American Eagle. Fast fashion has also joined the mix, with support from Primark, Asos and H&M.
All fabrics used in the M&S collection are non-stretch and are made with organic cotton and a minimum of 25 percent recycled cotton. As part of the guidelines, the jeans are also free of metal rivets which can hinder the recycling process, and jeans were tested to ensure they maintain their quality after a minimum of 30 home washes.
The line includes women’s mom and boyfriend jeans, a tapered jean for men, a mom jean for girls and a standard fit for boys. The collection is now available exclusively on the M&S website, with prices from 18 pounds to 39.50 pounds ($23-$52).
“As an own brand retailer, we’re uniquely positioned to work with our long-standing suppliers and partners on new and better ways of doing things,” said Monique Leeuwenburgh, director of sourcing for M&S clothing and home. “Our Jeans Redesign capsule collection has been created with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s guidelines and offers customers the confidence that their purchase is not only stylish, [high-] quality and a great value, but also created with circularity in mind.”
M&S has the potential to make a large impact on circular denim. The retail giant accounts for 1 in 10 jeans sales in the nation.
The retailer has recently increased its focus on sustainability, and in 2021 set new standards for its denim supply chain. The standards stated that all cotton used for its clothing would be responsibly sourced, with the majority collected through the Better Cotton Initiative, which helps farmers reduce their water usage and increase their profits. The company pledged to reduce water intake during the wash process by using technologies from sustainable finishing tech firm Jeanologia. Standard indigo dyes were also swapped for cleaner alternatives that require less water and fewer chemicals to produce.
The company launched its “Look Behind the Label” campaign last year to educate consumers on the sourcing and production practices of all of its clothing, and includes a solution for recycling apparel at end of life. Its “Shwopping” program, formed in partnership with British poverty and hunger nonprofit Oxfam in 2018, allows customers to fill a “Shwop” box with pre-loved apparel in exchange for a mystery prize from M&S. Eligible items include clothing, towels, bedding, curtains, tablecloths and related products. Items are then either resold through Oxfam shops, sent to other countries for re-use, or recycled into new fabrics, helping to close the circular loop.