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For Nudie Jeans, Repair and Resale Is the Next Major Sustainable Step Forward

Sustainability may be part of Nudie Jeans’ DNA, but the brand is not without its own set of challenges. And those challenges are evolving as the denim supply chain becomes greener.

At Denim Première Vision in London, Sandya Lang, Nudie Jeans sustainability manager, shared how the brand is taking a multi-prong approach to creating a sustainable business through products, repair services and resale, and the hurdles that lie ahead for the company.

The idea of sustainability has been part of the Swedish brand since it launched in 2001, but Lang said momentum didn’t pick up until around 2010 when the mindset of the global denim supply chain began to shift and take responsible design seriously.

The first Nudie jean made with organic cotton was produced in 2004. During this pioneering time, it was difficult, Lang said, to scale the fabric for a full collection.

“That was one of the struggles in the early days, convincing fabric suppliers to produce organic because we were at quite a small volume at the time,” she said.

Nowadays, with the industry on board and investing in sustainable materials and production processes, Nudie Jeans is turning its attention to how it can integrate sustainable practices on the retail side.

The next hurdle for Nudie to overcome, Lang said, is to scale its repair service—a concept that began more as a customer service perk by some of the brand’s in-store staff. “They were already repairing jeans for special customers, and then we thought maybe we should make it a more integrated part of our business,” she said.

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Through repairs, Nudie is prolonging the life of garments and saving textile waste from being thrown away. The brand repaired 55,000 pairs of jeans in its own stores in 2018, but Lang believes it can do more. The company currently has 32 repair shops around the world. However, to grow this side of Nudie’s business, Lang said the business will have to invest in additional training and find employees interested in the repairing process.

She’d also like to increase the synergies between its repair and resale segments. Nudie’s re-use denim program takes back unwanted pairs of the brand’s jeans, which are washed, repaired and resold through its own retail channels.

Re-use jeans, she said, are the most sustainable product Nudie offers. And consumers are responding positively. Since 2018, Nudie has released several drops of approximately 200 pairs of re-use jeans that have sold out within 48 hours, Lang said.

“Ideally, we would like to be able to offer repairs and reuse to every brand, but logistically it’s difficult,” she said. “It’s not possible today to send in your old blue jeans. That is something that we are discussing and seeing if we can make happen in the future.”