Sustainable denim brands Mud Jeans and Nudie Jeans are sustainable “rockstars,” according to a new report.
Remake, a nonprofit organization with the goal to make fashion a force of good, is applauding a number of denim brands making strides in sustainability, and coming for those that aren’t. The organization released last week its first-ever brand transparency report ranking 40 brands against a series of guidelines developed in partnership with human rights, climate, water and waste experts.
Using the monikers “rockstars,” “wannabes,” “offenders” and “up and comers” to rank brands, Remake used brands’ sustainability reports and other public-facing document to score companies on topics like traceability and transparency, maker well-being, environmental sustainability, sustainable raw materials, and leadership, diversity and inclusion. To earn the title “rockstars,” brands must earn at least a score of 50 out of 100.
Sweden-based Nudie Jeans, a brand known for its use of organic cotton and blossoming resale efforts, was commended for initiatives such as its repair shops and water recycling programs. In July, Nudie published its 2019 sustainability report in which it committed to new targets that would reduce its chemical intake, scale up its circular business and increase transparency in its supply chain. Just several months later, it co-led a program to target and end modern slavery and unsafe working conditions in fashion’s supply chain.
Remake lauded Mud Jeans for its use of recycled denim and a detailed Code of Conduct, which outlines the social and environmental responsibilities of Mud and its suppliers. Last month, Mud Jeans signed the Denim Deal, a three-year initiative by public and private organizations to help make the global denim supply chain more sustainable. It has also committed to producing a denim fabric that is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled cotton.
While both brands earned high scores—Nudie a 57 and Mud a 74—Remake noted that they still have a long way to go in terms of their diversity and inclusion efforts.
Earning spots on the “wannabes” list, which Remake describes as the brands it feels practice “controversial manipulation tactics often seen in greenwashing,” are Madewell, Asos and Reformation.
Reformation landed on the “wannabes” list because of its decision to expand its supply chain into China, which Remake says signals trouble. The brand was awarded a score of 53.
“While the brand does pass our criteria, we worry about their commitment to best practices as they’ve recently been adding factories in China,” Remake stated in the report. “We do commend the brand for being clear about what they do and do not know about their supply chain; however, as Reformation continues to expand their supply chain, it’s imperative that it be managed just as sustainably as its founding ethos.”
J. Crew Group Inc.-owned denim label Madewell, which earned an overall score of 29, fell under scrutiny for its failure to scale its sustainable practices beyond its Eco-Denim collection, which uses organic cotton, sustainable dyeing techniques and energy-saving production methods. Alternatively, the collection on its own earned a high score of 62 points.
The report’s “offenders” include fast-fashion brands such as Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, Forever21 and Urban Outfitters. It also includes Everlane on the list, noting that the brand “has few goals beyond plastic reduction.” While the brand is often viewed as ethical, it was recently slammed for its “convenient transparency” and the negative attention it received from then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for alleged union busting.
And though it may be valued at $2.1 billion, the coveted streetwear label Supreme earned a score of zero, bottoming out on Remake’s offenders list due to its lack of transparency. Its recent acquisition by VF Corporation, the owner of sustainable leaders like The North Face and Timberland, may be the start of a more transparent future, however.
“Time for Supreme to step up and address its carbon and human rights impact,” Remake stated. “Until then, they are cancelled in our book.”