J. Crew & Madewell Partner With Fair Trade To Produce Sustainable Denim

Photo: Courtesy of Fair Trade/Saitex.
Sustainability has become a focal point for brands, mainstream and emerging, as of late. Innovators in the space, like H&M and Everlane, have caused a ripple effect across all levels of the industry — including the stagnant luxury sector — which sees more labels following suit and cleaning up their supply chains.
And, starting today, J.Crew and Madewell are adding their names to that list of brands. The retailers are launching their first round of products — a sustainable renovation to their hot-selling denim items — in partnership with Fair Trade Certified™, a nonprofit organization that holds companies to rigorous ethical standards, like promoting a sustainable livelihood and safe working conditions for their employees, protection of the environment, and transparent supply chains.
For their first collections, J.Crew is launching 18 styles of eco-denim, along with 16 styles at Madewell, across their men's and women's lines. According to a press release, they'll be funneled into their already-established eco-friendly collections, which include tops, bottoms, and accessories, made in partnership with Saitex factory and Candianai mill — facilities that implement 'zero-discharge' models and use 65% less chemicals and 75% less water than conventional fabrics. Additionally, the press release notes, the Saitex factory is attributed with reducing their energy consumptions by 13M kilowatts of power per year (the equivalent of 2,000 cars off the road). It's what fellow conscious brand Everlane calls "the world's cleanest denim factory".
For now, however, Good On You, an app that rates brands on their environmental footprint and transparency of their supply chains (and suggest more ethical alternatives), rates J. Crew as Not Good Enough in terms of sustainability. "Even though J.Crew’’s website has extensive descriptions about steps to improve its impact on the environment, they mostly concern energy efficiency and don’t communicate sufficient information about the brand’s policies," Good On You reported back in August. Regardless, this news is, indeed, a step in the right direction.
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