Is Levi's Sustainable? [+ 5 More Ethical Levi’s Alternatives]

Giada Nizzoli

Is Levi's Sustainable? [+ 5 More Ethical Levi’s Alternatives]

Levi’s is pretty much THE jeans brand, isn’t it?

Its parent company, Levi Strauss & Co., was founded all the way back in 1853, and its jeans became more and more iconic throughout the years.

Is Levi’s sustainable thought? 

We believe that, if you’re looking for fairtrade jeans, there are definitely some more ethical denim brands out there (we’ve rounded up our favourites for you!).

But let’s first look at both the good and bad of this iconic company.

So, how sustainable are Levi's jeans? And is Levi’s an ethical brand? 

Ethical and sustainable pros of Levi’s jeans

Folded pair of denim jeans

Denim is actually one of the most polluting aspects of the fashion industry. 

This is due to its energy- and chemical-intensive process (especially to create that recognisable blue colour) and high water usage. We’re talking about 7,600 litres of water for a single pair of jeans!

Luckily, Levi’s is doing something about it.

Ethical and sustainable cons of Levi’s jeans

Fast fashion sweatshop

At the same time, Levi’s often hides dodgy supply chains.

  • Accidents and scandals – There have been several problems throughout the years, like its pollution scandal in South Africa. Also, in 2012, the Toxic Threads investigation by Greenpeace called out Levi’s for using toxic chemicals and dumping them into bodies of water 
  • Lack of transparency – Levi’s only scored 51-60% in the 2023 Fashion Transparency Index and 30 in the Know the Chain benchmark (lower than Primark!). So, there isn’t enough evidence that they protect workers’ rights and pay them fair wages throughout their supply chain
  • Refusal to sign the International Accord – To date, despite several protests, requests and pressure, Levi’s keeps refusing to join +170 fashion brands in signing an important international accord. This is to protect fashion workers’ health and safety in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Instead, they insist on relying on their brand-led safety programmes. Unfortunately, as proven by several accidents (like the deadly Rana Plaza collapse in 2013), these types of programmes just aren’t as transparent and effective. For example, in January 2022, 4 garment workers died after a gas leak at one of the Karachi factories used by Levi’s

So, how sustainable are Levi’s jeans?

Overall, we’d say that, from an environmental point of view, Levi’s jeans are fairly sustainable: they’re made to last and often involve organic or recycled cotton.

However, based on what we’ve seen and what other brands have concluded, we believe that the main problem with Levi’s is that they’re not doing enough to protect their garment workers and ensure they’re paid fair wages.

So, they’re not as ethical as you might have thought. 

5 more ethical and sustainable Levi’s alternatives

Would you rather rock denim jeans that are both eco-friendly and made by workers who are paid fair wages? Then, here are some more ethical jeans brands and Levi’s alternatives. TIP: You can easily browse through all sustainable jeans for women, men or kids from ethical brands in our shopping section.

1. MUD Jeans 

A sustainable Levis alternative by MUD Jeans

This is one of the most resourceful and sustainable Levi’s alternatives!

MUD Jeans rely on GOTS certified organic cotton and recycled cotton. They also use a closed water loop to save an average of 6,419 litres of water per pair of jeans!

On top of that, they use a supplier that pays living wages and has a union (mostly women-led) to protect their workers.

You’ll find a wide range of timeless denim garments, from jeans to skirts and jumpsuits.

2. Un Denim

Ethical Levis alternative by Undenim

This Levi’s alternative is all about unwasting the fashion industry and breaking the elitism around sustainable clothing.

For example, they collect discarded denim and turn it into new, high-quality pieces, prolonging their lifespan while reducing waste.

And thanks to their circular approach? They only need 23 litres of water for each pair of jeans!

They also rely on a refurbishment facility where workers are paid above the minimum wage.

You’ll find a good range of timeless and iconic pieces.

3. Kings of Indigo

Ethical jeans by Kings of Indigo

Entirely vegan, this Levi’s alternative is a classic jeans brand focusing on both environmental and social responsibility (without compromising on style).

They use eco-friendly fabrics like recycled and organic cotton, hemp, and linen. They also rely on green energy for 40-50% of their production.

To protect their garment workers, they’re part of the Fair Wear Foundation and incredibly transparent about their entire supply chain

You can choose from a range of denim pieces and other garments with a streetwear flair.

4. Kuyichi

Ethical denim garment by Kuyichi

This Levi’s alternative only uses organic cotton and is always looking for new ways of making their production more sustainable (like including recycled materials whenever possible).

They choose their suppliers carefully from seed to garment, and they only rely on factories that are audited and certified by third parties. 

As well as traditional denim jeans, they offer a few different types of garments and colourful designs, too.

5. Infinitdenim

Upcycled Levis alternative by Infinitdenim
As well as being one of the most ethical Levi’s alternatives, this is also a fantastic made-to-order clothing brand: they only produce each item once you’ve ordered it, reducing overproduction and waste.

Infinitdenim strives for a circular approach, creating recyclable products and choosing post-consumer denim (especially by Levi’s!) whenever possible.

Their small but charming range of fairtrade garments is made in a women-run workshop in Spain.

Find more ethical Levi’s alternatives and sustainable jeans

At Project Cece, we brought hundreds of fair trade brands in one place.

Of course, that includes lots of jeans and denim garments!

So, use our filters to narrow down your choices and find the best Levi’s alternatives for your style and ethos.

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Project Cece is a platform that collects ethical fashion from vetted brands and shops in one place. Browse ethical fashion for women and men and find items that fit your style, budget and values!

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