Did you know that blue jeans are one of the most environmentally damaging clothing items, leaving a significant ecological footprint? One of the reasons for this is that jeans are mostly made from unsustainable cotton, which is known as the "dirtiest crop in the world." Denim is the largest consumer of cotton worldwide, accounting for a whopping 35% of global cotton production. Moreover, cotton requires about 10,000-20,000 liters of water to produce just 1 kg and uses 10% of the pesticides used globally during its cultivation. Unsustainable cotton is, therefore, extremely harmful to both the environment and humans.
But it's not just the cotton itself that's the problem; the dyeing and processing of jeans make them one of the most environmentally damaging clothing items. The use of dangerous chemicals and hazardous working processes creates additional risks to both people and the environment. To incorporate the popular blue dye indigo into jeans, it must be made water-soluble with chemicals and heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, lead, and copper. Subsequently, jeans are further processed through techniques such as stone-washing, bleaching, washing, whisker effect, and grinding, which again require immense amounts of water and chemicals that end up in wastewater, nature, and oceans. In short, jeans aren't a great choice to make fashion more sustainable. Therefore, we recommend some eco-friendly and stylish alternatives to jeans.
Chinos are one of the smartest alternatives to jeans. They are the perfect hybrid between jeans and dress pants, making them the ideal choice for any casual or business-casual outfits. They come in a variety of colours and styles, from slim-fit to loose-fit. Chinos are not only comfortable and functional, but also extremely stylish and versatile. For example, pairing a navy blue chino with a light blue Oxford shirt and dress shoes creates a formal look, while the same chinos with a simple white tee and white sneakers are perfect for casual wear and a more laid-back vibe. Since chinos are also made of cotton, it's crucial though to choose sustainable materials.
Our Smart Chino by SANVT is made with 97% premium organic cotton and 3% elastane. The high-quality stretch cotton not only ensures incredible comfort, but also special shape retention. Not only that, we dye the fabric without harmful chemicals or heavy metals and have closed water circuits, allowing us to recycle 99.9% of the wastewater generated. This means you get a sustainable, fairly produced, and climate-neutral pair of pants that's among the best alternatives to jeans.
You can find more differences between jeans and chinos here.
Khakis and Cargos
If chinos are a bit too dressy for you and you're looking for a more rugged style, khakis or cargo pants are the way to go. While khakis and cargo pants were once considered a fashion faux pas, they've made a comeback in recent years. Made from a heavier cotton fabric, they have a looser, straighter cut. Khakis and cargo pants are particularly popular in muted earth tones like khaki, brown, or beige, and often come with visible pockets, side pockets, and zippers, giving them a cool vibe. This makes them extremely comfortable and functional. Plus, they're perfect for outdoor activities like hiking or barbecuing. We recommend buying your khakis and cargo pants from sustainable and fair brands to get an environmentally-friendly product.
You can find more differences between khakis and chinos here.
Let's be real: there's nothing more chill and comfy than a pair of sweatpants. And what used to be acceptable only for the gym or lounging at home, is now a trend seen on fashion icons, runways, and in street style. Don't confuse them with those 80s-style track pants, though. Modern joggers are simple in design and made from high-quality materials, making them the perfect alternative to jeans. Especially in beige or black, they look far from sloppy.
Pair them with a polo shirt and stylish sneakers for a relaxed look. It's important to choose sweatpants made from sustainable materials like organic cotton, and that's where our Perfect Sweatpants from SANVT come in. They're made from 100% organic cotton and dyed without chemicals in a closed water cycle, just like our chinos.
Learn more about the differences between sweatpants and tracksuits here.
Fabric Pants and Corduroys
If you're looking for something a bit dressier than sweatpants and want more options in their wardrobe besides chinos, sustainable fabric pants and vintage corduroys are great alternatives to jeans. Lightweight linen, bamboo, or hemp pants are perfect for spring and summer, paired with flannel shirts or simple tees. Meanwhile, vintage corduroys in muted tones pair well with cozy sweaters in the fall and winter. Roll them up with some cool socks and accessorise with hats or beanies for a Dandy or Skater look.
Alternatives to Jeans: Conclusion
Even though blue jeans have been an absolute fashion staple since James Dean rocked them in the 50s, there are many alternatives to jeans that can make our daily outfits more diverse and sustainable. And if you're a style- and environmentally conscious consumer who still wants to wear jeans, we recommend buying vintage or from sustainable brands, and taking proper care of them by not washing them too frequently to extend their lifespan.