New York-based denim brand DL1961 has launched what it’s calling the world’s first high performance circular jeans.
Sustainable denim brand DL1961 doesn’t need any more street cred; its high-profile fans include actresses Katie Holmes, Reese Witherspoon, and Blake Lively, as well as models Gigi Hadid, Cindy Crawford, and Irina Shayk; Shayk starred in a campaign for the brand last fall. Meghan Markle is also a fan of the eco denim brand that fans say fits like a most-flattering glove.
DL1961 has just tapped model, philanthropist, and founder of eco lifestyle brand Tropic of C, Candice Swanepoel, to star in a new campaign for what its calling the world’s first high performance circular jeans.
“As a CEO and founder of her own fashion brand, Candice understands the importance of sustainable fashion. Her passion for the planet and aptitude to affect change make her the perfect partner for this collection,” Sarah Ahmed, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of DL1961, said in a statement.
According to DL1961, its newest jeans, produced in partnership with Recover, outperform conventional denim in every way.
Recover, a leading material sciences company, produces post-consumer waste cotton fibers. The new jeans weave together Recover’s cotton with other sustainable materials including Tencel and Reprive, aka recycled polyester. The jeans are produced with recycled water and solar energy during the manufacturing process. DL1961 says the jeans outperform the competition.
A sustainable denim brand from its start in 2008, the new partnership with Recover gives DL1961 access to one of the largest textile recycling plants in the world.
The brand says sustainability is not defined by one initiative, but rather a “multi-faceted, everevolving process” that spans from fiber to finished garment. It set out to change denim with its patented fabric, XFIT LYCRA. And it has been evolving the denim category ever since. The company says the average pair of jeans requires 1,500 gallons of water, but DL1961 requires just ten gallons at most.
“Since we started in 2008, the company has been rooted in innovation,” Ahmed told Forbes in 2019.
Innovation also came in a new form in 2020 when it launched Better By DL pieces featuring HeiQ technology, an antimicrobial Swiss textile technology purported to offer protection against Covid.
The company operates out of a vertically-integrated and self-powered facility, where it uses botanic fibers, organic and certified cotton, clean dyes, and energy-efficient machinery. Every pair of denim made by DL1961 is tracked by Environmental Impact Measurement software developed by Jeanologia.
DL1961 says its new denim will do away with concerns that post-consumer fibers equal compromised quality. In tests, the Recover jeans beat virgin equivalent fibers, as well as both conventional and organic cotton. The denim also beats the materials across five impact categories, including Global warming potential, Eutrophication, Water scarcity, Fossil fuel depletion, and Chemistry.
The company calculates the savings for one million pairs of its Recover jeans as equivalent to 530 Olympic-size swimming pools worth of water and the CO2 emissions equal to roughly the annual electricity use of 1,600 people.
Denim has been a sustainability target for years with brands like Reformation and Khloé Kardashian’s Good American breaking stereotypes around sustainable and organic denim materials and practices.
Levi’s, the denim leader, recently launched its most sustainable jeans yet. Sustainable denim isn’t new to Levi’s, it’s been trialing different methods and materials for years; but it says this new process has the greatest potential to scale without drastic price increases.
The denim company’s new 501s are made from liquefied old jeans. A chemical process dissolves old jeans, turning that into new fabric. It worked with the Swedish company Renewcell to create the new material.
“When you’re considering chemical recycling, you want to make sure that there aren’t any toxic chemicals that make their way into the fabrics,” Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co., told Fast Company. “But Renewcell’s factory must operate within Sweden’s very stringent environmental protection regulations. It was ultimately a very clean process, with no effluents coming out of the plant.”
Ahmed says DL1961 is changing the way denim is made “to lessen our impact on the planet for future generations.” And that’s hitting a nerve with consumers, as sustainable materials and practices are in greater demand than ever before.
Sustainable fashion is not a trend for DL1961, Ahmed says, it’s the future, “as a vertically integrated company it is as the base of how we think about product and how we communicate ourselves to the customer.”