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G-Star Raw: A sustainable pioneer among the major denim brands

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Apr 26, 2021

Jeans are an essential part of most wardrobes. However, the denim industry is one of the most polluting businesses in the textile industry. The Dutch manufacturer G-Star Raw has long been committed to the issue of sustainability and transparency in jeans production. Through groundbreaking denim innovations, the brand wants to minimise the impact of its products on the environment and contribute to a sustainable future.

Sustainable materials and a transparent supply chain

The heavy environmental impact and depletion of natural resources are a major problem in denim production. Especially the cultivation of the cotton needed for the denim fabric requires an enormous amount of water. In order to produce its own fashion in a more environmentally friendly way, G-Star Raw follows a circular approach and increasingly uses ecological materials. By 2025, 75 percent of the G-Star collection is to be made from recycled and/or organic, bio-based or compostable materials. By 2030, this should apply to the entire collection. Since cotton makes up about 80 per cent of all materials used by G-Star, the company has set itself an even higher target here. As of 2021, 99 percent of the cotton used is to be sustainably sourced.

G-Star Raw has developed a code of conduct for its suppliers, through which the label aims to ensure that all products and materials are manufactured under fair and sustainable conditions. Based on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Core Conventions, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code, the SMETA Environmental Criteria and ISO 14000, the code sets minimum standards in terms of working conditions, wages and the environment, which G-Star requires every factory to comply with. The Code of Conduct also references the G-Star Raw Materials Policy, which lists restrictions and requirements for the company to ethically source raw materials related to animal welfare and conservation. To ensure compliance and worker welfare, suppliers are monitored and audited in collaboration with independent organisations on a regular basis. "We work together with skillful suppliers that share our values of respecting people and the planet in order to make a high quality and sustainable product in a transparent manner," the G-Star website states.

In line with sustainability, transparency has also become a key issue in the fashion industry. More and more people want to know where and how their clothes were produced. Transparency in the supply chain is also of great importance to G-Star Raw: Back in 2014, the manufacturer revealed G-Star suppliers in a map of production locations in its online shop. On the so-called Manufacturing Map, consumers can transparently access information about the location of factories, number of workers, start dates of partnerships, capacity building projects and product types. The Manufacturing Map shows all direct suppliers with whom G‑Star has worked together with for over two years and is updated every six months.

Denim innovations

Not only does the cultivation of the materials have a negative impact on the environment, but also the further processing of the fabric with washings and finishes is not really environmentally friendly. G-Star therefore made a public commitment to prevent the use of hazardous chemicals in its manufacturing processes. Together with its suppliers, the denim brand is also working on developing various innovative dyeing and finishing processes that have a reduced ecological impact.

In 2018, for instance, G-Star introduced what it describes as "Most Sustainable Jeans Ever" made from Cradle to Cradle Gold Level-certified denim and developed the "world's cleanest indigo dyeing process", which uses no salts and 70 percent fewer chemicals. Last year, G-Star also made the Cradle to Cradle Gold status possible with black denim and introduced the world's most sustainable black denim fabric. This is made from pure organic cotton and is produced with a black liquid dye and pigment coating that is harmless to people and the environment.

Innovations that inspire to go further: On the occasion of Earth Day 2021, G-Star Raw recently presented the art project "Denim for Earth" together with the creative agency The Visionary Lab, in which various designers and artists were invited to design denim couture, taking their inspiration from the brand's sustainable innovations. The result was a range of fascinating creations, from denim dyed with plant residues to opulent headpieces made from recycled fabric. The denim brand wanted to show that fashion, denim and sustainability can go hand in hand.

G-Star Raw's entire sustainability and transparency efforts can be seen on the company's website.

Read more about G-Star Raw on the brandpage: fashionunited.com/companies/g-star-raw

Images: G-Star Raw