No more killer jeans

No more killer jeans

We all wear them and we all have an opinion about them. Our favorite pair of pants: jeans.

There has been a lot of discussion about the ecological and ethical aspects of jeans – especially about all the hazardous finishing treatments. I wanted to share a few words about the production of jeans (and how things can be done differently) because I have been intensively working on Nurmi jeans for the last year. Nurmi jeans will be launched next spring 2012 – both for men and for women. But in the meantime, few words about the production:

Harmful cotton & better alternatives

There’s a lot of cotton needed to produce one pair of jeans. Conventionally grown cotton needs a lot of synthetically produced pesticides and fertilizers which are hazardous for the surrounding environment but also for the people working in the cotton field.

Better alternative for conventionally grown cotton is organic cotton. There are no synthetic agricultural chemicals used and the use of genetically modified plats is prohibited. The cultivation of organic cotton also enhances biodiversity and makes the soil more fertile. Organic cotton is safer for both the environment and the workers.

One plant which is even more ecological than organic cotton is hemp. It is naturally ecological because it can grow without pesticides and fertilizers and it needs less water compared to cotton. Hemp is also a lot less picky when it comes to soil: it can grow in a rugged soil and even as north as Finland! One other good feature in hemp is its durability which makes it especially good material for jeans!

Photo: Antti Ahtiluoto

Nurmi jeans = hemp & organic cotton

The Nurmi jeans are made out of hemp & organic cotton blend. The organic cotton is grown in Turkey and it is certified by IMO. Hemp is grown in China without harmful pesticides or fertilizers. The hemp and organic cotton is processed into yarn and woven into fabric in China.

It would have been even better to find a fabric made closer to us (from Europe), but I couldn’t find a hemp denim fabric of such a good quality as this hemp/organic cotton farbic is, so I decided to choose the one made in China. The fabric is sourced via Hemp Traders which is a well established textile company committed to ethical business practices. They do not have an external audit in use yet, but they are in a process of having one. “We make sure there us no child labour but grandma labour is OK” said Lawrence from Hemp Traders. Here’s one picture of the production in China:

Photo: Hemp Traders

Deadly sandblasting

One of the most hazardous part of jeans production is finishing which makes the jeans look worn out. There are many ways to do this: stone wash, enzymes, sandpaper, laser… but the most lethal by far is sandblasting.

In 2010 the Clean Clothes Campaign launched a manifesto to end sandblasting. Since then many of the biggest jeans wear brands have publicly announced that they will ban this lethal finishing method. This is a good start, but another thing is how the brands can really make sure that none of the numerous subcontractors in developing countries will also obey this ban.

Finnish organization Finnwatch published today (7.12.2011) a research about sandblasted jeans sold in Finland. There were 24 Finnish clothing labels and almost 40 foreign jeans wear brands. The difficult part in this kind of a research is to really find out the truth because this report relies on the statement given by the brands themselves. It’s no surprise that none of the brands admitted there is sandblasting used in their production!

In Nurmi jeans there are no harmful finishes used. The jeans are only washed lightly to make them comfy. This light wash also prevents the jeans from shrinking in use.

Photo: Antti Ahtiluoto

Cut & sewn in Keitele

Although the material for Nurmi jeans comes from far away the rest of the production is done close by. The cutting, sewing and finishing is done by skilled workers in Keitele, Finland. In Keitele there is a company called M.A.S.I. Company Oy which has been making jeans since 1972. This is the place to produce jeans of excellent quality & great craftsmanship!

Transparent jeans

The problem with many bigger brands is that they do not know the whole production process because there are used many subcontractors in many different parts of the world. It’s not like it would be impossible to find out but in many cases is it easier to be unaware than to reveal the ugly truth.

Our core value is to be transparent. This is why it is extremely important for us to know the whole production process – and share it with you. If you wish to know even more, do not hesitate to ask!