Education, Fashion, Sustainability

What is Biodegradable Denim?

words by: Natasha Marsh
Dec 29, 2020

This year has allowed us to slow down, focus on the things that matter and hopefully, spend more time with people we love. One thing I’ve been redefining this year is my relationship with consumption. As a fashion editor, I love clothes and trends. I find joy in a new pair of jeans or new shoes but over the past three years, specifically 2020, I’ve become more aware of the pollution the fashion industry produces. Denim in particular uses 11,000 liters of water and a plethora of chemicals to dye for each pair.


Biodegradable denim could be the answer to our pollution problems.


What is Biodegradable denim?

Introduced in 2019, biodegradable denim or bio stretch selvedge denim, is a denim alternative made out of plant-based materials that is positioning itself to be the leader in sustainable denim production. Developed and produced in Italy in collaboration with Denham, English jean maker and Candiani, a Milan-based manufacture known for responsible denim production, biodegradable denim is a stretch denim with low environmental impact.


What is stretch denim?

Typical stretch denim is made by blending polyester and a small amount of elastane. Synthetic stretch garments are made with spandex or lycra, both very bad for the environment. For starters, they are made from depleting fossil fuels that emit harmful gases into the atmosphere. The material also has tons of microfibers (plastics) that are released into the ocean when washed, creating damage to wildlife and water.


The biodegradable stretch denim however, is made using Coreva Stretch technology, composed of plant-based yarns made of natural rubber and wrapped in organic cotton. The denim is then dyed in a way that reduces water consumption and chemical usage. Kitotex Vegetal, a biodegradable ingredient constructed from seaweed and mushrooms, replaces polyvinyl alcohol used in starching.


Where can I buy it?

Denham was the very first to use this new technology of denim and later partnered with Candiani to introduce it to the markets. Stella McCartney, champion of clean fashion, caught wind of it and produced two pieces for her Winter 2020 collection which was scheduled to be available in stores May 2020 – but due to COVID-19 they are unable to produce clothing so things have been placed on hold.


I think clean fashion is still finding it’s way to mainstream culture but my hope is that 100% recycled or organic materials, as well as biodegradable denim, will continue to gain momentum and create a more circular movement to minimize environmental impact.