Known for its jeans-for-hire system, the ethical and sustainable fashion brand MUD Jeans has taken up the challenge of making one of the world's best-selling garments as circular as possible.
In 2013, the Dutch brand MUD Jeans launched a pioneering concept: "Lease A Jeans". Seeing collaborative consumer companies offering car-sharing or washing machine rental services, its founder, Bert van Son, realized that the best way to ensure that his customers return their jeans for proper recycling is by not selling them in the first place!
For a membership fee of €20 when you join the scheme and a monthly subscription of €7.50, you can rent up to three pairs of jeans. But what if you tear them? No problem - a free repair service is included. And after 12 months’ use, your old jeans can be traded in for a new pair.
Depending on their condition, they will be sold either as second-hand or will be recycled. Denim is reused to produce new garments, such as this sweater containing 84% post-consumer recycled denim. Jeans and denim jackets, on the other hand, contain up to 40% recycled denim. Customers can also choose to keep their jeans and become sole owner - something the company doesn’t encourage.
The "Lease A Jeans" concept has received a lot of media attention and is now a textbook case taught at the many universities that provide training in circular economics. And with good reason! By prioritizing use over ownership, MUD Jeans has introduced one of the key founding principles of the circular economy into the fashion industry. And in doing so, the brand claims to have saved 12,000 pairs of jeans from landfill and incineration over the past three years.
But that's not all: eco-design and the goal of reducing CO2 emissions underpins the entire production process. To manufacture a pair of jeans, the company uses 1,500 liters of water - compared with an average of 7,000 liters for a conventional pair of jeans.
By using recycled materials and renewable energy in its factories, as well as by offsetting its carbon emissions, it is now carbon neutral. It has also eliminated all toxic chemicals. As a result of its efforts, MUD Jeans has saved 300 million liters of water and 700,000 kilograms of CO2 in the space of just three years.
CREDITS: Main picture © Getty Images