April 24 will mark the tenth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. That day, 1,138 garment workers who had been sewing for fast fashion brands died due to a lack of safety precautions. As a response to the Rana Plaza collapse, global unions put into effect the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord, a binding contract for textile brands to ensure workplace safety. The Bangladesh Accord expired in May 2018, resulting in the launch of the International Accord in May 2021. Since then, because of the country’s influential role in the textile industry, the Accord has been expanded into Pakistan.

As of April 2023, over 40 brands and retailers have signed the [Pakistan Accord] ensuring safe working conditions, promoting worker empowerment and protection.

As of April 2023, over 40 brands and retailers have signed the binding agreement on ensuring safe working conditions, promoting worker empowerment and protection, and supporting collective bargaining agreements. To grasp the scope, it is noteworthy that Pakistan’s garment sector employs 4.4 million workers which account for 40% of the country’s industrial workforce. That makes the textile and garment industry the primary engine for economic growth in the country.

Two of the world’s biggest denim brands producing in Pakistan have yet to sign the Pakistan Accord: Levi Strauss & Co and Wrangler. Global support for the Pakistan Accord has been growing among competing retailers, yet these two denim brands ignore accusations and neglect the possibility of being a leader in the worker safety space.

Levi’s refusal to sign the Accord is significant because of the company’s reputation for being socially responsible and its status as one of the biggest buyers in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Levi’s tries to mitigate allegations by referring to its own safety programs. However, it is worth bearing in mind that these programs are neither legally binding nor worker-driven. Levi’s Sustainability Report even acknowledges that health and safety violations are common in their factories.

Pakistan’s garment sector employs 4.4 million workers which account for 40% of the country’s industrial workforce

International denim brands like Levi’s can only stay relevant in the long haul if they show concern for environmental and ethical issues. Big corporations today are swimming against a strong undercurrent of activism and have to compete with emerging brands that embed social and environmental justice in the core of their business models. By disregarding workers’ rights, companies like Levi’s ultimately run the risk of being exchanged for alternatives.

True sustainability in fashion cannot exist if the people that make our clothing are not able to do so with dignity, and it is the large fashion corporations with substantial buying power and supply chain influence, like Levi’s and Wrangler, that need to come together to set higher industry-wide standards for social, as well as environmental, sustainability. Unfortunately, companies are not doing this of their own volition, and thus, voluntary action on the part of brands must be replaced by binding agreements. Organizations like Ekō are at the frontline, partnering with organizations like Remake to demand brands like Levi’s, IKEA and Amazon protect workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan, calling for them to #SigntheAccord. In April 2023, Ekō released a petition that has gained over 47,487 signatures so far, from consumers demanding changes.

(You can sign the petition to help protect garment workers!)


Luckily, there are brands already committed to ethics and the environment. To kick off Earth Month, we’re highlighting some of the denim brands that are alternatives to companies like Levi’s and Wrangler. Here are six denim brands demonstrating a clear focus on, and progress towards, one or more areas of social or environmental sustainability.


Boyish Jeans

Boyish Jeans is a sustainable denim label for women that focuses on vintage silhouettes. The brand claims to use about one-third of the amount of water typically used to produce one pair of jeans. By using non-toxic plant-based dyes, it contributes to keeping water clean and creating a safe environment for their workers. Its jeans consist of certified organic cotton, recycled and deadstock fabrics, and innovative fibers such as Tencel. During its entire production process, circularity is prioritized: Boyish recycles, cutting waste, paper, metal, labels, and shipping tags.


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Next steps for Boyish Jeans: Boyish notes that all of its garment workers earn at least above the minimum wage, and that it is striving to guarantee that all workers earn at least a living wage. As a next step, the brand could provide more specific details about how it is benchmarking living wage rates in all of its production countries, as well as about the progress it has made towards its living wage goals.



ÉTICA Denim is a sustainable denim brand founded in 2010 in Los Angeles. Since its inception, the brand has been dedicated to creating eco-friendly denim products, utilizing organic cotton and recycled materials in its production process. Due to technology, the brand claims to be working towards reducing water it’s usage by 90%, energy consumption by 63%, and chemical usage by 70% compared to industry standards. Etica’s factories and mills are audited by two of the most well-known third-party watchdogs Sedex and Bluesign. Its supply chain as well as the materials they use notably hold a myriad of third-party certifications to ensure maximum accountability.


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Next steps for ÉTICA Denim: Social and environmental sustainability is truly embedded in Etica’s business model. Looking into the future, the brand could work on improving the percentage of organic cotton they use from 70% to 100% to further mitigate the environmental impact of cotton farming.


MUD Jeans

As a circular denim brand, MUD Jeans ensures their denim stays in the loop. By recycling old jeans from their customers, 40% of MUD jeans are now already made from recycled cotton, with the remaining 60% made from certified organic cotton. Circularity is truly embedded in every step of a MUD jeans lifecycle from circular design to the ability to repair, upcycle, and even lease jeans: Customers have the possibility of leasing jeans for $10 per month. The brand also reduces its environmental impact through water recycling plants and the use of renewable energy.


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A post shared by Frontrunners In Circular Denim (@mudjeans)

Next steps for MUD Jeans: MUD Jeans has set the incredibly admirable and crucial goal of ensuring every worker in its supply chain is paid above the minimum wage and is completing a wage analysis through facility audits. As these analyses come to completion, MUD Jeans should provide updates on this work, backed by transparent wage data, and share its living wage benchmark methodology.

Nudie Jeans

Since 2001, the Swedish denim brand Nudie Jeans is on a path to spread, “the naked truth about denim” as its brand claims suggest. 100% of their jeans are produced with certified organic cotton that minimizes the use of pesticides and water. However, what truly stands out is the brand’s commitment to circularity as every pair of Nudie jeans comes with the promise of free repairs. Customers can either have a free repair kit sent to them, or bring their jeans to one of their repair shops to have them mended, resold as second-hand, or donated. Nudie Jeans also conduct regular audits with garment workers and hold several third-party certifications for their supply chain which is monitored to 98%.


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A post shared by Nudie Jeans co (@nudiejeans) 


Next steps for Nudie Jeans: Nudie Jeans is working to secure fair wages for its supply chain workers, having already implemented a fair wage program at three of its Indian suppliers and one Turkish supplier —  all of which the company confirms currently receive living wages. In addition to publishing its goals toward securing living wages for all Tier 1 factory workers, the company needs to provide detailed year-on-year data to demonstrate progress towards, and continued expansion of, the program.


One Teaspoon

The Sydney-founded label One Teaspoon offers a wide range of womenswear and apparel for children. While it doesn’t market itself as fully sustainable, the brand is committed to reducing their environmental impact. It does so by working with recycled cotton, organic cotton, and Tencel, a semi-synthetic fiber used to make textiles for clothing. One Teaspoon also works with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) which intends to improve farmers’ livelihoods and safely trace cotton.


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Next steps for One Teaspoon: Currently, One Teaspoon’s sustainability efforts seem to be primarily focused on materials, with little mention of social endeavors related to worker and supply chain community well-being. With no available insights into the labor conditions in its garment factories, the company needs to publish its supplier list, implement and disclose information about the labor conditions of the garment workers in its supply chains.



Adored by celebrities and a celebrated pioneer in upcycling, RE/DONE is probably one of the most popular sustainable denim brands. It is known for its sustainable approach to fashion and for reworking vintage Levi’s jeans into modern, trendy styles. By using high-quality, authentic denim from the 1950s to the 1990s, the brand was able to save more than 200,000 garments from landfill and design each pair of jeans in a unique way. Now, Re/Done collaborates with different brands and also produce their own collections, partly from recycled or organic materials. RE/DONE pledges to reduce water and CO2 and has a zero-waste policy while also producing its clothing in the USA.


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A post shared by RE/DONE (@shopredone) 


Next steps for RE/DONE: RE/DONE states that it only works with factories providing “quality working conditions and livable wages to all employees.” As a next step, the company needs to buttress this declaration by publicly disclosing what it defines as a “liveable wage”, as well as the actual wages paid to garment workers in the countries where it produces. Disclosure of this information is necessary to prove workers are in fact being paid enough to meet their basic needs and provide some discretionary income.



Check out Remake’s Brand Directory to learn about other sustainable brands we’re switching to!

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