Where to find organic denim ?
Looking for organic cotton or hemp denim to make jeans, overalls, jackets, but can’t find what you’re looking for? Hang in there, I’ll help you sort it out. I recently compared what’s available on the (european) market. But first, let’s take a look at denim – what is it, and what is the difference between jean, denim and jeans?
Jean: Jean is a fabric that has been manufactured since the 16th century. It’s a strong and resistant material, made of cotton yarn and wool or linen yarn. At the time, cotton was a relatively rare commodity.
Denim: Denim is the same type of fabric as jean, but with two main differences: the weft and warp thread are not the same colour. The weft thread is ecru and the warp thread indigo in most modern denim. The dye doesn’t reach the heart of the fabric. In terms of the name ‘denim’, it’s most likely it refers to the Nîmes spinning mill, which has produced serge since the 16th century.
Jeans: Jeans are denim pants.
I have some jeans from Levi’s – one recent, two vintage (which no doubt belonged to my older sisters, I found them at our parents’). One vintage pair still has a ‘Made in France’ tag.
What I was looking for in different e-shops was a nice thick denim like my jeans, without elastane – the type of fabric that’s used for Levi’s 501 jeans and requires an industrial machine to handle the thickness. For the moment, I haven’t found an organic cotton or hemp denim that matches the thickness and/or flexibility that I’m looking for, but what I have found will be perfect for a domestic machine. The list is far from complete and this article will be updated over time. Feel free to comment below if you know an organic denim retailer, so I can order samples and add it to this list.
Organic cotton and hemp denim from Siebenblau.
This denim is superb. It’s dark coloured (‘raw’ in jeans language), weighs 230g/m2, and is fully suited to a domestic machine.
Snag: the fibre comes from China and is woven in China. There’s no information on the dye, but I imagine everything’s done in China. It’s composed of 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton. The main advantage of hemp is it requires minimal water and little or no pesticides. This denim would make a perfect overshirt, overalls or a boilersuit. I plan to make it into Patsy overalls.
Organic cotton denim from 1083
This is an ‘original’ denim that is woven differently from ‘classic’ denim. In original denim, the weft threat (horizontal thread) is blue and the warp thread (vertical thread) is white, while in classic denim it’s the opposite. So, to make a garment, the straight grain of your pieces must be perpendicular with the selvage (the fabric edge), and not parallel with the selvage like on classic fabric.
Best thing: it’s made from 100% organic cotton, grown in Turkey, spun in Greece and Belgium. 1083’s Denim Original is then dyed, woven and finished in the France.
This is the one I like the least. I’m not a huge fan of the style, but that’s just my personal taste. Although it’s 294g/m² thick, this fabric is particularly flexible – much more than the Siebenblau denim. I ordered it in classic blue and in black. I think it’ll be perfect for a skirt, or a chore coat like Julien.
1038 also offers SuperDenim with a very tight weave – it weighs 381g/m². Unfortunately, this fabric has been sold out for some time, so I haven’t been able to discuss it in this article, but I have a feeling I’m going to love it!
Organic cotton denim by Mars-elle
This is my favourite at the moment. This is beautiful, thick and raw denim. It weighs 335g/m², the cotton comes from India, and the weave as well as dye are done in Portugal. It comes in other thicknesses. For the moment, the fabric is out of stock and won’t be back on the Mars-ELLE e-shop until spring 2021, so I only have one sample on hand. It would be perfect for a pair of jeans.
On the Mars-ELLE website, you can find a series of interesting articles (in French) about the history of jeans: https://www.mars-elle.com/lhistoire-du-jeans/.
Organic cotton denim by Amandine Cha
The denim fabrics offered on Amandine Cha’s e-boutique – Heavy Denim Burgundy, Heavy Denim Bleu de travail, Heavy Denim Marin – are the same quality as those by 1083. I used the heavy blue work denim for the Jean-Paul boilersuit and the Burgundy one for the James fisherman’s smock. Once again, I’m not a huge fan of the overall look, but the quality is there! They are super soft for the weight!
Best thing: the denim is dyed, woven and designed in France. The fibre comes from India, Benin or Tanzania.
Organic cotton denim by Bio-tissus
I can’t tell you anything about this denim for the moment. I wanted to order a sample, but the price was discouraging – a small sample would have cost me 7 euros. I contacted Bio Tissus to see if I could have a free sample to include in this article. To date, I still haven’t received an answer to my email.
The denim is 400g/m², it’s thick, raw. The organic cotton is woven in Turkey, the fibre source and dye undisclosed, but it is GOTS certified, like the other denim fabrics on this list.
Organic cotton denim by lebenskleidung
This is the thickest denim at 430g/m². It’s a very dark blue. There isn’t much information on the site, but the organic cotton comes from Uganda and has a number of certifications: Cotonea Inside, Fair for Life, GOTS, CERES-076, IVN Best. I have no idea where it’s made. No doubt this information could be easily requested.
I haven’t worked with this fabric yet, but it seems to be very high quality – strong and resistant. I’d like to use it to make myself a basic, high-waisted, straight, button-up pair of jeans, or work overalls.
Organic cotton denim by Merchant & Mills
This 406 gr/m2 organic cotton denim is made in Japan. This denim is produced in Okayama, an area famous for its denim mills, indigo dye and its long history of denim weaving. Unfortunatly, the product description doesn't say where the cotton has grown.
This mid-heavy weight denim would be ideal for jeans, overalls, or a jacket. I've order some and will let you know what I think about it as soon as i receive it.