While these jeans are fashionable in its simplicity, the cotton material has a big environmental impact. With the prices of these jeans ranging from $180-$200, they are definitely an investment. The price makes these jeans not as economically accessible to most and as an “alternative” to fast fashion, almost virtually impossible to purchase unless the consumer has a high income. Overall the hype for these jeans is not worth it as a “sustainable” option because they are essentially a product of fast fashion. The company, Agolde, tries to be transparent about its production process, but does not succeed as they themselves do not to an active approach in trying to be sustainable other than an on paper acceptance.
These jeans are denim material made of 100% cotton. According to their website (https://agolde.com/products/criss-cross-upsized-jean-suburbia), the materials are imported into the US from outside manufacturers and suppliers. The production of non organic cotton material contributes to environmental pollution through the use of pesticides and insecticides. It also exposes both the cotton producers and consumers to toxic carcinogenic chemicals, which are chemicals that can cause the formation of cancerous cells, that are used in production of it. Cotton cultivation also degrades the soil quality and the water used to cultivate cotton contains runoff of pesticides and insecticides, and other chemicals which can contaminant nearby bodies of water; This would affect biodiversity as through immediate toxicity or through long term accumulation of these chemicals. The use of 100% cotton rather than organic cotton makes the choice in materials a not sustainable option. Although, their mission statement mentions the use of “advanced methods to reduce imprint on the environment, including laser technology, ozone machines and high-efficiency wash methods.”
Agolde apparel is manufactured in California or Turkey in facilities owned by or affiliated with Citizens of Humanity, another clothing line company. Citizens of Humanity work closely with factories in California and Turkey, allowing them to oversee and confirm that the clothing pieces are ethically made to an extent, meaning “that no forced labor or human trafficking occurs in the manufacture of its AGOLDE products.” Fabrics and materials are imported from outside the US and Citizens of Humanity requires that manufacturers and suppliers agree to the laws of manufacturing in the country in which the materials are manufactured in. This includes laws relating to employment practices and the treatment of their employees in an acceptable way. Manufacturers and suppliers are also required to agree to not use “child labor or any forced, prison, indentured or bonded labor or use corporal punishment or other mental or physical disciplinary actions or engage in sexual harassment.” While this is promising, the company is not transparent in which exact suppliers or manufactures are used and do not take the full initiative in looking into how these imported materials are made. They rely on a company, Citizens of Humanity, with a similar mission statement, but because sustainability is so broad, something that the company could possibly disagree with many be occurring and they wont even know because they are not directly involved. The company Agolde relies on, Citizens of Humanity, does not audit their manufacturers and suppliers in any way other than making these manufacturers and suppliers sign a written Code of Conduct and Standards of Business Practices. If information about not adhering to these standards becomes known, Citizens of Humanity will then dissolve their relationship and eliminate the supplier/manufacturer.
While Agolde pays fair wages to employees in America because those are the laws, they do not follow through with this belief when paying for imported materials from other countries. The company Agolde partners with, Citizens of Humanity, to oversee manufacturing, requires a signed written Code of Conduct and Standards of Business Practices. However, Citizens of Humanity does not audit its suppliers or manufacturers. Therefore, there is no way to tell if there are uses of unethical labor. If information about not adhering to these standards becomes apparent, Citizens of Humanity will dissolve their relationship and eliminate the supplier/manufacturer. Because of the price of these jeans ($180-$200+), I would have believed ALL people involved in manufacturing these jeans would be paid fairly and hopefully a livable wage.