This post is in collaboration with James Jeans.
I take my denim very seriously. In fact, I wear jeans nearly every day, since I work in a casual office (a quick scroll through my blog and Instagram confirms this fact, ha!) But to be honest with you, I rarely wear denim that is ethical and sustainable.
The reason? It’s been hard to find, or, when I do find it, the price has been prohibitive for me. I just cannot spend $300 on a pair of jeans, as much as I may want to support sustainable denim. I imagine many of you are in the same situation.
So, I was pretty excited when the team from Alkhemist, a line by James Jeans, contacted me to try out their denim.
James Jeans are cut, sewn, and laundered in Los Angeles by small local contractors. Their core line is made from post consumer recycled cotton and polyester, and the Alkhemist line is made of cotton and hemp (the technology doesn’t allow for a denim made totally of hemp while maintaining the desired fit and other considerations….yet).
On the Alkhemist name, James Jeans says “in the spirit of ancient alchemists, we believe in the magical process of transforming the most versatile natural resource, hemp, into environmentally responsible and sustainable lifestyle products.”
I tried out two pairs of their Alkhemist jeans, and am excited to share my thoughts with you, since I get so many questions about the denim I wear, if it is sustainable, and so on.
The jeans above are the “Second Skin in Diesel,” and are made of a blend of hemp, cotton and elastane. They retail for $180. That’s more than what I pay for conventional denim (usually around $120), but they are so smooth and comfortable, and, of course, more sustainably made.
Style-wise, they’re kind of a…dare I say it…jegging – but much more stylish than the jeggings of years past. I’d also compare them to a faux-leather legging. I’m looking forward to dressing them up, since they have a bit of a sheen to them, but I love how they look with moto boots for a more casual vibe.
Regarding sizing, these are a 25, and I typically wear a 25. As you can see, they’re a bit tight around the hips, so I’d advise sizing up in these if that sort of creasing bothers you. I usually don’t size up in denim even if there is some tightness in the hips, because when I do, the bum starts to sag by the end of the day (not much of a butt on me, you know?). I am 5’3″ and I need to cuff these, and will potentially hem them. I have about four inches of excess material on the legs, which is more than I usually have in a 25 from other brands. So, note that these do run a little long.
I’ve extolled the virtues of hemp many times here, but as a refresher, hemp is a wonderful fabric. Its carbon footprint is 50% smaller than that of cotton, and cultivating it is more environmentally friendly – largely because it uses significantly less water than other crops. As for why it works well in a denim blend, hemp absorbs dye easily and resists fading (especially important for black denim!). It is also breathable.
The second pair I’ve been wearing (and that you’ve seen hints of on Instagram!) are the Warhol skinny in Bandit wash (currently available in a cropped version), which retail for $138 – much closer to what I spend on conventionally-made denim.
Maybe I’m sort of basic, but I really like distressed jeans! I think they’re cool, and I love how they bring down the dressiness of this Everlane silk shirt (old, similar here) to give the outfit a more effortless feel. I also like distressed jeans because they are easier to sit down on the floor in (which I do a lot for my mirror selfies)…you know, since your knees just poke out of the holes instead of making the knees of your pants all saggy. Is that weird? Probably. Anyway.
You can get a better idea of how I need to cuff them here. This style isn’t as snug as the “Second Skin” – makes sense, right? So definitely stay true to size in these.
If you’re someone who likes stiff, traditional denim, these won’t be the jeans for you. They are soft with good stretch since they do contain 2% elastane. I think denim is more comfortable this way, especially as someone whose weight fluctuates (not that I don’t own more traditional denim as well, but I find I reach for stretch denim more often).
Such a good wash on these!
I’m excited to have found a more reasonably priced, sustainably-made denim line. Admittedly, I do wish the brand didn’t use contractors because I believe that is harder to monitor, but I like the steps they’re taking in using natural fibers, reclaimed hardware and making their line in the U.S. With it taking more than 1,800 gallons of water to make a pair of traditional jeans, a pair that is 50% hemp is a step in the right direction.
Do you wear hemp clothing? Any questions on these jeans or the fit? Drop me a comment!