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Patagonia wants you to know how bad your jeans are for the planet - so you'll buy theirs

Patagonia wants you to know how bad your jeans are for the planet - so you'll buy theirs
One of the men's styles, left, and one of the women's from Patagonia's new denim line. (Patagonia)

Patagonia launched a line of denim this week that the Ventura-based apparel company says has been designed to lessen the blue jeans business' negative effect on the environment.

According to Monday's announcement, eco-friendly features of the new collection include the use of 100% organic cotton, Fair Trade Certified sewing practices and a more environmentally friendly dye.

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Since the company already uses all-organic cotton in its existing denim offerings and has a growing Fair Trade program in place, the big news here is in the indigo dying process – which, as any denim aficionado will tell you, is the heart and soul of the fabric.

The company says that by using dyes that bond more easily to cotton, the dyeing, rinsing and garment-washing processes result in the use of 84% less water, 30% less energy and emit 25% less CO2 than traditional methods.

"Traditional denim is a filthy business. That drove us to change the way our jeans are made," Helena Barbour, director of Patagonia's Sportswear business, said in a prepared statement. "We wanted to find an alternative solution to using the standard indigo dyeing methods we once employed to create denim. It took several years of research, innovation, trial and error, but the result is a new path for denim. We're hopeful other manufacturers will follow suit and help us change the denim industry."

To hammer home just how bad traditionally made blue jeans are for the big blue marble we live on, Patagonia is supporting the launch with a campaign called "Because Denim Is a Filthy Business"  that will appear in its catalogs, on its website and across social media. (You have to appreciate the company's out-of-the-curve marketing efforts; just about this time last year it launched a series of ads headlined "We Have the Best Weed in Town (and we're giving it away)."

To be fair, it's not as if other denim makers have totally dropped the ball on this front. Levi Strauss & Co., for one, has been banging the sustainability / environmental impact drum for a few years now. Among Levi's recent efforts: educating the consumer to wash their jeans less, encouraging in-store recycling with a hefty 20% discount and (back in 2010, it's worth noting) launching a Water<Less line of denim manufactured using an average of 28% less water per pair of jeans.

Patagonia's new line consists of three options for men (regular and straight fits in 100% cotton, $99, and a straight fit in a cotton/stretch blend, $119) and three for women (straight, slim and boyfriend crop all in cotton/stretch blends, $99) and is currently available at Patagonia stores, partner retailers and online at www.patagonia.com.

For the latest in fashion and style news, follow me @ARTschorn.

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