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Bluesign Names Madewell First US Denim System Partner

Aug 21, 2023

After nearly a year of selling Bluesign-approved jeans, Madewell became the first U.S. denim brand recognized by the sustainability authority as a “system partner” Wednesday.

The two companies’ collaboration began last fall, when Madewell launched the first denim style crafted with Bluesign-approved Isko fabric. Last month, Madewell reported plans to launch 13 new styles of jeans made with Bluesign-approved materials this year. The newly signed system partnership “further reinforces” Madewell’s commitment to sustainable denim production, Bluesign said.

The Madewell partnership announcement followed the introduction of “Bluesign Denim” last month. The concept highlights the importance of clean chemistry and production processes, Bluesign said. It will cover fabric and garment production steps that meet Bluesign criteria, “ensuring safety of workers, the environment and consumers,” the company added. Bluesign CEO Daniel Rüfenacht said he expects more brands will follow in Madewell’s footsteps and join the denim initiative.

“Our Bluesign Denim initiative aims to revolutionize the way denim is produced, ensuring that clean chemistry and clean production processes are at the heart of the system partner mills and laundries,” Bluesign CEO Daniel Rüfenacht said in a statement. “With Madewell as our first US denim brand system partner, we are taking a major stride towards leading the industry with a transformational approach to denim production.”

Wednesday’s announcement came exactly two weeks after Bluesign gave the systems partner distinction to rubber footwear sole company Vibram. The collaborators began working together two years ago, amassing data from suppliers highlighting the hazardous substances typically used in footwear production. Vibram and Bluesign then collaborated with chemical suppliers to develop strategies to reduce or replace harmful compounds in footwear. Today, the two are working together to analyze and certify the inputs in Vibram’s Component Shoe, a glue-free style made with recycled rubber and a high percentage of non-synthetic ingredients.

Last month, Madewell published its 2022 ESG “Do Well” report, offering an update on the company’s sustainability strategy. The document outlined the inroads the J.Crew Group brand has made in fostering regenerative agriculture, promoting resale and supporting Fair Trade Certified supply chain partners.

Last year, 53 percent of the cotton Madewell used came from “more sustainable sources.” Better Cotton made up the vast majority of this number, accounting for 47 percent of its overall cotton inputs. The company intends to source 100 percent of its cotton from “more sustainable sources” by 2025.

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