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Frame Just Unveiled Its First Biodegradable Jeans

The brand's newest products drastically lessen denim's toll on the environment and look good while doing it.

Frame's new biodegradable jeans. Frame

These days, it can be difficult to discern which brands are just paying lip service to sustainability and which are making real commitments to lowering their carbon footprint—and with its new biodegradable jeans, Frame positions itself firmly in the latter category.

The launch is an important new step for the brand. After all, the story of Frame, which now bills itself as an “American fashion brand,” began with denim. Its signature “Le Skinny de Jeanne” debuted in 2012, and seemingly overnight became one of the most coveted women’s jeans on the market—known for its soft wash, perfect fit and not-trying-too-hard minimal vibe (which felt like a massive pendulum swing away from maximalist True Religion and Seven for All Mankind). Over time, founders Erik Torstensson and Jens Grede expanded the brand into full-blown women’s and men’s collections specializing in denim, cotton, leather and cashmere. And now, that values-based production is becoming a pillar of the brand.

“I think denim has historically been one of the least eco-friendly fabrics,” Torstensson tells us. From the water required to grow the cotton to burning carbon-based energy while spinning the fibers, using petroleum-based fabrics in stretch denim, the enormous volumes of water and chemical stone washes and dyes required for washing that perfect shade of blue—denim is far from clean.

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Two washes of Frame's new biodegradable jeans (from $210).

Two washes of Frame’s new biodegradable jeans (from $210).  Frame

And while resources and technology were very limited even as recently as ten years ago, Torstensson shares that it felt like the right time for Frame to start offering a biodegradable, reduced-footprint jean. Their fabric is sourced from family-run Candiani in Milan, which has woven some of the world’s top denim for 80 years.

“We tackled how to construct sustainable denim without compromising the Frame jean we all know and love,” he says. “Then everything else fell into place: reconstructing buttons and zippers for easy removal, removing metal rivets at the pockets, utilizing thread that degrades with the garment—altogether with our sustainable wash methods, we achieved a jean that was not only visually comparable to our other comfortable and modern jeans but also minimal in impact. It’s our smallest carbon footprint yet.”

An recycled denim sculpture at Harrod's, one of several commissioned for Frame's store windows.

A recycled denim sculpture at Harrod’s, one of several commissioned for Frame’s store windows.  Frame

Each pair of biodegradable jeans is created according to FRAME’s “Four Pillars of Responsible Washing,” which means no bleach, no potassium permanganate, no stone-washing and using water-saving machinery. The range features three new fabrics: Rigid 727, Comfort Stretch 785, and Super Stretch 778, all of which degrade respective to how much stretch is woven throughout each fabric (but, ultimately, all are degradable).

The sustainable jeans of recent years have often felt a little stiff, a little dowdy, a little ’90s. Luckily, that isn’t the case here. Frame worked carefully to recreate the same soft feel, versatile washes and—depending which fabric you go for—just enough stretch to flatter a wide range of body types. (Personally, as someone with very thick thighs and calves, Frame is one of the few brands that makes jeans that I can wear.)

Ultimately, this biodegradable collection is a step in the right direction—but it will be interesting to see how Frame leverages sustainability and transparency in the rest of their product range. “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Frame,” says Torstensson. “Our customers are global citizens, men and women who are looking for timeless garments that don’t cut corners. Our commitment to clever design, research and testing means sustainable practices that enhance their wardrobes without compromising the planet.” At least for now, blue jeans have never been so green.

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