Observer Ethical Awards 2015 winners: Nudie Jeans

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The jean company, winner of the Sustainable Style Award sponsored by Eco Age, on the lasting appeal of denim.

 Jean genius: sales and marketing director Andreas Ahrman photographed at the Nudie store in Soho.
Jean genius: sales and marketing director Andreas Ahrman photographed at the Nudie store in Soho. Image: Guardian


Andreas Åhrman, global sales and marketing director of Nudie Jeans, bought his first denim from the company back in 2003, when he was still a student. “I knew a guy who worked at the store who got me a discount. I got carried away and tried to buy three pairs and some T-shirts, and my credit card got refused. The staff were so nice they let me pay the difference when I had more money. That was pretty impressive.”

In the 12 years since, the Nudie attitude to suppliers and customers hasn’t changed that much. The company is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, which strives to improve working conditions in the textile industry. It also works with Textile Exchange – an organisation that supports the organic cotton industry. Nudie only partners with a small, carefully picked group of suppliers so it’s possible to ensure that they comply to the Nudie code of conduct.

As a customer, if you buy their jeans, they’ll repair them for you. If you’re bored of their jeans, hand them into a store and you get a 20% discount off your next pair and Nudie recycles the denim.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not easy to stick to your principles: “It was a huge struggle at the beginning. We wanted to be 100% organic, but we weren’t big enough to buy in that sort of bulk. Now we can buy large amounts and that helps our supplier to sell small orders to smaller companies. It would have really helped if something like Nudie had been around when we were starting out.”

Now, though, Åhrman says the company message is simple: “Buy high-quality product. Look after it and repair it. When you’re sick of it, share it though our repair shop or by giving it to a friend. Keep clothes alive so we can reduce consumption.”

**This post first  appeared on The Guardian here.

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