this or that: ethical denim

top :
fashionABLE  denim, tank, tote + mules
Everlane denim, box cut tee

If you've been around me or this blog for very long, you've for sure heard me talk about Everlane and fashionABLE - two companies I love and have shopped for years.  Both companies have taught me about the fashion industry in deeper ways than walking into a store and picking something off the rack without a second thought.  We should always be asking ourselves, what is the real cost beyond my own wallet?  How does my purchase affect those in the creation line of this garment?  How does it impact the environment?  I love that these companies are pushing pause on the fast pace consumer culture and pointing out that we have a choice.

Recently both these companies launched denim, so this post will focus on comparing the two lines, breaking down their style and ethical factors.    From both Everlane and fashionABLE I chose their highest waist option. 

Bullet point break down comparison /

color + style choices: 8
size range: 24 - 32
price: $128 - $148
build: 92% cotton, 6% poly, 2% Elastane
organic: no
inseam on “high rise”: 30”
front rise on “high rise”: 10 3/8”
hem: raw
fit: true to size
feel: soft, thinner but warm
label: brown leather simple lettering ABLE
after 5 days: some stretching
after first wash: return to shape and no color fading 
ethical denim: looking to build serious long term solutions to poverty by providing women opportunities in at risk communities both local and global. made in a Mexico facility that exceeds industry regulations in environmental safety and protection with 100% of its water recycled. They also recycle all scraps of denim from cutting and sewing, giving to the government to use for housing insulation

color + style choices: 15
size range: 24-32
price: $68
build: 98% cotton, 2% elastane 
organic: no
inseam on “high rise”: 28.5”
front rise on “high rise”: 10”
hem: standard
fit: true to size
feel: sturdy, thick but soft
label: no outside label
after 5 days: slack and sag in rear & hips
after first wash: return to shape and no color fading
ethical denim: made in LEED-certified facility in Vietnam that recycles 98% of its water, relies on alternative energy sources, and repurposes byproducts to create premium jeans—minus the waste.  "Radical transparency" - revealing the costs behind every aspect of their production process vs. traditional mark ups.  

Visual fit comparison /  

I am 5'8" and wearing a size 26 in both brands.

Obvious differences / style

I did some informal surveying via social media about what was the most important thing as a consumer when purchasing denim.  Where there was some desire for ethically sourced denim and being able to trust a brand, when it came down to it, people are not going to wear denim that doesn't suit their style preferences and body type needs.  

The main style differences between the two high waist versions were the inseam and the fabric content.  For me, the "Regular" from Everlane is too short.  Though you can purchase high waste in "ankle," they do not yet offer in a "long" length.  fashionABLE offer's only one length in their high rise denim, however - they do offer free in store hemming - or - if purchased online you can send in receipt and picture of your professional hemming and they will give you a $15 shop credit.

As far as fabric content goes, Evernlane's return to a more historical  "less distressed, less elastic" fabric make up is refreshing (watch their campaign video), however, the majority of those who volunteered their opinion in my survey (woman ages 19 - 65) are looking for more give in their jeans, basically, don't mess with their stretch -- whether its for their changing body post birthing babies or as one younger reader wrote, "how burrito proof" they are.  When it comes down to the stretch factor, fashionABLE's denim is better designed to fit those needs and while it does stretch with a woman's body between washes, I have magically found them not to lose their shape or proportions.

On the other side of the style coin, and where Everlane is stepping in and saying "yes, lets go back to the original" a good handful of the responses I received are in fact looking for good structure without distressing (fabricated holes or tears) or special trendy embellishments.  If you are looking for a more subtle classic denim, perhaps Everlane should be your pick.  

Obvious differences / price

One of Everlane's main missions is revealing the true cost of their products.  They break down the cost of material, product, duties etc. and reveal their mark up percentage vs. traditional retail mark ups.  For the denim they sell at $68, they reveal their true cost is just over $28 per pair or jeans which includes around $7 for labor.  Based on their own compliance audits, their denim factory scores 90% or higher on fair wages and reasonable hours, but that is about as much as is revealed about their employees.

Clearly, the fashionABLE denim is double this cost, but I don't think this is cause for us to think they are pocketing the difference in "traditional mark up" costs.  A look into the factory used by fashionABLE reveals that workers are paid more than the fair wage determined by the local government.  In fact, workers at the Motul, Mexico factory used by fashionABLE are paid 30% over a general wage in the area. In addition, they offer 25-35% salary bonus opportunities based on quality, production, and attendance. Other benefits include a subsidized breakfast and lunch during breaks, and 0% interest loans for medical, housing, and school emergencies.  Weighing those benefit costs against the higher price tag is something you can feel good about in my opinion, not opulent.

Final thoughts /

I like both pairs and from an ethical standpoint I feel these are both good purchase choices.  I will continue wearing both and will continue giving support to both companies. I never knew much about the denim making process before these two brands launched their lines and am so thankful for both factories to use 98- 100% recycled water (you should read more about the denim process if you're like me and had no idea).

My wallet might better be able to afford the pair of jeans that Everlane has created -- its an accessible price for quality clean denim.  The higher price of fashionABLE's denim is not insignificant, however I think the product they are offering does fall more in line with what the majority of women in my circles are looking for.  More than that, what the women who work at fashionABLE's factories and facilities receive is priceless and I like knowing that they receive above and beyond whats minimal.  So while Everlane does provide several layers of transparency for their garments, knowing more specifically who is employed and how by fashionABLE is something I'm willing to pay for.     

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Shop more from fashionABLE/ leather purses + luggage, shoes, jewelry, women's apparel
Shop more from Everlane/ men's and women's apparel, shoes, backpacks + weekenders

all opinions are my own. this is not a sponsored post though affiliate & referral links have been used.


  1. This is so great, Blair! I was with a friend the other weekend who was raving about Everlane's jeans and I had no idea fashionABLE was offering them as well until your post.


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