What’s the deal with eco denim?

While there’s absolutely nothing in the world like a pair of well-loved jeans, a denim jacket, or an oversized denim shirt, we’re not super enthused about the environmental impact that denim - more specifically, cotton - has on the earth.

And if we’re going to give a complete opinion on the matter, cotton production also fuels a bunch of massive human rights issues (which we dove into in our recent blog post about the downright shocking use of slave labour in cotton factories in Xinjiang).

In short: we love denim, but we really don’t love the way it’s made.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative.



Normal denim vs eco denim - what’s the difference?

Eco denim is made of TENCEL, a sustainable fabric composed of blended wood fibres, like eucalyptus - i.e. fast-growing grasses and trees that regenerate quickly, can be harvested sustainably, and employ low-impact production techniques. 

TENCEL production also scores brownie points for its relatively low water usage compared with the production of cotton - which, as it stands, is one of the most resource-heavy and polluting fabrics on the planet.


On a practical note

We literally live for the changes the fashion industry develop to become more environmentally responsible - but it sucks when that comes at the cost of quality. So an important question for us to ask is: how does TENCEL denim stand up to the traditional denim we’ve grown to know and love over the past 150-ish years?

Let’s break it down.

TENCEL denim is:

Strong and hard-wearing

One of the properties that catapulted traditional denim to global popularity is its durability; whether for everyday jeans or workwear, it’s denim’s ability to take a beating that makes it so versatile. 

So, how does eco denim compare? 

Thanks to its cellulose fibre composition, eco denim is extremely durable and long-lasting - just like its traditional counterpart.

Smooth and soft to the touch

Because TENCEL is created using a process that blends its base materials to an extremely fine fibre, the finished product is extra smooth, soft, and comfy against your skin.

Good at retaining its shape and texture over time

TENCEL’s cross-section composition keeps the fabric soft, flexible, and in-shape even after repeated washes and wears. Current evaluations suggest that TENCEL’s eco denim trumps traditional cotton two-fold in this regard.


TENCEL is derived completely from natural botanical sources, and because of this, its composition is conducive to the absorption and release of moisture. By enhancing the body’s own temperature regulation capabilities, the fabric is naturally sweat-wicking and comfortable to wear no matter the weather or climate you find yourself in.

Colour retentive

Colour pigments are deeply embedded in TENCEL’s fibrous composition, which means that clothes will retain their colour vibrancy much more than traditionally dyed fabrics (yay for the life span of your clothes AND for the environment). 

Of botanical origin

Part of the simple beauty of TENCEL is that it’s totally made of natural materials, and all the wood and pulp that’s used to create the fabric is certified and sustainably harvested.

Environmentally sound

TENCEL has earned awards and gained recognition for its revolutionary low-impact production processes. Its closed-loop technique turns sustainably grown wood pulp into cellulose fibres using minimal water and high resource efficiency. 

When one considers all of these awesome properties, it comes as little surprise that some of the world’s biggest names in fashion - like Levi’s and Guess - are now using TENCEL in their collections.



Maria Malo’s collection of eco denim designs

Eco denim dungarees

Featuring a slouchy fit and a drawstring waist, these eco denim dungarees are all vintage vibes and maxed out comfort. They look awesome rolled up a little bit by the ankles, and you can give them a more feminine look by nipping in the waistline with the drawstrings. Simple stringy straps complement a basic t-shirt, crop top, or a bikini if you’re feeling a little cheekier.


Eco denim cardigan

Part blazer part ‘this is my boyfriend’s shirt’, this oversized eco denim cardi is a favourite in our new collection because, quite simply, she goes with everything. Chuck her on over your beachwear by day or pair her with one of our staple sustainable dresses by night.

Cuff up the sleeves for a more casual look and stuff your lippy and keys in the deep pockets - perfection.


Eco denim shorts

These eco denim shorts are mega comfy and cute - a winning combo. The thick waistband on over-the-hip cut makes them really flattering, while the button detail on the front adds a little extra interest to an otherwise understated design. A wardrobe essential for summers and hot weather climates.


A final word on eco denim

If you’re looking for a sustainable alternative to traditional denim clothing, eco denim is the way forward. Its production process uses far less water, is less polluting, and is significantly lower impact than normal denim. 

While traditional denim is made from cotton, which is one of the most polluting and genetically modified crops in the world, TENCEL eco denim is derived entirely from botanical sources, all of which are certified, sustainably harvested, and have minimal impact on the land they utilise.

All the while, eco denim is hardwearing yet soft, long-lasting, breathable and sweat-wicking, colour retentive, and flexible. In our eyes, this fabric is a total winner and one we’ll be stocking our sustainable wardrobe with for years to come.


Thank you for choosing sustainable
Maria Malo