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Welcome to THE
AlliANCE for Responsible Denim

The Alliance for Responsible Denim (ARD) was a research project from the Collaborative Innovation & Entrepreneurship professorship at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. ARD was active from 2016 to 2018 and aimed to bring denim brands and suppliers together in a precompetitive setting to advance sustainable production of denim products. Even though ARD is inactive, the resources and information are still available on this site.


The professorship continues to research multi-stakeholder collaborations and innovation in the context of sustainable and responsible production. You can find more information about our research here

Thank you for your interest in the Alliance for Responsible Denim. Feel free to contact us for more information.

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Together, creating a cleaner & smarter denim industry.

our mission

With our purpose to make our industry cleaner & smarter, we, members of the Alliance for Responsible Denim, are strongly aligned in our desire to produce denim in a sustainable way. We aim to collaborate together to achieve this goal. 

our vision

The denim industry cannot continue along its current path. Companies face complicated sustainability issues larger than they can address individually. By combining resources and efforts we can be more effective in addressing them. 

denim textile


The Alliance for Responsible Denim (ARD) is an initiative from Made-By, Circle Economy and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

​ARD  brings denim brands together to collectively take steps towards improving the ecological sustainability impact of denim production. 


These first steps include establishing measurements, benchmarks and standards for resource use (e.g. chemicals, water, energy) and recycled denim. Listen to a UN broadcast highlighting our work.


For more information, please read our charter

Denim Brands and Suppliers

Our consortium consists of key stakeholders and experts from the denim industry. Although based in Amsterdam, ARD represents international denim brands and suppliers.

our Projects

Wet Processing Benchmark

This project focuses on improving the environmental impact of denim finishing. Brands are guided by laundry experts, from both the chemical and the technology side, in diagnosing their conventional washes. Gaining valuable advice & knowledge to lower the EIM scores on their Never-Out-of-Stock styles.

Post-Consumer Recycled Denim Standard

Led by Circle Economy, this working group focuses on developing a preferred industry buying standard, defining a business model and road map for the introduction and scaling up of Post-Consumer-Recycled-Denim (PCRD) production. Our hope is that the establishment of a preferred buying standard can increase volume of PCRD and further its adoption in the industry.




Created by Made-By, this questionnaire allows for the collection of wash recipe specifications in order to find areas of improvement -either through chemical and/or machinery adoption & water reduction. Please email if you would like to receive our interactive Excel version to send to suppliers. 



In our effort to adopt more post-consumer recycled denim into the collections of our members, the Alliance for Responsible Denim is continually growing our PCRD database and library in collaboration with our partner mills. An overview of fabrics can be downloaded here.

The Alliance for Responsible Denim has at its core, the goal to create a smarter and cleaner denim industry. In our efforts to accomplish this, we see it as being essential to share our insights & tools with all relevant industry stakeholders. Our resources are open-source and can be downloaded.. If there are any questions regarding their usage, feel free to contact us at Resources will be continually added and developed.


Circle Economy is a social enterprise with the mission to empower a global community of businesses, cities and governments to accelerate the transition to the circular economy through practical and scalable insights and solutions, that address humanity’s greatest challenges. The mission for the Circle Textiles Programme is to ‘close the loop’ for textiles, and create a zero waste industry whereby textile products, fabrics, and fibers are continually cycled through connected loops, across industries, in a transparent and economical way. Together with an ecosystem of brands, collectors, sorters and recyclers, Circle Economy produces the data, tools and pilot projects that are critically needed to achieve a circular textiles industry.

Made-By is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to make sustainable fashion common practice. The team works internationally with brands, retailers and suppliers to improve environmental and social conditions within the apparel value chain. MADE-BY is also well known for its publicly available benchmarks on fibers and wet processing.

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is a higher education institution. The research center, Centre for Applied Research in Economics and Management (CAREM) received a research grant from the Dutch government to engage in research with small and medium sized businesses. The research goal is to better understand and provide best practices for the process of collaborating with competitors to improve sustainability impact.


denim supply chain

There are three major ecological issues facing the denim industry: water, energy and chemicals. The use of these resources is concentrated at four stages of the production process: cotton cultivation, dyeing, fabric finishing and garment finishing. ARD focuses on reducing resource use in these four stages.


Cotton Cultivation - Post-Consumer-Recycled Denim

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that it takes 20,000 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of cotton and that current production methods are unsustainable. By incorporating post-consumer-recycled denim (PCRD), which is regenerated fibres from worn, rejected or discarded garments, we can reduce the need for new/virgin cotton, thus saving billions of gallons of water. Additionally discarded garments are used as a resource for new fabric production, which reduces waste that ends up in landfills or combustion. The technology and supply chain infrastructure to create and support post-consumer recycled denim is evolving but has not yet been adopted due to economies of scale in current production practices.


Dyeing, Fabric- & Garment Finishing -

Lowering the Environmental Impact of Wet Processing

The wet processing of denim production occurs in the stages of dyeing, fabric finishing and garment finishing and consists of several different techniques and technologies that consume varying levels of water, energy and chemicals. Currently it is difficult to determine what is sustainable or unsustainable in denim finishing. Alternative technologies to traditional practices may reduce water use but increase energy use. Defining measurements and benchmarks of finishing techniques is an important first step to improving the sustainability impact of a denim garment.

ARD has chosen to concentrate its collective effort in areas where maximum sustainability impact can be achieved – improving the ecological impact of processes in the above four stages. This excludes other aspects of denim production such as sewing threads, buttons, zippers and leather patches. It also means that reducing the carbon footprint of transportation and social compliance are excluded from the scope. However, individual members address these and other sustainability concerns in their own corporate social responsibility policies.

denim supply chain steps
Our Mission
About Us
Denim Supply Chain


ARD honoured to be in the Rivet-50

October 25, 2018

Rivet’s Influential 50 is an index of the most creative and forward-thinking leaders driving the global jeanswear industry. The Influential 50 represent the upward direction the denim community strives for with each new collection, innovation and technology.

ARD to launch Denim Democracy Exhibition

October 08, 2018

During Amsterdam Denim Day's from Oct. 22-26th, the Alliance for Responsible Denim will be launching our travelling exhibition titled 'Denim Democracy'. Designed by Karena Codona, Denim Democracy highlights the collaborative journey our members have been on over the past 2 years. An event & panel discussion organized by Pakhuis de Zwijger and hosted by Circl will take place on the 23rd. 

In November you can find us in Lil'Amsterdam at Central Station. 

Kuyichi's Classic Blue

September 23, 2018

Kuyichi have been active & dedicated members within the Alliance. Check out their sustainable journey on their blog, as they pioneer for responsible denim. 

The Time is Now for Recycled Cotton

Read Helene Smits' own piece on the urgency of adopting recycled textiles, and why an industry wide approach is necessary for real progress. 

A Friend In Garmon

July 30, 2018

Garmon is helping denim brands adopt best practices for sustainable manufacturing. In June, the company teamed up with the Alliance for Responsible Denim to host “doctor visits” with six denim brands.

Doctor Visits, an ARD Success

June 11, 2018

In an effort to help brands minimize the environmental impact of their jeans' finishing processes, Made-By, along with experts from Jeanologia, Tonello, Rudolf & Garmon have just completed their 2nd round of Dr. Visits.

Taking Sustainability to the United Nations

For real change to happen at the speed at which it needs to happen, policymakers need to be made aware of the urgency, and the United Nation provides just the right audience. Dutch article and a picture of our stand can be found here

Alliance for Responsible Denim at the United Nations HQ

July 02, 2018

The Alliance for Responsible Denim will be showcasing during the High-Level Political Forum at the United Nations headquarters in NYC from the 9th-18th of July. We will be highlighting and sharing the work our members and partners have done to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals 6, 7, 12 and 17. 

Greening Blue Jeans - Insights into collaboration

June 27, 2019

Read about the insights being gained from our multi-stakeholder collaboration. Published in Network for Business Sustainability, by Garima Sharma. 

June 06, 2018

What does it take to scale post-consumer recycled denim? Dr. Lori DiVito, Helene Smits and Alliance brand members spoke at Denim PV about the steps they have taken and continue to take to close the loop. 

Textile Exchange - Organic Cotton Round Table

May 09, 2018

The Alliance for Responsible Denim will be taking-part in the Textile Exchange's round-table discussion in Izmir, Turkey on the 10th and 11th of May. We are honored to be invited to share the research coming out of our open-innovation platform and to provide initial insights into competitor collaboration for sustainability within the denim industry. 

Fashion Revolution NL - How Blue are your jeans?

April 22, 2018

The Alliance for Responsible Denim, along with MUD Jeans and HNST Jeans, spoke on the improvements brands and initiatives have undergone to create a smarter and cleaner denim industry since the filming of the China Blue documentary in 2005. As the kickoff event to Fashion Revolution Netherlands, it is time people ask and know, 'Who made my clothes?'

Join our 'Smart Talk' at Denim PV - May 23rd @ 3pm

From denim to denim, the future in a blue world. In the future we will need to produce more and better in order to answer to the needs of the future generations and to respect the planet.
Will the denim value chain be ready for this challenge? Is the Circular Economy a possible answer?

With the guidance of Helene Smits in collaboration with Alliance for Responsible Denim a workshop that will look at the Circular Economy from the denim perspective.

PCRD Innovation Featured in Rivet

April 15, 2018

Read about the future of pre- & post-consumer recycled denim, and the Alliance's dedication to seeing it become the norm, rather than the exception. 

WGSN Features ARD

February 05, 2018

Check-out not only the innovation happening within the Alliance, but also across the industry in fabrics and textiles that were showcased at this year's 7th Future Fabrics Expo. More information can be found on WGSN under the sub-heading Trade Shows, Future Fabrics Expo.

ARD Showcasing @ 7th Future Fabrics Expo

January 23, 2018

The Alliance for Responsible Denim will be showcasing on the 24-25th of January the post-consumer recycled denim fabrics developed by our alliance partner mills:  Orta, DDI, Enschede Textielstad, Wolkat, Seazon-tex, Royo & Tavex. Come check-us out and the amazing innovation taking plus in the field of textiles. 

NRC Live: Cooperation, the Key to Success

November 27, 2017

The Alliance for Responsible Denim was invited to speak on our approach to industry wide cooperation. When all parties involved work together and share responsibilities are innovative solutions found and real value added. A night full of insight and drive that sought to answer which parties are needed to initiate a movement?; what is the potential of the"unlikely allies" and what are success factors for a good cooperation?

Denim Alliance at Denim Première Vision

November 19, 2017

The future is circular! Presenting at Denim PV in Paris, the Denim Alliance highlighted the active steps we are taking to create a smarter and cleaner industry. Click here for the full article. 

Alliance for Responsible Denim calls on the industry to use more recycled Denim

October 30, 2017

FashionUnited was present at the Alliance for Responsible Denim's Long Live Denim event.


Encouraging the adoption of more post-consumer recycled denim, the event garnered attention around fabric innovation; peaking brands' interests and demand. 

The Alliance for Responsible Denim Goes Beyond the Blah Blah

October 19, 2017

Time to stop talking, it's time we start acting. At the annual Beyond Green event hosted by Circle Economy and the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, the Alliance was inspired to continue our pioneering spirit to circularity. 


October 26, 2017

See the latest and greatest innovations in post-consumer recycled denim (PCRD).


Read the press release here.

Gala of Sciences

November 21, 2016

During the Gala of Sciences, the research project of the Alliance for Responsible Denim was presented. Read the press release here.

Kickoff Alliance for Responsible Denim

October 13, 2016

Denim City hosted the Kickoff of the Alliance for Responsible Denim project. Read the press release here.

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