Considering how dirty the denim wash process is (and how much I love denim), it gets me all high on excitement to discover new denim brands who are taking on the initiative to change that. The denim wash process (what’s done to get all those pretty broken in fades on your jeans) uses a lot of water, and oftentimes some pretty gnarly chemicals. It’s typically fairly wasteful. Brands like Patagonia, Joe’s and Parker Smith (along with several others thankfully) have all taken steps to clean up their manufacturing, and I just discovered another!
To be fair, I’ve known about Tortoise Denim for a few months now, but hadn’t come up with a cool way to create a post for them until I was enlightened by a comment on an article from The Jeans Blog featuring Hilary Duff sporting a pair of these jeans, that their washes are all eco-friendly! Naturally, I had to write something. The brand specializes in high quality, thicker, more vintage-inspired denim. For those of you who aren’t into the stretchy types of jeans, this is more up your alley! Vintage denim and brands that are inspired by it isn’t really anything new, but over the last year its popularity has exploded and I’m loving just about everything I see. Tortoise is refreshing to me in the fact that they’ve taken their own beautiful spin on it, not only aesthetically but environmentally as well.
Tortoise was founded in 2014 by Kevin Youn, and is located in Los Angeles. He and his team had worked in the denim industry for over 20 years, and went on a mission to change the traditional ways denim is made by shifting the focus towards respecting the world and precious resources around us. The big drought in California lit a fire underneath them, pushing their initiatives into a sense of urgency. They eliminated the use of toxic chemicals in the wash process while still focusing on showcasing the bright, bold beauty of washed indigo denim that made denim fans like myself fall for it all in the first place. Youn developed a technology called “Wiser Wash,” which uses natural and biodegradable materials along with Ozone which completely negates the need for dangerous chemicals, cuts down drastically on water waste (80-90%), and saves a ton of energy. Water is cleaned and recycled with every wash, and dubbed the name “Nue Water.” It is then used for future washes, and is even used to irrigate their on-site garden which helps them test its purity!
The cool thing here is that Tortoise is actually an in-house denim brand for ECO PRK, founded in 2013 by Kevin Youn, Daniel Park and Myung Koh. This is the company that developed this entire wash process, and they are always working hard to innovate new processes to make denim production as earth-friendly as possible. Because of this, their cleaner technologies span far beyond Tortoise; ECO PRK works with other denim labels to help them establish their own sustainable practices.
The “Tortoise” name represents the brand motto of “slow and steady wins the race,” referring to patience in perfecting earth-friendly practices, wisdom…and the simple fact that tortoises have a very low ecological impact throughout their long lives.
Here are some of my favorite pieces from Tortoise, available at Revolve!
Shop Tortoise and learn more about the brand and ECO PRK here!
Shop the Tortoise collection at Revolve here.