Sustainability has been at the core of the Outerknown brand since it was cofounded five years ago by world champion surfer and environmental activist Kelly Slater.
Originally started as a men’s brand, Outerknown launched women’s last year with a similar sustainability message. On Thursday, the California-based brand will open up for pre-order a new jean for women that uses a natural, plant-based, biodegradable rubber, which offers a renewable alternative to the synthetic fibers that give most jeans their stretch attributes.
Megan Stoneburner, director of sustainability and sourcing for Outerknown, said the Coreva Stretch Technology that is being used in the company’s Iconoclast High Rise Skinny Jeans were developed with the Candiani mill in Milan.
“Most jeans are blended with synthetic fibers,” Stoneburner explained. But these plastic- or oil-based products don’t break down and forever pollute landfills. So Outerknown started searching for a biodegradable alternative that would offer the same attributes and found Candiani, whose tag line is the “Greenest Mill in the Blue World.” Candiani had developed Coreva, a plant-based yarn obtained from natural rubber that could replace synthetic, oil-based yarns. The yarn is comprised of organic cotton wrapped around a natural rubber core that offers the same elasticity and durability as jeans made with synthetic fibers.
Stoneburner said she wear-tested the jeans and they “feel like compression pants — they’re really incredible — they hug in all the right places and feel like yoga pants.”
Coreva will first be offered in one model in the women’s line, but will eventually expand to other silhouettes and is expected to roll out to the men’s as well, she said.
Outerknown in April launched a plan to be fully circular by 2030. Right now, 90 percent of the fibers used in the line are organic, recycled or regenerated and 100 percent of the men’s swim trunks are made of recycled or renewable fibers. Its jeans are guaranteed for life and the company will repair, replace or recycle worn or torn items to keep them out of landfills.
It also works with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on its Jeans Redesign program, which establish minimum requirements for the durability, material health, recyclability and traceability of jeans.
Stoneburner said customers respond to Outerknown’s sustainability message and sales increase when their sustainable attributes are called out.
The jeans made with Coreva will retail for the same price as Outerknown’s other denim offerings, which range on average from $128 to $198.