Fashion's Dirty Secrets - and how Forge works to address these issues.


On Monday 8th October BBC3 showed a new documentary “Fashion’s Dirty Secrets” highlighting the environmental and social costs of the fast fashion industry. If you haven’t already watched this, please do - it reveals the quite staggering scale of the problem.

  • 100 billion new clothes are made every year - a level of production that is just not environmentally sustainable

  • Uzbekistan is now the seventh largest cotton producer in the world. The water required to manufacture this quantity of cotton has completely drained a sea that was the size of Ireland, turning a green and fertile area into an arid desert, and where the local population now suffers from frequent toxic dust storms.

  • High Street brands are driving this level of production with a financial model dependent on the constant purchasing of disposable fashion.

At Forge Denim we have never felt comfortable with a ‘fast fashion’ ethos. The impetus behind the creation of Forge Denim was our love of high end, Japanese selvedge denim, which in many ways is the antithesis of fast fashion. The jeans that we inspired us are made to last for years and are produced in small quantities, using very carefully selected materials and are manufactured in a way that cares for both the environment and the workforce.

When we began Forge Denim it was important to us that, not only did we make well designed, high quality and durable clothing, but also that we were comfortable with the ethics of the way in which our clothes were manufactured. We spent a lot of time and money sourcing fabrics and working with factories that understood these issues. We know that our clothes are relatively expensive, but there are good reasons for this, and we are proud of the clothes we produce and the suppliers we work with.

One of the most disheartening aspects of “Fashion’s Dirty Secrets” was that none of the High Streets brands that were approached, agreed to participate in the programme. Not everyone in the clothing sector behaves like this. At Forge Denim we are part of a community that prioritises craftsmanship, sustainability and durability and where companies are constantly looking for ways to reduct their environmental impact. We like that fact that we, along with many other denim / workwear companies, emphasise the longevity of our products and the unique wear and fade that occurs when clothing is worn for several years. Although manufacturing clothing is not an environmentally neutral activity, some exciting new developments are taking place - for example in new ‘wash’ techniques for denim which do not require excessive amounts of water.

So - given the issues that “Fashion’s Dirty Secrets” highlights, what can we do? For our part we will continue to be committed to making clothes with carefully sourced fabrics and suppliers so as to minimise our environmental impact. We believe in ‘slow fashion’ and we make our clothes to last for years. If you buy a garment from us please choose carefully, it’s going to be with you for a very long time.

David Edwards