There are three things I like to buy new as opposed buying used like the remaining clothing found in my closet: undergarments, shoes, and jeans.
I have four pair of jeans from two companies: Everlane and Levi. If I had a more athletic build and liked stretch in my denim, I'd add Patagonia to the mix. Patagonia recently released a new, workwear style that spun steel into their denim thread - what?!
Of all the fibers, denim is the thirstiest. It uses so much water to grow the cotton and then to dye the fiber. Any distressing added afterward is really bad for humans if they aren't properly outfitted with masks and ventilation, and doesn't make any sense for our planet. (I do think the hole-ly jean style is cute when earned.)
For me it's 2% stretch max (elastane, polyester, spandex, basically anything listed in the material content that isn't cotton). Here are my jeans of choice:
(best jeans I've ever owned)
If you haven't been introduced to Everlane yet, allow me. They are my number one recommended brand for responsible clothing. I admire their transparency in pricing, production practices, and inclusive model imaging. Here is a glimpse of their denim page and it's just the tip of the iceberg for all the innovative things they are doing.
Levi Strauss was an actual person and responsible for the jean phenomenon in America. He didn't invent denim, but he popularized it. The company is massive, and they are moving the needle when it comes to responsible production and water conservation. If they make even a small change toward progress, our people and planet will feel it. They don't knock it out of the park, but seeing a company transparently seek progress is key. (I'd still steer clear of the acid wash/distressed/stretch/stonewashed jeans.) To learn more, checkout Levi's Social Responsibility page. They are a good example of what this section can look like for a mainstream company.
This is not a sponsored post by any means (ever). I am often asked this question, and it's nice to have a go-to jean so I hope this helps.