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EXCLUSIVE: American Eagle Launches Sustainable Jeans Collection

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American Eagle jeans are getting a little bit greener.

The retailer is introducing AE x The Jeans Redesign, a limited-edition collection of sustainable denim that can withstand a minimum of 30 washes and is made with sustainable materials, such as 100 percent organic cotton and removable hardware for easy recycling.

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“Our denim is built to last across all categories,” Jennifer Foyle, American Eagle Outfitters’ chief creative officer and Aerie global brand president, told WWD. “But this specific one [collection] is made to last just a little bit longer.

Sustainability has been a priority for [AEO] and it’s a priority for the generation to come,” Foyle continued. “We really worked hard on taking this collection to the next level and potentially learning from it for our future Real Good products.”

She was referring to American Eagle’s “Real Good” label, or items made or sourced with sustainable materials, such as recycled polyester, nylon or organic cotton. Foyle said “nearly 100 percent” of AE jeans are made under the label.

The new Jeans Redesign collection, which launches today at ae.com, is not only made with organic cotton, but was produced without harmful chemicals or processes. It also follows the guidelines developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a British-based charity that promotes a circular economy, or one where clothes are made with a limited impact, meant to be recyclable and last longer.

“It just goes back to the durability, the recyclability, the material and the traceability,” Foyle said. “That’s what we had in mind specifically when we built this collection.”

In addition, the company, which also includes the Aerie, Offline by Aerie, Todd Snyder and Unsubscribed brands, continues to make progress on its sustainability goals, which include being carbon neutral by 2030.

“Of course we’re going to try to get there faster,” Foyle said. “It’s an important mission of ours.”

That’s why since 2017, the retailer has reduced the amount of water needed to make each pair of jeans by nearly seven gallons, saving a total of 4.5 billion gallons of water. It also used about 37 percent sustainably sourced cotton and nearly 70 million plastic bottles in recycled polyester in 2020, many of which were used in Aerie’s sustainable swimwear collection, which also launched last year.

“By taking measures to ensure more responsible product sourcing, we are working hard to help create a healthier environment for future generations,” said Jay Schottenstein, executive chairman and chief executive officer, of American Eagle Outfitters. “As part of AEO’s broader sustainability goals we’ve made a commitment to move toward more sustainable raw materials and manufacturing techniques, as well as reducing our water and energy usage. Our adoption of the guidelines set by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for the AE x The Jeans Redesign collection represents AEO’s ongoing journey and pledge to accelerate improvements across our operations through innovation and collaboration.”

The AE x The Jeans Redesign includes four silhouettes, two for mom jean fits for women and two slim jean styles for men. Each pair is priced at $59.95 and comes in sizes 000 to 20 for women, and from 28 waist by 28 inseam to 42 waist by 32 inseam for men.

With the success of things like Aerie’s sustainable swimwear collection, Foyle said the company plans to expand its sustainability efforts into other categories in the future, using the findings from both the swim and jeans collections to inform future product offerings.

“We’re thinking ahead and trying to make more of our product [under the] Real Good [label],” she said. “There’s more to come here and the work being done for our future, the future being leaning toward all of our product being mostly green.

“The customer comes to us for denim and jeans. They love it when they know a garment is sustainable,” Foyle continued. “So I think we owe it to our customer to show up in the best possible way. It’s important for us to continue to delight our customers with new product and innovation. And certainly sustainability is an attribute that we’re going to keep in the forefront of everything we do when it comes to jeans, because it is so important to our customer.”