Nudie Jeans & Living Wages

I met with Sandya Lang, Chief Sustainability Officer of Nudie Jeans to understand their pioneering work in promoting living wages for workers in their supply chains, for my research project ‘Creating a Regenerative Textile and Fashion Industry for a Just Transition’. Sandya kindly allowed me to record this inspiring interview to share with the wider fashion industry.

Brands and Retailers often argue that if they are responsible for only a small percent of the production at a particular supplier, they cannot do much towards paying a living wage. They don’t have leverage. Sandya explains how even with Nudie responsible for only 3%, the supplier took the living wage initiative on with their commitment, and other brands joined, resulting in 15% of production being covered. Workers at the unit benefitted by one-month extra pay per year, helping them to educate their family members, send money home to cover their living expenses and create some savings.

Sandya explains the company made this decision as the company is privately owned and the owners are aligned on this. Nudie has subsequently mapped their whole supply chain and hopes to be paying living wages by 2026/7. The local situation and a local approach are key for benchmarking and local management buy-in. Each situation is different and meaningful change takes time.

The Fair Price App, run by Fair Wear Foundation, where Nudie has been a pioneering member, is very useful in calculating living wage. Sandya explains that the process of Living wage needs to move from the Sustainability team into the product development team and the product design and production process to be effective and offer long-term brand commitment.

Nudie has launched Regenerative Organic cotton certification with Indian small-scale cotton farmers, through Chetna Organics. Sandya explains that whilst most of these traditional practices of good practice for farmers, soil and animals have been practised by them, (ie: drip irrigation and rainfed farming, intercropping, natural pesticide use, etc), farmers are working more holistically, and “the certification will prove that they are working in a way that is not just about less harm but promoting regeneration”. We need more of this good stuff in the climate, ecological and social emergency.

It was a great opportunity to hear directly from Nudie and Sandya. Thank you for letting us share your work with the wider community.