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Organic Denim for the Sustainable Fashionista
Micki Krimmel, 11 Dec 06
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Tierra Del Forte is a fashion designer working out of a small community office space in Berkeley, CA. She and her single (brand new) employee sit amongst piles of paper, press clippings and design materials debating the shape of a pocket on a new style of jeans to go into production for the next season of Del Forte Denim. “I’ve had a lot of experience fitting jeans,? Tierra says, “and if you know what you’re looking for, that part’s pretty easy – with enough trial and error, you learn where to add half an inch and where to take it away.?

Del Forte Denim is Tierra’s line of luxury denim made from 100% organic cotton entirely in the US. The jeans are extremely well-made and expertly fitted. Tierra created her line for people like her and her friends, “real women who care about style but are not slaves to what’s on the runway.? Del Forte denim is a part of a growing trend that interprets luxury as a combination of distinctive design and ethical production.

After six years in the fashion industry, Tierra Del Forte decided that she had seen enough of the exploitative clothing business and created her own company to help change it. “Once you do a tiny bit of research, you see right away how destructive conventional cotton agriculture is, “ Tierra says. “Organic cotton is grown without chemical input, on land that’s been free of chemical pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers for at least three years. They use biological pest control and rotation crops in order to keep the insect population down and the yields up. It’s tremendously better for the environment and also for the people who work on the farms. And when I first started out, it happened to be great timing because some mills were starting to get into organic cotton denim, making my company possible.?

A year and a half into her journey, Tierra’s business is growing quickly. Del Forte apparel is currently available in 40 stores and will be in over 50 stores worldwide in early 2007. Tierra attributes much of her success to the supportive green business community. “I go to as many green events as possible and make an effort to contribute my time and skills to the community as a whole. Even thought Del Forte is a very small company, we’ve got a big community supporting us and that community has really made this possible.?

Del Forte Denim has partnered with the Sustainable Cotton Project as part of the DFD Outreach Program. The goal of the DFD Outreach Program is to help grow the sustainable farming movement through education and support for organic farmers.

In the fall of 2006, The DFD Outreach Program co-sponsored The Cotton Tour, a day of visiting sustainable and organic farms, education and networking organized by Sustainable Cotton and CAFF. To learn more about these exciting and informative programs, please visit and To learn more about the Sustainable Cotton Project or if you would like to get involved yourself, please contact Andrea Schell by emailing

And if you’re in San Francisco today (Tuesday, Dec, 12), Del Forte Denim will be featured on the runway at Global Green’s Gorgeous and Green fashion show and fundraiser party. Proceeds from the event will support Global Green USA and its efforts to rebuild a sustainable New Orleans and advance green affordable housing, solar and high performance schools in San Francisco, Los Angeles and cities across the country.

Next up for Del Forte Denim is the launch of Project Rejeaneration in January. Whenever you’re ready to give up your Del Forte jeans, just send them back (in the bag they came in) and they’ll be recycled into a new piece of clothing. As a reward for recycling, you’ll get 10% off your next Del Forte purchase (or you can donate your 10% to the Sustainable Cotton Project).

With all this going on, do you wonder if Tierra is ever tempted to cut ecological corners at Del Forte Denim to make her life a little easier?

“It’s really important to me personally to stay true to that ideal, and the corners I cut tend to be my own paycheck. I like having this company so much that the stuff I sort of used to use money to make myself happy for I don’t need anymore. I don’t need to buy new shoes anymore because that little bit of happiness I’m getting from something else.?

Niche design shops like Del Forte Denim play a vital role in making sustainable design cool so larger companies will follow suit. The power to encourage widespread change is in our wallets. And maybe we can even help Tierra buy a new pair of shoes.

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Del Forte jeans are so very soft - just running your hands over them, you can feel the difference between "traditional" denim and that made from organic cotton.

Posted by: Victoria E on 12 Dec 06

I have two pairs, and I love them. Tierra knows how to make my butt look good, or so my boyfriend thinks. Plus I get that warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that they're organic.

Posted by: Katie Spence on 12 Dec 06

I just got my first pair of Callas and I Looooove
them!! They fit way better than my 7's and my money
isn't going to some corporate pigs making poison jeans. Way to go Tierra!!!!!

Posted by: sarah on 30 Dec 06

Does anyone know where the best place to get
Del Forte jeans in NYC is? I know GOMI carries
them, but I was hoping to find a bigger selection
of washes and styles.
Maybe Barney's or SAKS will stock them soon?

Posted by: Jen Heinz on 30 Dec 06

Along with the other inquiries, does anyone know if they are available in Charlotte, NC? Probably not, our city planners are just beginning to think about bike lanes (by merely painting a line a making the other lanes narrower).

Posted by: reid on 30 Dec 06



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