MUD Jeans


The Netherlands

Design for Cyclability

This circular design strategy refers to the multiple uses and lives of a product and its materials.

The objective of this circular design strategy is to design products that are made to be used and made again, because any and all barriers to repair, reuse and recycling have been identified from the outset, and proactively designed out. 


To apply this design strategy, designers can; 

  • Ensure that products can be easily disassembled for refurbishment, re-manufacture or upcycling at their highest value, after the ‘first’ life of the product ends. 
  • Select materials that are highly recyclable, and in consideration of the feedstock specifications of current and emergent recycling technologies.
  • Construct mono-material products i.e. ensure all component parts – such as buttons, linings, facings and shells – are made from the same fibre type.
  • Reduce or eliminate all potential disruptors or contaminants to a recycler’s process e.g. decorative and/or functional trims and prints. 

Design for Cyclability

MUD Jeans

What circular challenge / opportunity is the case study trying to address?

Bert van Son founded MUD Jeans in 2012, after over 30 years’ of working in the traditional ‘linear’ fashion industry. Having experienced the damaging effects of this ‘take-make-use-waste’ model firsthand, he had a vision of another way of designing, producing and selling clothing. And he saw denim as the perfect test case for change, due to its iconic cultural meaning as well as its physical characteristics and related environmental impacts, including water and energy and chemical consumption. 

Today, the Dutch-based MUD Jeans has become an exemplary circular fashion brand, best known for their pioneering Lease a jean model, and for continually pushing boundaries and demonstrating circular economy principles in practice.

How does it work:

MUD Jeans are designed for both durability and cyclability. From a materials standpoint, MUD have intentionally limited their material mix to include 10 different fabrics, one button and one rivet. All denims are cellulosic – rich to enable high-value textile-to-textile recycling at end of life. There are two denim fabric compositions available; the rigid which is made with 40% post-consumer recycled cotton and 60% GOTS certified cotton, and the stretch which is made from 23% post-consumer recycled cotton, 2% elastane and 75% GOTS certified cotton. Elastane is deliberately kept to a maximum of 2%, so as to avoid contaminating the recycling process. Alterations have also been made to the construction, for ease of recycling; leather patches have been replaced with a non-toxic print, and rivets have been replaced with a bar stitch. 


While MUD Jeans can be bought in the traditional manner, they are renowned for their  Lease a Jeans model, which allows customers to lease a pair of jeans for 12 months for €9.95 per month. During the first 12 months of their lease or purchase, customers are given access to a free repair service. In 2020, 101 pairs of jeans were repaired. At the end of lease or at the end-of-use, customers are encouraged to send back their old jeans. Jeans are collected in store or via local postal services, using the circular packaging solution RePack. MUD accepts non-brand denims. Between 2016 and 2020, 27,500 jeans were collected through the MUD Jeans take-back programme. 


Returned jeans are inspected and sorted according to quality. Jeans that are still in good condition are washed and mended and sold as vintage. If the denim can no longer be reused, they are stockpiled until sufficient volumes have been collected, and then sent to mechanical recycling partner Recover, where they are prepared, shredded into fibres and blended with virgin organic cotton in order to make new yarns, before being woven into new fabrics, and made into new MUD products. 


Recently, MUD have been working to push the limits of circular denim, through The Road to 100 Project, in collaboration with Saxion University and Recover. The aim of the project is to produce a pair of jeans that is 100% made from post-consumer recycled cotton, thereby eliminating the need for virgin materials altogether and proving the potential of a fully closed loop system. The project began in 2019, completed the first pilot testing in 2020, and produced the first sample at the end of 2021.