Alliance for Responsible Denim (ARD)
Description/achievement of initiative

The Alliance for Responsible Denim is an open-innovation platform that brings international denim brands together to collectively take steps towards improving the ecological sustainability impact of denim production. Improvements are focused on developing better denim production practices, including the adoption of post-consumer recycled denim and reduced chemical and water usage in denim finishing. Our first steps include establishing measurements, benchmarks and standards for resource use (e.g. chemicals, water, energy) and increasing demand for recycled denim content.

Implementation methodologies

The neutral position of ARD establishes a safe environment for knowledge sharing and safeguards the private interests of the members and the collective interests of the group. ARD project management aggregates and anonymizes information so that members (which include competitors) can safely work together. ARD uses design thinking principles emphasizing the learning loop, the iteration of trial and error and the sharing of prototyping and testing experiences. This has two effects: members feel they are not alone in their challenges, and they are pushed by peer pressure and support to set short-term goals as well as aspirational goals. Themes and areas of focus are established by the needs and wants of ARD members. Relevant stakeholders and experts are sourced and selected to provide additional expertise and knowledge and contribute to creating action plans. Progress is monitored by the ARD partners.

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

Coordination mechanisms/governance structure

The Alliance for Responsible Denim consists of 51 members (1 university, 2 NGOs, 15 large and small brands/retailers, 15 denim mills/spinners, 4 chemical and equipment manufacturers, 16 affiliated industry stakeholders). ARD leverages the collective power of denim value chain partners to push the use of new technologies, to create economies of scale due to higher volumes, to investigate and test new or alternative business models, materials, methods, chemicals, and to pull each member up to a higher level of sustainability and circularity. The coordination of the Alliance for Responsible Denim network is managed by the partners (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Circle Economy and Made-By). ARD members hold quarterly plenaries to establish collective goals, decide on working activities and share learnings. Decision making is consensus based. Circle Economy and Made-By provide facilitation and project management of the working groups. There is extensive one-to-one follow up and guidance to keep members engaged and delivering on assigned tasks. ARD focuses on practical execution and implementation of change. As such, ARD members are required to have cross-disciplinary teams including their CSR managers, designers, developers, technical experts, and chemical experts. ARD is a voluntary organization and welcomes new members but follows a strict on-boarding policy to screen potential new members for their commitment and added value and to safeguard cooperation among existing members.


Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Circle Economy and Made-By
Progress reports
Goal 6
Goal 9
Goal 12
Goal 17
May 2017
Wash Recipe Questionnaire for Suppliers
October 2018
PCRD Adoption Guide for designers and buyers
October 2018
Best practices guide to collaborating with competitors
October 2018
Experiential exposition on sustainability & circularity in the denim value chain
Financing (in USD)
370,146 USD
Other, please specify
Dutch government grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), Task force for Applied Research (SIA RAAK MKB)
In-kind contribution
In-kind hours from ARD brand members.

Basic information
Time-frame: August 2016 - September 2018
Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Circle Economy and Made-By
Contact information
Lori Divito, Professor and Chair Collaborative Innovation and Entrepreneurship, l.e.d.divito@hva.nl
United Nations