We view fashion as a merging of art, innovation and sustainability. After all, Levi’s® jeans are what the next generation wears — and we take that role to heart. We like to say that our company and our products are Made of Progress, in part because we have a long history of firsts. Of leading. Of innovating. Of making a difference.
Innovation is embedded throughout our clothing, from our rivet patent in 1873 to the more recent development of the Water<Less™, Waste<Less™ and Wellthread collections.
Our lifecycle studies illustrate how essential water is to our business. We’re extremely dependent on it: every step of the process to create a garment requires water, from the cotton fields to manufacturing facilities.
In an era of increasing water scarcity, we recognize that water is an essential raw material for agriculture and many industries besides apparel. We must decouple the growth of our business and our water needs if we want to continue leading into the future.
The Water<Less™ process approaches the decisions made in the design process in a different way, reducing the amount of water used in the finishing process. It’s not rocket science, but it is innovative. For instance, by simply removing water from stone washes or combining multiple wet cycle processes, we can significantly reduce water usage — up to 96 percent for some styles. At the same time, we still deliver the same great look and feel that you know and love.
Since launching the Water<Less™ process in 2011, we have saved more than 1 billion liters of water in the manufacturing of LS&Co. products, including 30 million liters of fresh water saved through reuse and recycling. By 2020, the Levi’s brand aims to make 80 percent of its products using Water<Less™ techniques, up from nearly 25 percent today.
Levi’s® Waste‹Less™ Collection
Water is just one example of the resource constraints we are facing across the planet. Looking into the future, there’s no guarantee that there will enough land available to meet global demand for cotton, the main input for our apparel.
So to be a successful company in a world that is increasingly resource-constrained, we need to continue down the road toward achieving closed-loop apparel — while incorporating other alternatives to virgin raw materials.
This is why we launched the Levi’s® Waste<Less™ collection of products that are made of 20 percent post-consumer waste- specifically, recycled plastic bottles. That works out to an average of three to eight plastic bottles per pair.
To date (since the collection launched in Spring 2013), we’ve used 11.9 million recycled bottles for products such as Levi’s® 511™ Skinny jeans, Levi’s® Trucker jackets and the women’s Levi’s® Boyfriend Skinny jeans.
Recognizing that true innovation is best achieved by rethinking the entire apparel making process, we are breaking down the silos of design, sourcing and production to develop more sustainable practices. Our collaborative approach to sustainable design has produced a number of important breakthroughs for our enduring brands.
Our recent innovation, Dockers® Wellthread, represents a fundamental reinvention of the design process to incorporate sustainability into every stage of the development process. The end results are durable products with timeless, enduring style that are more responsible for both the people who wear them and the planet.
The Dockers® Wellthread collection uses specialized garment-dyeing processes that reduce water and energy use compared to conventional processes. Plus, the apparel is dyed in the factory, not in the mill. This practice allows for greater inventory agility because the fabric is dyed-to-order. Also integral to the Wellthread approach is the creation of products from a single fiber-cotton. From the fabrics to the buttons and thread, Wellthread products were designed with a future state of closed loop recycling in mind.
The collection is produced in factories where we’re implementing a new approach to improving the lives of apparel workers. In this Worker Well-Being program, we’re developing programs tailored to the needs of each workforce. The Dockers® Wellthread khakis are made exclusively at our Worker Well-Being site in Bangladesh.
Dockers® Wellthread proved to be an ideal platform for testing new innovations in sustainability. Moving forward we will apply the invaluable lessons learned from the Wellthread collection across all our product categories. Read our Wellthread blog post to learn more.