Slow Down, Fast Fashion

Levi Strauss & Co.
February 24, 2016

All signs point to a more conscious buyer in 2016. A recent survey commissioned by the British charity Barnardo’s, and featured in The Atlantic Magazine, says that a majority of women’s garments are worn only seven times before being banished to the back of the closet, or even thrown in the garbage. This wasteful trend has prompted some forward-thinking entrepreneurs to start companies with the goal of producing alternative, long-lasting clothing.
At LS&Co., we’re excited to see startups emerge that are focused on building a circular economy counter the disposable buying behaviors associated with fast fashion. According to The Atlantic, “These new, durability-focused companies say their success lies in providing a true antidote to fast-fashion: ultra-high-quality clothing, made sustainably, that people can afford.” What they’re describing is something we like to refer to as “slow fashion,” and that’s our sweet spot.
In 2014, our CEO Chip Bergh appeared on the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference stage and said, “I think Levi Strauss is the ultimate in slow fashion.” Well, we are happy to say that our consumers buck the trend for the average number of wears. In fact, according to our lifecycle assessment, an average pair of Levi’s® jeans is worn for a little more than three years before being donated or discarded.
Our clothes are built to last. If taken care of properly, a pair of Levi’s jeans can last for decades if not centuries (a pair of Levi’s®  jeans in our archives date back to the 1800s), which is not only good for your wallet, but also good for the environment. Our goal is to help put a dent in the 1,100 liters of water and 60 kilowatt-hours it takes the average American consumer to wash and dry a pair of jeans.
That’s why, in 2009, we partnered with Goodwill® to launch a partnership called “A Care Tag for Our Planet” to spread the word that small changes in the way we care for our clothes can help reduce our impact on climate change.
Today, Levi’s® and Dockers® products include care tags encouraging consumers to “Wash less, wash in cold, line dry, and donate when no longer needed.”
You can also bring your old clothes and shoes— Levi’s® or not—to any Levi’s® store in the U.S. we’ll collect them and reuse, repurpose, or recycle your donations with our partner I:CO. With your help, we can divert 24 billion pounds of clothing, shoes, and textiles from American landfills every year. Our ultimate goal is to create the infrastructure needed to transform old jeans into new ones and create entirely closed-loop products by 2020.
We’re thrilled to have so many allies on the road to a circular economy. To learn more about our sustainability initiatives, continue to follow us on Unzipped and on Twitter @LeviStraussCo.