At the Nexus of Science and Fashion: My Levi’s® story

Levi Strauss & Co.
June 9, 2017

Editor’s Note: Angela Fusco, a London native, won a 10-week design internship at Levi’s® through the Levi’s® x ARTS THREAD Design Competition that she parlayed into a year-long position with the company. She leaves Levi Strauss & Co. with an experience of a lifetime, but took some time out to reflect on her unique journey:

Angela_thumbWhen emails announcing the Levi’s® competition kept popping up in my inbox, I kept ignoring them – because, hand on heart, I never thought I could win something like that!

When I was finally convinced to apply, I thought my project – incorporating carbon into denim for durability – was a little too “techie” for the brand. But actually, I think that’s what caught their eye; unbeknownst to me, the tech aspect of my project really connected to things they were already working on back here in San Francisco.

I took a week off work to finish the project, and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning trying to get it uploaded by the deadline. I never thought I would be selected. Even my mother didn’t think I was going to win! But I made it to the final round – and the rest, as they say, is history.

I am someone who believes in fate. I really believe that things happen for a reason. A few years ago, I inherited a treasure trove of old clothes from my uncle – including a pile of never-worn Levi’s® jeans. Now, of course, after everything that has happened for me here, that felt really meaningful.

Those jeans gave me insight into what jeans mean to someone, and how they carry a story. Even my uncle’s jeans, which were in pristine condition, said something about him – he was the kind of person that would buy something and put it in a closet and never wear it for decades! Different things will happen to a pair of jeans, how we wear them and how we care for them – they’re like a doorway to a personality.

My dream has always been to apply my love of fashion to everyday products, things that anyone and everyone can wear at any time – and nothing plays a bigger role in people’s everyday lives than denim. So this is a dream come true.

Onward and upward…

I’m excited about my studies for the next year, and the chance to really explore this link between science and fashion. But I’m equally thrilled about the prospect of possibly bringing that knowledge back here.

Like all apparel companies, Levi’s® is facing some big questions in the constant push to find better and more sustainable ways of doing what we do.

We’re always trying to better our chemistry. At least for now, chemicals are necessary for our finishing recipes, and we’re looking for the least harmful ways to use them. But down the line, what if we could eliminate the use of chemicals altogether?

For me, the intersection of fashion and science is in the materials. What is most fascinating to me is the notion of dissecting the fabric right down to the bare bones, and building it back up – analyzing each stepping block as you go, and hopefully making it better along the way. Maybe that’s finding better and more sustainable ways to produce the materials we need. Maybe it’s even searching out different materials altogether.

This experience has provided me with the most perfect foundation for what I love. I’ve never known a company to really care about what we put out into the world, and how we produce it. My time here has shown me that there’s a place for this kind of work. I hope that we can find ways to make the industry better … and help out our little old planet in the process.