New Levi’s® Wellthread™ x Outerknown Features Groundbreaking Cottonized Hemp

Levi Strauss & Co.
March 11, 2019

The newest Levi’s® Wellthread™ x Outerknown Spring/Summer collection features the company’s first foray into the use of a new form of “cottonized hemp” denim – hemp that’s been altered to feel just like cotton.

The collection is emblematic of the company’s continued commitment to innovation and sustainability while still delivering on the incredible quality expected from the Levi’s® brand. Outerknown, the sustainable clothing company founded by Pro Surfer Kelly Slater, is also the perfect partner given its own dogged commitment to sustainable design and materials.

“We know hemp is good for the environment, but it has always felt coarse,” says Paul Dillinger, VP of Product Innovation at Levi’s®. “This is the first time we’ve been able to offer consumers a cottonized hemp product that feels just as good, if not better, than cotton.”

The hemp went through a process developed by fiber technology specialists that softened the material, giving it a look and feel that is almost indistinguishable from cotton. It marks an important sustainable step as the environmental benefits of hemp have long been known – it requires far less water and land in the growing phase and has a smaller footprint than conventionally known cotton.

Sustainable fashion

The new collection includes an array of products that were conceptualized with sustainability in mind from the very first sketch. A pair of jeans and a trucker jacket are made with a 70/30 cotton-to-cottonized hemp blend. The hemp was sourced from a rain-fed hemp crop and thereby reduced the water used in fiber cultivation by roughly 30 percent.

The board shorts are made of single-fiber, fully recyclable nylon, and all of its materials – the eyelets, the core, the stitching – are made from nylon, meaning it can theoretically be recycled in perpetuity and re-made into other nylon garments, thus achieving the closed-loop recyclability that has long eluded apparel companies.

The collection also includes a T-shirt made from recycled jeans and a western shirt made with a cotton/hemp blend. All garments in the collection were crafted in facilities that offer Levi Strauss & Co.’s Worker Well-being program, which offers workers health and planning advice, along with financial education programs.

Transforming the industry

This Levi’s® Wellthread™ x Outerknown collection is a distillation of the multi-pronged approach necessary to transform fashion. It is also the latest in a series of innovations and partnerships that have firmly established Levi Strauss & Co. as an innovation hub for sustainable design.

These include the introduction of Project F.L.X., the growing adoption of our open-source Water<Less® technology and Screened Chemistry programs, and our industry-leading commitment to Science Based Targets for carbon footprint reduction across our facilities and our supply chain.

Together, these breakthroughs demonstrate our ability to achieve meaningful sustainable progress in the field, for designers, collaborators, and consumers alike.

Look for more of this groundbreaking treatment and use of hemp in the Fall Levi’s® Wellthread™ x Outerknown collaboration and other Levi’s® garments in the near future.