Jeans Redesign Project

Designing a More Circular Future

Jeff Hogue, Chief Sustainability Officer
Levi Strauss & Co.
July 21, 2021

When it comes to sustainability and innovation, Levi Strauss & Co. can rightfully claim a number of notable achievements, from Screened Chemistry to Water<Less® to cottonized hemp to our collaboration with re:newcell. These efforts all came out of our shop, driven by our people. They are points of pride that have helped set the direction for the company and demonstrated leadership in our industry.

But in some areas we can go further, faster, and at greater scale through considered collaboration with effective partners. That thinking was behind the decision to join Fashion for Good in April, and it’s at the core of our decision now to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) Jeans Redesign project. It adds up to a two-pronged strategy to achieve sustainable impact: drive new innovations from within, some of which will eventually be open-sourced for others to use, while also collaborating with others on the same journey to align with the industry and create economies of scale.

The Jeans Redesign project is an effort drive greater circularity in the denim world by providing guidelines brands and suppliers can follow to make jeans that can be used more, are designed to be made again and are made of safe, recycled and renewable inputs. As EMF writes, “The guidelines establish the minimum requirements for the durability, material health, recyclability and traceability of denim jeans, as set out with over 80 denim experts. By employing the principles of a circular economy, the Jeans Redesign ensures positive impacts for the environment, society, and the health of those people working in its industry.”

Brands that sign up commit to developing product aligned with these guidelines and increasing the volume of that product year over year. At a time when stakeholders are demanding to see more progress on sustainability – and we are demanding more of ourselves – we believe collaborations like the Jeans Redesign project will enable us and the industry as a whole to make greater progress, at greater scale, than any one brand can on their own.

Our partnership with EMF builds on work already done through our Wellthread® line, most recently on the aforementioned re:newcell collaboration, which we called “our most sustainable jean ever” last year and which was named a World Changing Idea by Fast Company this past May. This garment included a blend of organic cotton and recycled denim, employed the Screened Chemistry protocols that LS&Co. first developed, and was itself designed to be recycled utilizing existing technology.

That re:newcell product delivered on our commitment to circularity and demonstrated our ability to deliver pioneering innovation from within. We have another garment in the works that will meet the EMF standard, too. We can’t say what it is yet, but we will be talking about it later in the year – watch this space.

All of which is to say that our participation in the Jeans Redesign is an important collaborative step that complements efforts that have been underway in our offices for several years. And it stands as further evidence of our belief that partnerships like this one will enable us to build on, elevate and scale innovations already in the works while also learning from what others are doing in this space. It’s a formula we believe will help us drive the most impact and scale for our efforts and for the industry.

You can find the full report here.