The global fashion industry is a $2.5 trillion sector, but it’s also the second largest polluter in the world, following closely behind the oil industry. From water pollution and consumption, to waste, chemicals and soil degradation; the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, energy wastage and rainforest destruction are wreaking havoc on our planet.
Why? Because consumers want affordable products. As such, companies need to produce garments that are affordable; and to get affordable products, companies more often than not have to make sacrifices.
It’s called ‘fast fashion’ and in the fashion world, it means cheaper materials, toxic textile dyes and worker exploitation.
While many brands are happy to continue working as they are, a small number of brands are working to break the status quo by bringing sustainable practices to the forefront of the way they do business, and providing a better tomorrow for future generations.
Over the past decade Levi’s has implemented numerous initiatives, developed programs and pioneered material product innovations. In 2011, the company started their Worker Wellbeing initiative, which aims to improve the lives of people who make their products, assisting with their health, financial security and gender equality.
In their effort to reduce their environmental footprint Levi’s has also committed to sourcing more environmentally-friendly materials and using less water.
Here are some of the ways Levi’s is changing the world of fast fashion.
Levi’s has been a pioneer in sourcing sustainable materials, continually innovating and looking for ways to produce the same product without the same reliance on cotton (which is traditionally very water intensive).
Something you’ll see a lot of this season (and beyond) is Cottonised Hemp. Levi’s is not the first brand to use hemp in their garments, however Levi’s has found a way to “cottonise” it, meaning the final product is just as soft as cotton.
Why hemp? It requires less water and land to grow, improves soil health, and needs fewer pesticides. You’ll also see the likes of Tencel and Ecovero in their products — both fibres produced from wood.
One of Levi’s biggest achievements is their Water<Less™ technology. First introduced in 2011, Water<less™ finishing techniques have helped them save more than 3.5 billion litres of water and recycle 5 billion more.
The Levi’s Wellthread range is their most sustainable collection, designed and modelled on four principles — materials, people, environment and process. The products in this range are made in Worker Wellbeing facilities from rain-fed Cottonised Hemp or recycled denim and finished using their Water<Less™ technologies.
Levi’s goal is to continue to develop innovative and sustainable design solutions and influence more responsible production practices across the industry.
The fashion industry is a competitive market, but with the world more focused on the environment than ever before, sustainable practices are guaranteed to place companies like Levi’s a step ahead.
The colourful history of Levi’s dates back to 1853, when Levi Strauss started a dry goods and clothing company in the US. Inventors of the blue jeans, Levi’s has grown worldwide and today, Levi’s fashion apparel is sold in more than 50,000 retail stores across 100 countries.