By 2025, Levi Strauss plans to manufacture all its products from recycled cotton. It would be the first company to do so. So it will stop using cotton sourced from cotton fields to make its famous 501s, relying instead on old clothes from people’s closets. Currently, a fifth of all the cotton Levi’s uses comes from recycled sources, with the rest coming from virgin cotton. To raise that ratio to 100 per cent recycled material will depend on innovations in science.
Levi Strauss runs a program in five major markets - Japan, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany - that gives customers a 15 per cent discount on a new Levi’s item if they donate any old clothes (they don’t have to be Levi’s) to be recycled. Sustainability has long been a point of difference for the brand. It was not only the first apparel company, but the first multinational to introduce a labor code of conduct in 1991, to ensure that the workplace standards and business practices of its suppliers lived up to its own.
The supply chain has been the focus of Levi’s sustainability efforts, and the company also aims to expand its water-less program, so that 40 per cent of its products are made using less water by 2020.