Levi’s “WellThread High Loose Jeans” is a sustainable denim option, especially in considering the broader context of unsustainable practices in this area of clothing production. In addition, the company is working toward making all of their jeans as sustainable as the WellThread line, which shows that they are committed to evolving. The company also promotes “slow fashion,” encouraging customers to consider the necessity and practicality of their purchase, in addition to its longevity, before purchasing. That said, the company’s push toward more sustainable methods appears to have begun in 2011, which means that they have over a hundred years of pollution and production to still account for. Denim is one of the most unsustainable garments to produce because of the high water usage, and subsequent pollution. Additionally, many denim makers, Levi’s included, use synthetic materials in their jeans. Though Levi’s has now turned toward organic and recycled materials, their previous usage of synthetics means high waste emissions and plastic pollution. I would recommend that the consumer purchases jeans from the WellThread line, while keeping in mind the strides Levi’s must continue to make in order to champion themselves as the sustainable leaders of the denim industry. I would also encourage Levi’s to spread their sustainable methods, perhaps by publicizing their green initiatives so that other companies can follow suit. Ultimately, this company has a large platform and consumer base, and their efforts in sustainability must reflect their position.
The WellThread collection is made of 20% recycled denim, 20% sustainably sourced viscose and 60% organic cotton. Levi’s explains that this means “less water, less carbon dioxide and fewer chemicals for our planet,” as these materials promote resource and energy conservation. This particular style uses TENCEL™ Lyocell, which is a patented Levi’s material made from eucalyptus or spruce trees. This material is created with the Water<Less® technology, which is used in 60% of their products. In addition, the jeans are made with “cottonized hemp,” which is also characterized by water conservation. The company also works with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) to grow their cotton in a way that does not harm the environment through using less water and supporting the communities that grow the material. That said, currently only 15% of the company’s cotton comes from BCI, and the rest of the cotton is unaccounted for.
Levi’s has endeavored to use recycled denim in order to combat waste in the industry. Their documents regarding labor and supply chain were at the bottom of the home page, under the “Terms of Engagement” and the “California Compliance.” In these two documents, they detail their standards for product and material sourcing, as well as their high labor standards. Levi’s claims to train the higher management at a high standard so as to create better working conditions. If the company is holding their factories and workers up to the standards they have outlined, then they are ethically making their garments.
Levi’s is one of the leading denim producers worldwide. They created the original “blue jean” in 1873, and have since become a household name. Levi’s is known for their general good quality denim, and a high, but not unattainable price point. The brand has made a recent resurgence in the public eye with the new trend of vintage denim. Levi’s has capitalized on this, creating new denim that has a “vintage look,” and turning to older styles that are popular once again. In their WellThread line, they have taken today’s trendy silhouettes and created new pieces that are advertised as “Sustainable.” The company makes a conscious effort to promote the environmentally-conscious decisions they have made within production, but that said, it is advertised as a subcategory to their brand. This means that when a customer goes to the website, the normal, non-sustainable (or less sustainable) jeans are shown, and the sustainable collection must be sought out. I found this frustrating because it means that the average Levi’s consumer may not even realize that the jeans they are purchasing are not ethically made, or even realize that there is a sustainable option. That said, the word “Sustainability” appears in a side bar option, and when clicked, brings the viewer to readings on sustainability, or the clothing. Under clothing, you can select to view a variety of different styles based on their “sustainable” methods, but it could be confusing to an unfamiliar consumer to distinguish between methods. This may promote a passivity in the customer because an understanding of the sustainable methods used would only come from reading the articles on a different Levi’s website. This ultimately distances the consumer from understanding what is really ethical. Lastly, the methods of sustainable production are all patented, which discourages their widespread use. If Levi’s was truly committed to sustainability, they would endeavor to share their sustainable methods with other producers in order to combat the detriment of the denim industry worldwide.