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Jeans giant adopts new operating model


Levi Strauss (LS&Co.) says it is creating a cleaner jean. The iconic brand is pioneering a new operating model, called Project F.L.X. (future-led execution), which employs digital techniques to slash the ‘number of chemical formulations’ used in the traditional labour-intensive methods of making the jeans.

Replacing this previously ‘chemical-reliant process’ with laser technology, to finish the jeans, is in line with the company’s pledge to generate zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020.

“Thirty years ago, jeans were only available in three shades: rinsed, stonewashed and bleached. Today those three shades have exploded into endless variations, all produced with very labour-intensive jobs and long lists of chemical formulations,” explained Bart Sights, vice president of technical innovation at Levi Strauss & Co. and head of the company’s Eureka Innovation Lab. “We’re designing a cleaner jean for the planet and the people who make Levi’s® jeans, and we’re doing it on a scale that no one else has achieved to date.”

The Project is also expected to reduce waste by more accurately matching supply with demand. And the company believes it should lead to water savings, something it already has a strong record on, having shown it can us 100% recycled in the ‘final manufacturing stages’.

Robert Strand, executive director for the Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business, added: “This is a significant win for the industry. It’s inspiring to see how LS&Co. used constraints to drive innovation, paving the way for a more sustainable apparel industry. This is an important step forward that I hope others will follow.”

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