Last month Levi's announced new Waterless jeans in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing their products. During the production process a typical pair of jeans is “finished” in large washing machines and dryers at least 3-10 times to achieve some of the signature "broken in" denim looks the company provides. Levi's combined multiple wet washing processes into a single process to cut down on water usage and removed the water from their signature stone wash jean without compromising the visual appeal. "We took the idea of jeans that use fashion-forward finishes that people love to wear--the worn in look, creases around the pockets--but made with a lot less water," explains Kelly Benander, Director of Corporate Communications for Levi Strauss. In addition to controlling their water usage at the production level the company's changes will also save their suppliers money by reducing energy usage. Approx. 1.6 million pairs of WaterLess jeans will be produced for Spring 2011. In October of this year Levi Strauss announced that they were eliminating the sandblasted products from their line due to health concerns for the workers involved in the process (see image below).
Levi's has always been a leader in the arena of corporate social responsibility. In 1991 they incorporated a series of environmental provisions into their global sourcing guidelines and in 1995 added strict guidelines for water quality. Next year the company plans to unveil a "Better Cotton Initiative" program that addresses the environmental impacts of growing and processing cotton for denim.