Denim available in Levi’s new Cottonised Hemp fabrication. Images supplied.
Levi’s have introduced some exciting new denim innovations this month which continue the brand’s commitment to finding sustainable ways to create denim. First up, are new styles in the brand’s innovative Cottonised Hemp fabric which is made from a hemp yarn that’s been treated to have the look and feel of cotton without using as much water as traditional denim requires. Hemp also requires less chemicals and land to grow than cotton making Levi’s Cottonised Hemp jeans a much more sustainable choice.
The Cottonised Hemp fabric features on brand new fits including the High Loose for women which is inspired by the ’70s revival—with a hint of the ’00s—taking the best of the Baggy, Dad and Ribcage fits and merging them into Levi’s highest rise yet, fitted at the waist, and loose on the body. For men, there’s the new Stay Loose fit which is influenced by ’90s nostalgia—a fuller fit, wider leg, a little taper—while still capturing the contemporary style of loose cuts. The High Loose and Stay Loose ranges are available in Cottonised Hemp which includes not just the jeans but a Trucker Jacket and women’s utility shirts too.
In a further step towards sustainability and circularity, Levi’s Wellthread jeans are made with organic cotton and Circulose, a breakthrough material made from worn-out jeans. The new jeans are available in the 502 for men and High Loose for women and represent more than five years of research in circular denim design.
Levi’s Wellthread (the Levi’s research and development lab) has collaborated with re:newcell to bring denim full-circle. To make Circulose, re:newcell repurposes discarded cotton textiles, such as worn denim, and breaks these down with water. Colour is stripped and synthetic fibres are removed from the mix, leaving a slurry-like mixture which is then dried into a sheet. The sheet is then made into a new fibre which is then combined with organic cotton to be woven into a new fabric — Levi’s Wellthread Recycled Denim — that can be recycled again and again. That marks a significant milestone in the fashion industry’s transition to circularity and it’s like-for-like fibre input means the garment can also be recycled through existing chemical recycling processes.
“Bringing fashion full circle, denim-to-denim, together with a brand as iconic as Levi’s is a dream come true. To make fashion sustainable, it’s important to show people that a material like Circulose is a real alternative to virgin cotton both in performance and style. I can’t think of a better proof than putting truly circular Levi’s 502’s into stores worldwide,” says Patrik Lundström, CEO of re:newcell.
“We want to recycle Levi’s jeans in a way that doesn’t diminish their quality. By collaborating with re:newcell, our garment-to-garment recycling takes an important step forward,” says Una Murphy, Levi’s Senior Designer for Innovation. “Recycling keeps garments out of landfills and minimizes the use of natural resources. We’re transforming old jeans into high-quality materials, moving us beyond traditional cotton recycling, which shortens and breaks fibres. By using high quality fibre, Levi’s jeans last longer, and designing for circularity allows our old jeans to become new jeans, again and again.”
Each part of the jean – trims, thread, etc. – are carefully calibrated to ensure it meets recycling specifications, allowing it to have a second life when it’s worn out. Innovations like this are what will allow Levi’s, and the fashion industry, to reduce dependency on virgin materials. In an exciting development, Levi’s and re:newcell were able to successfully put a pair of the Wellthread jeans made with Circulose and organic cotton, sourced from Turkey, through re:newcell’s recovery system and come away with viable material output for future use, demonstrating that this garment is, in fact, fully recyclable and truly circular which is major news and an amazing step forward for circular fashion.
“This is a sustainability challenge that we’ve been wrestling with for years, so it’s really exciting to see an aspirational concept become a familiar pair of Levi’s jeans that consumers can actually buy and wear,” says Paul Dillinger, Levi’s VP of Global Product Innovation. “The fashion industry has long been chasing the potential of the ‘circular economy.’ The jeans we’ve made in collaboration with re:newcell proves that it can be done.”
Levi’s Wellthread Recycled Denim and Cottonised Hemp styles are available via levis.co.nz