Levi Strauss | Don’t Wash Away the Blues


I have been following Levi Strauss. The clothing manufacturer has been shaking things up by telling consumers to wash their jeans… less. While most companies would want their products washed frequently (people walking around wearing your brand’s dirty jeans may be a turn off for people not yet converted to your brand, if jeans are washed frequently then they wear out sooner causing consumers to replace them sooner, etc.).  But CEO Charles Bergh said that a 2007 study that revealed the massive amount of water used to wash jeans convinced him to adopt water conservation as a cause the company should get behind.  He writes,

“The latest study showed that, on average, a single pair of 501 jeans consumes nearly 3,800 liters of water and produces 33 kg of carbon emissions throughout its lifetime.That data galvanized us and pushed us to rethink how we make our jeans – and how we could become part of the solution. It led to the creation of the Levi’s Water<Less process and implementation of the apparel industry’s first standard for 100% water recycling and reuse.”

I remember seeing an interview with Bergh a few years ago and was actually inspired by his personal commitment to this cause.  He went over a year without washing his jeans!  In fact, he knows how to make this work for the brand, claiming that washing jeans is not only bad for the environment, its bad for the jeans themselves.

Levi’s stance has caught on. Hiut Denim website suggests,

“Raw denim is best given a good six months before washing. The longer you can leave it, the better your jeans will look. The reason for this is that the indigo will have worn off in places where you make natural creases. Just by sitting down, putting your phone in and out of your pockets, your hands in your pockets. All these daily little things will make your jeans look great.”

Levi’s has taken a stand on a cause and weaves the issue close to home: its own brand. Other companies wanting to resonate with environmentally-conscious consumers would be wise to take note.

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