is Levi’s a sustainable brand?

This article discusses whether Levi’s, a big name in denim fashion, is a sustainable brand. Furthermore, we also discuss the various aspects of Levi’s that make it sustainable.

Is Levi’s a sustainable brand?

In a short answer, yes, Levi’s is a sustainable brand. Most of their clothing line deals with denim that is durable and can last for a long time.

An average pair of Levi’s jeans can last up to 3 years, provided that it is cared for in a proper manner. Not only does this make Levi’s a sound investment, but also a brand which doesn’t bear much toll on the environment.

What makes Levi’s a sustainable brand?

Levi’s has been synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll, counterculture, and carefree flair for almost fifty years. The fact that its denim continues to trade high in the currency of cool is proof of its ongoing brand strength.

Is this well-known brand, however, doing anything to ensure that its jeans are not only fashionable, but also ethical and sustainable? Is Levi’s an ethical company?

With parent business Levi Strauss & Co. reporting revenue of $5.8 billion USD in 2019, it doesn’t take much imagination to visualise the massive, worldwide production machine driving these tremendous earnings. 

Large-scale manufacturing is destined to have far-reaching implications. The Terms of Engagement – a Code of Conduct developed by Levi’s in 1991 to guide ethical production throughout the denim giant’s supply chain. 

The paper, according to Levi’s, was a watershed moment in the fashion business, inspiring many other apparel firms to follow suit.

So, does it work? Let’s discuss the principles followed by Levi’s in the following aspects:

  • Environmental Impact
  • Labour conditions
  • Animal welfare
  • Sourcing cotton
  • Encouragement to “buy less”
  • High quality and durable garments

Environmental impact

According to a study commissioned by Levi’s, the consumer care phase of one of the company’s main products— Levi’s® 501® Medium Stonewash jeans—accounted for 37% of climate impact and 23% of water use.

This has prompted Levi’s to issue a call to action, encouraging buyers to view Levi’s jeans as a long-term investment rather than a fast-fashion purchase. So, how has this concept affected the company’s practises?

Levi’s has made major promises to environmentally friendly denim manufacture, including a significant reduction in water consumption.

By 2020, Levi’s wants to use recycled materials in 80 percent of its goods. So far, it appears to be on course to accomplish these goals.

In their 2012 report, ‘Toxic Threads,’ Greenpeace highlighted and shamed Levi’s for its ties to dangerous water pollution in Mexico. 

Since then, Levi’s has vowed to eliminate the toxic chemicals used to dye and treat its apparel, with the goal of eliminating them entirely by 2020. 

Due to these factors, Good On You has granted Levi’s a ‘Good’ environmental grade as a result of all of this effort.

Labour welfare

For labour, Levi’s rates ‘Not Good Enough.’ Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index gave it a mid-range score of 41-50 percent since it traces the majority of its supply chain, including all of the final stages of production.

Despite this encouraging start, there remains one aspect of Levi’s supply chain that has to be addressed.

Almost none of Levi’s supply chain is certified by labour standards that safeguard worker health and safety, and the company has made little headway in ensuring that its workers are paid a livable wage across the board. 

Given its enormous earnings, we believe the company should be doing a lot better in this area.

Animal welfare

Levi’s treatment of animals is ‘Not Good Enough.’ It does not contain any fur, angora, or exotic animal skin or hair. 

Its current Animal Welfare Policy mandates that all animal product supply chains be traceable where possible in order to ensure humane procedures. 

Despite this, it continues to utilise leather, down feathers, and wool without specifying where they came from. 

It does, however, promote wool from non-mulesed sheep and says it will try to “consolidate its wool sourcing accordingly, when it becomes commercially viable.”

Sourcing cotton

Despite the fact that they do not cultivate cotton, the corporation claims to be extremely concerned about the communities and surroundings where it is grown.

To foster healthy cotton systems, they want to use only sustainably produced cotton by 2025. That’s a bold statement, but they admit their flaws and the fact that they have a long way to go before accomplishing their objectives.

75 percent of their cotton came from more sustainable sources by the end of 2020, such as the Better Cotton Initiative, organic cotton farms, or recycled cotton providers. 

They intend to achieve 100 percent soon while diversifying their sources, as previously stated.

Levi’s has joined the United States Cotton Trust Protocol in 2021, which will help with water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, soil carbon, soil loss, and land-use efficiency. 

Textile Genesis will also participate in the Protocol Credit Management System trial, which will employ Textile Genesis’ blockchain technology to provide supply chain transparency to members.

Encouragement to “buy less”

Levi’s stresses this theme in its spring 2021 advertising campaign, “Buy Better, Wear Longer,” by emphasising how garment manufacturing and consumption have a mutually harmful influence on the environment. 

Six young activists and influencers are featured in the multi platform campaign, which emphasises Levi’s commitment to producing long-lasting clothing.

But, how is the above-mentioned campaign feasible? The main goal is to create income streams that aren’t reliant on the selling of new things.

Several environmental organisations, such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, have long advocated for this. In a circular economy, businesses would repair, resell, and recycle items rather than extracting raw materials to create new ones.

Levi’s is already transitioning to a more circular business model. In 2015, the company launched Tailor Shops, where customers may modify and repair products. 

In October 2020, Levi’s Secondhand, a resale platform where consumers can buy and sell used jeans, was launched.

High quality and durable garments

“I think Levi Strauss is the ultimate in slow fashion,” said Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference in 2014. That may be partially accurate, as we all know.

As stated earlier, the average pair of Levi’s jeans is worn for less than three years before being donated or discarded, according to their research.

The denim clothing from Levi’s is built to last. If properly cared for, a pair of Levi’s jeans can last for decades, if not centuries (one pair in their archives dates back to the 1800s), which is not only good for your wallet but also good for the environment.

These pants are superior in quality to other high-street jeans that are available in the market, thanks in part to the higher degree of cotton content and the fabric’s thickness. 

As a result, a pair of Levi’s will last longer, requiring less frequent replacement and so saving you money.

Consumers’ role in making Levi’s a sustainable brand

As we’ve seen from above, Levi’s corporation has taken many great steps in order to ensure that their practises in all aspects are as sustainable as possible.

However, we as consumers also play a vital role in order to ensure that their products stay sustainable as long as possible in the end-stage process as well.

It’s encouraging to see adjustments at Levi’s, but it won’t be enough to bring about fundamental reform in the business. Despite the progress made thus far, much more has to be done.

The environmental impact of a garment does not cease once it is manufactured and purchased. Depending on how jeans are cleaned and disposed of, their total water consumption and climate impact might be as high as 40%. 

The bad news is this: Every year, around 20 billion articles of clothing end up in landfills, with more than half of them being burned or buried within a year.

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to reduce the impact of your apparel. By wearing your clothes for an extra nine months, you can reduce your carbon, waste, and water footprint by up to 30%.

Washing old clothes less frequently and having them patched, reinforced, or totally reconditioned is a simple way to breathe fresh life into them.

All of the above may be performed with relative ease, especially when it comes to a product like a pair of Levi’s jeans, which can last for many years without becoming antiquated due to their classic style.

Conclusion

We discussed in this article whether Levi’s is a sustainable brand. Although major steps have been taken by the corporation itself, their is still a lot of work left to do.

However, certain aspects, such as the environmental impact, the way they source cotton for making their products, encouragement for the consumers to “buy less”, and producing high quality and durable garments that last for years are some important steps taken by the Levi’s Strauss and Co. for making Levi’s a sustainable brand.

Lastly, it is a consumer’s role to ensure that they utilise their Levi’s products in the most judicious way, in order to reduce the carbon footprint, as well as preventing the clothing articles from ending up in a landfill.

FAQs

Is Levi fast fashion?

No, Levi’s is not a fast fashion brand, unlike some other major fashion outlets. The company recognises that the cost of rapid fashion is too high, both in terms of monetary investment and environmental impact.

They regard design processes and business models as opportunities to promote sustainability throughout the lifecycle of their products in order to break free from this waste cycle. 

That involves producing long-lasting styles that are both stylish and well-made. It entails only devoting time, effort, and resources to styles that we believe will stand the test of time and trends.

It entails planning ahead of time for how they may drastically reduce their reliance on natural resources while increasing their reliance on alternate materials. It also entails creating products that are totally circular and, eventually, a closed-loop economy.

Does Levi’s use child labour?

No, Levi’s does not use child labour. Levi’s code of conduct, according to the Human Rights Library at the University of Minnesota, prohibits child labour.

In addition, because of its clear link to government-approved child labour, Levi Strauss & Co. was the first U.S. garment brand to prohibit the use of Uzbek cotton in its supply chain.

Because of the seriousness of the problem of child trafficking in Bangladesh, Levi Strauss & Co. now requires job applicants to present verification of their working age in the form of school certificates, according to this case study.

References

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