Green Jeans: Levi’s Introduces Water-Conserving Denim Line

How green are your jeans? The sustainability-minded denim fiends at Levi’s are rolling out a new line of jeans that are made using significantly less water. While the average pair of jeans guzzles 11 gallons of water in the finishing process (wash. dry. repeat.), Levi’s new WaterLess collection reduces the water consumption by an average of 28%, with some new products cutting the H2O toll by as much as 96%. “We challenged ourselves to operate at the intersection of style and sustainability,” said Erik Joule, senior vice president of merchandising and design for Levi’s. “We’re excited about the results we’ve achieved so far, and we know we can make an even bigger impact by applying this innovative thinking to other aspects of our production process.”

So how they’d do it? A combination of obvious (washing the jeans less) and not so obvious (add ozone processing into the garment washing, figure out a way to stone wash without water) strategies. “Sometimes, the way to achieve a more sustainable design is to rethink a traditional process and find a way to do it better,” explains Carl Chiara, director of brand concepts and special projects at Levi’s. The first WaterLess products will hit stores in January and will include over a dozen classics (your 501s, 511s, 514s). Meanwhile, the spring 2011 product lines will contain more than 1.5 million pairs of jeans with the WaterLess method, saving more than 4 million gallons of water. As for those who favor Levi’s traditional rigid finish jeans, well, you’re the eco-friendliest of all: those use virtually no water in their production.