Cleaning up the gear industry has become a popular mission these days. Patagonia is telling us to patch up our gear or buy used. Icebreaker can tell you exactly which farm their merino shirt came from. Hawaii has banned sunscreen chemicals that harm ocean reefs.
Outside the outdoor industry though, companies have been slow to adopt new processes. Producing clothing can take thousands of liters of water from start to finish. Dyes leak into rivers harming wildlife and people. Workers are overworked and underpaid.
Levi’s and Outerknown are changing that.
Levi’s, one of the biggest producers of denim in the world, launched their Wellthread line in 2015 to start cleaning up the process for making their most popular products: jeans. Every season they tackle a new aspect of the process from dyeing to sourcing cotton to building longer lasting products, all while keeping an eye on the prize: a more sustainable denim.
This mission led Paul Dillinger (Levi’s Vice President and Head of Global Product Innovation and Premium Collection Design) to Outerknown, a premium surf-clothing company founded by pro-surfer Kelly Slater and designer John Moore. Wellthread and Outerknown both focus on sustainability, building longer lasting products and reducing the environmental footprint of our favorite pants and shirts. Levi’s ‘Waterless’ dying process used in the Wellthread products reduces the amount of water required by up to 70 percent.
But it’s not just about using less water. The collaboration with Outerknown also jump-started relationships with companies like Oceanworks, who produces buttons for the line with 100 percent recycled plastic pulled from the ocean.
Each of the products are also built with the end in mind. Plastic buttons on the Western shirt are easier to recycle than metal snaps. Pockets and linings are easier to remove. Linen is used where possible because it can be recycled together with cotton, whereas polyester can’t.
Outerknown co-founder John Moore said “when we launched Outerknown, Kelly Slater said in one of our first interviews that Outerknown wouldn’t do denim because it’s such a dirty business. I looked over, and he was wearing a pair of jeans and I was wearing my favorite Levi’s trucker jacket.”
Now they can feel less guilty wearing their favorite jeans and help clean up the industry all at the same time.
Check out our favorites from the Levi’s Wellthread X Outerknown Fall 2018 Collection and see what all the fuss is about.
This classic trucker has been updated for the environment with recycled, post-industrial ReFibra Tencel and removable hardware, pocketing, and labels.
The blanket lining of this shirt jacket is sewn from post-consumer recycled denim and the shell is made from a recyclable cotton/linen blend, making this bad boy as recyclable as paper.
Supima denim creates one of the most durable cotton fabrics that Levi’s Wellthread and Outerknown have ever made. The brand’s ‘Waterless’ dying process uses 70% less water to create these cool and collected jeans.
The blue color of this pocket tee is made from recycled blue jeans and the white comes straight from post-industrial cotton.
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