Levi’s Celebrates 150 Years with Sustainable Innovations

To mark the 150th anniversary of its Levi’s 501 jeans, the Levi’s brand is featuring a suite of new sustainable products, a Plant-Based 501, a hemp-cotton blend Selvedge 501, and a Circular 501.

These jeans are an evolution in the company’s design innovation practice and establish a new foundation on which to build going forward.

They’re also an indication of what the industry could look like in the years ahead, given the push to minimise synthetic materials derived from fossil fuels and the need to make more garments with renewable inputs rather than finite resources.

The Plant-Based 501 jean is made of at least 97% plant-based materials, with all certified organic cotton, natural dyestuff, a plant-based patch, and ink made from wood waste.

Building on its efforts with “cottonised” hemp over the years through its Wellthread line, the Levi’s brand is also releasing a hemp-cotton blend Selvedge 501. These jeans marry the premium selvedge fabric with alternative fiber innovation.

Additionally, the brand is highlighting the Circular 501, made with a mix of organic cotton and Renewcell’s pioneering Circulose fiber, viscose made in part from recycled denim and other forms of textile waste.

By replacing parts of the garment that would normally be made from synthetic fibers — like polyester pocketing, threads, labels, and interfacing — with 100% cotton alternatives, Levi’s says it has removed synthetic elements that would otherwise disrupt the cotton recovery process.

The result is a new jean made with old jeans that is itself designed to be recyclable, with the potential to be remade into new jeans, again and again.

“In our ongoing research and development, we strive to improve our design practices and conserve environmental resources every way we can,” said Una Murphy, Levi’s director of design innovation. “By incorporating sustainable innovation, in mainline and premium products alike, we learn what’s possible and how we can continue working toward solving some of our biggest challenges.”