The Story of Denim: From Gold to Green
Almost everyone knows the famous story of Levi Strauss arriving in the Wild West, now known as California. When he saw miners on the gold rush working he gave them a pair of pants made from canvas. The durability of the canvas material was a huge hit for the workers in heavy physical labor jobs. The story soon ends with Strauss switching from canvas material to denim... and the classic American jean was born. The story seems simple. However, Levi Strauss does not claim full responsibility for the invention of denim, even though the US Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent number 139121 to Levi Strauss and Co. There is an open discussion if denim was originally created in France or England. However, the process was perfected in America. We may never know all the specifics of Levi’s story as company records and inventory was lost in the San Fransisco earthquake of 1906.
What we do know is that today your favorite pair of blue jeans are not made out of canvas such as Levi’s original myth and they are not made of silk and wool like the French’s original version of denim. So what are your favorite pair of denim pants made of? Believe it or not cotton. Yes! Denim is cotton woven into a strong twill! And the jean fabric is different from the denim textile. Jeans are made with two threads of the same color. Denim is made from one white thread and a thread of another color.
So how is a brand that is so rooted in the past also so rooted in the future? How is this brand that has been loved by so many past generations still so current? Levi’s has been able to stay grounded in their roots while still looking into the future of fashion. Levi’s sees that the consumer is becoming more aware and curious with how the supply chain impacts the environment and the community making the clothing.
Levi's partners with The Better Cotton Initiative, an organization that exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future. The organization works with farmers to take specific measurable actions to reduce the impact on the environment and communities. One clear example on the organization's website is banning pesticides listed in the Rotterdam Convention.
Water 42 liters is the amount of water used to make one pair of jeans. Not to mention the amount of water used to wash them and CO2 to dry them. Levi’s found a way to re-use water when making their jeans; a technique they call Water<Less which decreases water usage during production by 96%. This new process has saved over 1 billion liters of water during production with the hope of saving at least 50 billion liters by 2020. They have publicly shared this process as a way to inspire other denim companies to follow suit. Other Sustainable Denim Brands DL 1961
They believe that the denim production process can cut back on it's pollution
significantly and have set out to prove this. From responsibly sourced raw materials to partnering with some of the world’s most socially responsible vendors, every step in their supply chain is optimized to save a significant amount of water, energy and dye. Dyes that are natural pigments derived from plants, to boot.
Unlike typical manufacturers, their LEED-certified facility recycles 98% of its water, relies on alternative energy sources, and repurposes byproducts to create premium jeans—minus the waste. Solar panels throughout the facility further reduce their factory's impact on the environment.
Their jeans are made from deadstock and super sustainable fabrics and compared to the average pair of jeans, a Reformation pair saves 1,468 gallons of water by eliminating traditional
production techniques, such as the use of toxic dyes. The brand is also working to bring its water footprint to 0 for all its merchandise. They are launching The Wet Program which means for every pair of jeans you buy, Reformation will will donate 1,000 gallons of credits to the National Forest Foundation's clean water projects.
P.S. - If you are building your sustainable collection or just buying new clothes for fun, please consider going through the links in this blog post. It helps keep the website going, community supported, and the information free! Plus, it doesn't cost any extra. Win-win!