What are Levi's Water<Less Jeans?
Water is essential to denim. It is used from growing and harvesting the cotton to make the denim (which is to note, a very thirsty crop) through to the dyeing and finishing process, making it an incredibly water-intense trip to your wardrobe. Any “finished” denim, which includes denim bearing various washes, distressing and dying patterns (so, anything besides “raw,” stiff denim) are all treatments created with… you guessed it...water.
Did you know that the average Levi's® 501® jeans will consume 3000 liters of water during its lifecycle, about 42 liters alone in the finishing process? According to “Sustainable Fashion: Past, Present and Future,” it takes at least 7000 liters, or around 1800 gallons, as an industry standard just to farm enough cotton to begin the denim making process.
“We found that 49% of this water is used to grow the cotton and 45% is used when our customers wash their jeans,” Geert Peeters, Levi’s former head of global supply chain, told The Guardian back in 2010 ahead of their debut Water<Less jean collection launch. “The remaining 6% is used during the manufacturing process of the jean.”
Levi’s set out to solve the unsustainable consumption of water in a portion of the lifecycle they could control: their manufacturing process. In 2011, Levi’s debuted Water<Less Jeans, a collection that utilizes over 20 separate innovative finishing techniques that average a water savings of 28% to 96% between styles. By 2020, the Levi’s brand aims to make 80 percent of its products using Water<Less™ techniques, up from nearly 25 percent today.