Levi's claims its fiber tech specialists cracked the code that makes hemp look like cotton.
In recent years, Levi Strauss & Co. has worked hard to reposition itself as a forward-looking, sustainability-conscious denim company. She did an admirable job, introducing a water-saving finishing process, offering recycling services for old clothes in every store in America, launching a line of jeans made from old fishnets. and by encouraging customers to wash their jeans less often (or never).
Despite the long history of hemp as a material used in making textiles and fabrics, modern clothing manufacturers have yet to embrace cannabis-based clothing. The reason: Hemp may be great for producing industrial fabrics, they say, but as a wearable garment, it's a problem. And especially for consumers accustomed to the touch and feel of cotton. But Levi Strauss & Co. is about to bring about a change. The company says it has created a new line of hemp clothing that "looks like cotton," while using a fraction of the water needed to grow cotton.
Le hemp is known to be a much more durable material than cotton. It is a densely growing plant that smothers competing weeds and reduces the need for pesticides. It takes half as much water as cotton to grow, and when processing is taken into account, the difference is four times greater. In addition, it restores 60% of the nutrients it removes from the soil and returns to the soil.
Clothing manufacturers have been reluctant to use it so far.
Levi's new hemp jeans look like cotton, but use 30% less water
This is the first time that we have been able to offer consumers a cottonized hemp product that is as good, if not better, than cotton, ”said Paul Dillinger, vice president of product innovation at Levi. A communicated Press goes on to explain that the company "uses a process developed by fiber technology specialists that softens hemp, giving it an almost indistinguishable look and feel from cotton."
But now she's just announced it: a new collection made from a blend of cotton and hemp. The collection Levi's® Wellthread ™ x Outerknown, launched on March 4, is the company's first foray into using a special hemp that has been "cottonized" to feel like cotton.
The jeans and jacket in this collection are made from a 70/30 blend of cotton and hemp, and all of the hemp comes from an exclusively rain-fed crop; it does not require any additional irrigation and thus reduces the water used for cultivation by 30%.
In addition, the collection contains T-shirts made from recycled denim and a cotton-hemp blend, as well as a pair of board shorts made from 100% single-fiber nylon, which means they can be fully recycled, because no separation of fibers is required:
“All materials: fabric, eyelets, core, seams; are made of nylon, which means they can theoretically be recycled in perpetuity and made into other nylon garments, achieving the closed-loop recyclability that garment makers have long eluded.
Levi's hemp clothing is available in the company's Wellthread by Outerknown Spring / Summer collections. For now, they only include jeans and a trucker jacket, but Levi's plans to expand the selection soon.
These are excellent initiatives, indicative of a fashion industry that knows it needs to change or that it needs to be held responsible for widespread ecological damage. Hope we see a lot more interesting projects coming from Levi's.
But even if customers don't notice the difference, Mother Nature will. Growing hemp, compared to that of many other agricultural products, is significantly more sustainable. The carbon footprint of hemp is about half that of conventional cotton. And because hemp is a hardy plant that can grow in many climates, it uses a lot less water. Levi's says he sources his hemp from crops grown in raids. This reduces water consumption by about a third compared to cotton.
With its new hemp clothing line, Levi's could start a major new trend in the clothing industry. A trend towards more environmentally friendly fabrics and sustainable sources of supply. With hemp now legal at the federal level, expect more companies to use it. And if it's like cotton, it's the icing on the cake.