Jeans giant Levi Strauss is going one step further to differentiate itself from the average denim offer with a new sustainability partnership. The company has linked up with Aquafil and its Econyl brand to create a new men’s line made from regenerated nylon derived from waste materials such as fishing nets and used carpets.
The companies said that looking into the future, there’s no guarantee that there’ll be enough land available to meet global demand for cotton, the main fibre for denim clothing. “So to be a successful company in a world that is increasingly resource-constrained, Levi’s need to continue down the road toward achieving closed-loop apparel — while incorporating other alternatives to virgin raw materials.”
“We envision a world where everyday items don’t have to come at the expense of the environment,” said Aquafil chief Giulio Bonazzi. “This new partnership is further proof that sustainable materials can be used to reinvigorate products that have been traditionally made. Levi’s is redefining the denim industry.”
I’m not sure if it’s quite doing that as a number of other brands and retailers are also pursuing sustainable fabric goals. But anything such a major name can do will be a boon given the impact of mass denim production on the environment (and the bad press the denim industry often gets around sustainability).
We’re still at a stage where such initiatives are newsworthy, of course, which means they’re still not the norm. It’s a bit like animal testing was in the beauty industry some years ago and thankfully we’re no longer at a stage where not testing on animals is unusual enough to make headlines.
So, what about Econyl? The fibre is made from 100% regenerated nylon waste materials and helps divert waste from landfills and oceans. It claims no loss of quality after reclamation and transformation of nylon waste, and is used to produce a wide range of textile products such as sportswear, swimwear, and carpets.
In fact, Aquafil also linked up with Speedo USA last year on what was claimed to be the first such initiative in the swim sector. It converted leftover fabric scraps into raw nylon for swimsuits. Other brands it has worked with include Triumph, Adidas, and La Perla.
Is this a strong commercial proposition? It looks that way. Aquafil started its Econyl Regeneration System as a sustainability initiative in 2007 at a time when 85% of all textile waste in the US ended up in landfill. It said that within four years it had become a commercial driver within the company, which means it’s more than just tokenism. Good on them.