Haute Hemp: Levi’s + Outerknown Create Sustainable Collection with Cottonized Hemp

Two fashion icons have joined forces to create a sustainable closed-loop clothing line with garments made from cottonized hemp.



cottonized hemp
PHOTO | Levi Strauss & Co
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Two fashion icons have joined forces to create a sustainable closed-loop clothing line with garments made from recycled cotton, and a revolutionary product, cottonized hemp.

The collection is a collaboration between Levi’s Wellthread clothing line and the eco-friendly California-based surfwear brand, Outerknown — founded by surf legend, Kelly Slater and acclaimed designer John Moore.

The spring and summer 2019 collections feature super chic, classic styles like Levi’s iconic western shirt, slim fit jeans, board shorts, and trucker jackets.

All garments in the line are made from sustainably sourced materials, such as nylon, and cottonized hemp. Cottonized hemp is made from a combination of the two fabrics, which are woven together and specially designed to feel soft.

Levi’s partnered with fiber technology specialists to create the smooth textured fabric in a process called “cottonization.” The innovative process “softens the fiber — using very little energy or chemical processing — to make it look, and more importantly feel, almost indistinguishable from cotton,” according to the company’s “Off the Cuff” page.

The creation of cottonized hemp is an important step toward sustainable fashion. The industry at large is infamous for being one of the largest users and polluters of water. The use of hemp, which takes considerably less H2O to grow, could drastically decrease the water consumption required to produce a single piece of clothing.

The hemp used is sourced from a rain-fed crop, reports Levi’s, and “thereby reduced the water used in fiber cultivation by roughly 30 percent.”

A pair of jeans or a trucker jacket from the collection incorporates a 70:30 cotton-to-cottonized hemp blend.

The line will be the first to feature cottonized hemp jeans, according to Levi Strauss and Co.

The collection’s 511 slim cut jeans are made from denim that’s woven with Tencel and Refibra technology. According to Tencel.com, the “technology involves upcycling a substantial proportion of cotton scraps […], in addition to wood pulp, where the raw material is transformed to produce new virgin TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers […].”

Jeans are also made using Levi’s new operating model, Project F.L.X. — a digitalized denim finishing system that drastically reduces the water, time, and chemicals needed to make each pair.

Board shorts — which come in washed indigo, or vintage sun prints — are 100 percent recyclable. The shorts — the eyelets, core, stiching, buttons — are made entirely from single-fiber nylon, “meaning it can theoretically be recycled in perpetuity and re-made into other nylon garments, thus achieving the closed-loop recyclability that has long eluded apparel companies,” reports the Levi Strauss Co.

Levi’s Wellthread x Outerknown collection in an intersection of the two brand’s multi-pronged approach to sustainability, which goes beyond the use of recycled materials alone. All garments in the line are produced in facilities that embrace Levi Strauss & Co.’s Worker Well-Being programs. Programs, which were established in 2011, give employees access to resources including health, financial, and family planning services.

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