In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the iconic Levi’s® 501® jean, Levi’s® will unveil a suite of products – a Plant-Based 501® Jean, a hemp-cotton blend selvedge 501® Jean, and a circular 501® Jean – that reflect how forward-thinking design initiatives and technologies can be applied to a timeless classic, pointing the way to the future. 

The Plant-Based 501® Jean is made of at least 97% plant-based materials, with all certified organic cotton, natural dyestuff, a plant-based patch and ink made from wood waste. Set for release in July, these jeans are an indication of what the industry could look like in the years to come, with the push to minimize synthetic materials derived from fossil fuels and the need to make more garments with renewable inputs rather than finite resources. They are an evolution in the company’s design innovation practice, building on past seasons and establishing new foundations on which to build going forward. 

As a company that has been making 501® jeans for 150 years now, we have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to continually interrogate the process by which these jeans are made. These jeans build on past efforts to create more circular jeans and in turn give us a foundation for future innovation.

 Paul Dillinger, VP of Design Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co.

For Plant-Based 501® jeans, the fabric is made with 100% Organic Cotton Standard (OCS) certified organically grown cotton and dyed with plant-based indigo from Stony Creek Colors. The denim color is inspired by the Levi’s®X80 archival shade. Instead of leather, the jeans’ back patch is made from MIRUM® by NFW, a 100% bio-based and plastic-free material that generates no effluent in production. The internal pocket bag is 100% cotton and printed with BioBlack TX, a plant-based black pigment made from wood waste and developed by Nature Coatings, another collaborating partner. Woven labels and sewing threads in non-critical areas of the garment are also 100% cotton. Furthermore, each pair contains at least 97% bio-based content based on components weight measured against overall garment weight. 

Additionally, building on its efforts with  cottonized hemp over the years through its WellThread line, Levi’s is releasing a hemp-cotton blend selvedge 501® Jean, offered in a variety of shades and finishes for women and men alike, some featuring natural dyes. They will be released throughout the year, marrying the premium selvedge fabric with the alternative fiber innovation that has characterized so much of Wellthread’s work in recent years. 

In our ongoing research and development, we strive to improve our design practices and conserve environmental resources every way we can. By incorporating sustainable innovation, in mainline and premium products alike, we learn what’s possible and how we can continue working towards solving some of our biggest environmental challenges.

Una Murphy, Levi’s® Director of Design Innovation