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Levi's continues push into circularity with recyclable 501 denim jeans

Camilla Rydzek
18 January 2022

Levi's will launch a more circular iteration of its 501 Original jeans as part of its ongoing partnership with Swedish sustainable technology company Renewcell.

The new 501 jeans will be made with Renewcell's Circulose fibre, a sustainably sourced viscose made in part from recycled denim, and organic cotton. It is also designed to be fully recyclable.

The new material mix will mean that the jeans use far fewer natural resources and fewer chemicals to produce, aligning with Levi's broader strategy for resource conservation across the life cycles of its products and commitments to embrace circularity.

Levi's Group circular denim

Parts of the 501 jeans usually derived from synthetic fibres such as polyester pocketing, threads and labels were replaced with 100% cotton alternatives, enabling an easier cotton recovery process and thereby making the garment recyclable.

"The result is a new jean made from old jeans that’s designed with the potential to be re-made into new jeans – again and again," the brand said.

The launch builds on the brand's previous collaboration with Renewcell on the brand's Wellthread line for the 502 jeans, which was named a “World Changing Idea” by Fast Company.

The jeans is also part of Levi's campaign, “Buy Better, Wear Longer”, which aims to raise awareness about the shared responsibility and environmental impacts of apparel production and consumption.

Paul Dillinger, VP of Design Innovation, said: "Last year’s Wellthread collaboration with Renewcell showed that this could be done, that we could find man- made cellulosic fiber made with recycled denim that was strong enough and durable enough to meet our quality standards. That hadn’t been possible before with mechanically recycled denim.

"Now we’re taking that innovation and applying it to what could rightly be called the most iconic garment in all of apparel, the 501, which shows how serious we are about moving in the direction of circularity. Not only will our circular 501 jeans be designed to stand the test of time, just as they always have been, but they’ll also be able to find a second, third or fourth life as new garments."

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