Forget gold stars — Levi’s is proud to be a green star by winning the #1 denim brand title in GoodGuide's first-ever sustainability rating system for apparel brands.
Levi Strauss taped the above chat with GoodGuide co-founder Dara O'Rourke and Michael Kobori, Levi’s VP of Social and Environmental Sustainability, to discuss the accolade — or eco-lade — and explain its social and environmental commitment.
Levi's also highlights the GoodGuide honor in a blog post, while GoodGuide explains on its blog that its just-launched apparel ratings are based on environmental and social performance of 118 apparel brands: “Our social assessment is based on evaluating fair pay for workers (specifically whether the brand has a meaningful policy to support living wages), whether the company audits working conditions, commitment to transparency, and responsible purchasing practices.”
In fact, the Levi Strauss-owned Levi’s and Dockers brands made the list's top five apparel brands, with a score of 7.4 out of 10.
Aside from good PR, GoodGuide's recognition of Levi Strauss & Co., a global leader in jeanswear, is environmentally significant. Consider the impact of the 450 million pairs of jeans sold in the United States annually, about 1.5 pairs for every man, woman, and child.
“The average woman has eight pairs in her closet," OnEarth magazine notes. "Chances are that to make those jeans, cotton crops were drenched in pesticides; fibers were stained with toxic dyes; and the resulting fabric was sandblasted, chemically softened, and ripped and scrunched to create the wrinkles and tears that make new jeans look perfectly broken in.”
Levi’s lifecycle approach to product design and its recently launched Water<Less collection of jeans that use up to 96% less water, were key to the GoodGuide award.
At the corporate level, Levi Strauss was a pioneer in establishing environmental requirements for suppliers; guidelines on water quality; restrictions on substances that can be used in manufacturing; and a “Care Tag for Our Planet” campaign to educate consumers about washing less (and in cold water) and line drying.
“We don’t have nutrition labels on clothing yet, but GoodGuide is the first independent company to give consumers data to make informed comparisons about the clothes they purchase,” says Kobori.
“We believe that increased transparency is the best way to empower consumers to support brands that are creating products in a thoughtful way.”
Levi’s expects to sell a whopping 1.5 million pairs of jeans this spring. With environmental experts predicting that a brand's water footprint will become more important than carbon footprint in the not-too-distant future, Levi’s social and environmental impact is becoming as important as making a fashion statement.