Introducing Levi’s(R) Plant-Based 501s(R)

Levi’s® is excited to launch its latest innovation within the 501® family — the Plant-Based 501® jean, made with at least 97% plant-based materials. 

In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the iconic Levi’s® 501® jean, Levi’s® unveils 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. 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,” says Paul Dillinger, VP of Design Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co. “These jeans build on past efforts to create more circular jeans and in turn give us a foundation for future innovation.”

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. 

Joining the 150th anniversary celebration is the circular 501® Jean, first released in 2022. This jean is made with a mix of organic cotton pioneering Circulose® fiber, viscose made by the company Renewcell  from recycled denim and other forms of textile waste. The formulation allows us to use far fewer natural resources and chemicals in the production process. Each material component aligns with a strict single-fiber strategy that enables efficient recycling at the end of the garment’s useful life. By replacing parts of the garment that would normally be made from synthetic fibers – like polyester pocketing, threads, labels, and interfacing – with 100 percent cotton alternatives, Levi’s® has removed synthetic elements that would otherwise disrupt the cotton recovery process. The result is a new jean made with old jeans that is itself designed to be recyclable, with the potential to be re-made into new jeans, again and again.

“In our ongoing research and development, we strive to improve our design practices and conserve environmental resources every way we can,” says Una Murphy, Levi’s® Director of Design Innovation. “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.” 

The Plant-Based 501® women’s jeans are now available online and in the stores. The men’s jeans will be available to buy as of July 31st.

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