Blue Jeans: Mixed Rags Become New Again

Being in the used clothing and mixed rags industry, we are always interested in “green” fashion innovations. We were so pleased to learn of the partnership between Levi Strauss & Co and Evrnu, which is about to turn blue jeans a little more green.

In the 1870s Levi Strauss & Co, in collaboration with Jacob Davis, introduced the world to the modern blue jeans. Due to their hardiness and durable constructions, they were originally intended for those working in labor-intensive industries such as mining and livestock. By the 1950s blue jeans had become a fashion fixture, and were especially popular with teenagers. Today they are a wardrobe staple around the world. They come in a variety of different cuts, colors, and finishes.

Blue Jeans by EcoGoodz, a mixed rags supplier
Blue Jeans are a uniquely American invention and have become popular around the world.

The production process for the manufacture of blue jeans is labor- and resource-intensive, using many virgin resources and no mixed rags or post-consumer textile fibers. But all of that is about to change. Levi Strauss & Co has teamed up with Seattle-based company Evrnu, to develop the first blue jeans made from 50% post consumer cotton. According to one news outlet:

Levi Strauss has teamed up with Evrnu, a Seattle-based startup that reconstitutes old fibers into new, to create the world’s first jeans made up of more than 50 percent post-consumer cotton waste. The two companies created the prototype, a pair of Levi’s 511s, using five used cotton T-shirts and a technique that Evrnu says consumes 98 percent less water than those associated with virgin-cotton products. The jeans, according to Evrnu CEO Stacy Flynn, provide a glimpse of a future where textiles are regenerated not just once but multiple times, paring down waste. From its Water<Less finishing techniques to its Wellthread design process, Levi’s has long pursued water conservation with a near-evangelical zeal, but the denim giant has also spoken at length about its desire to facilitate a circular economy, one where the products and byproduct waste serve as feedstock, not fodder for the landfill.

“[Levi’s] was the perfect first partner for us to demonstrate our technology and capability as they are an iconic American company with a product that’s recognized around the world,” Flynn said in a statement. “Our aspiration is to build a pair of Levi’s jeans that are just as beautiful and strong as the original and we’re making great progress toward that goal.”

Levi’s is the first apparel company to harness Evrnu’s patent-pending technology, which breaks down cotton at the molecular level before extruding the resulting pulp into pristine fibers.

“This first prototype represents a major advancement in apparel innovation. We have the potential to reduce by 98 percent the water that would otherwise be needed to grow virgin cotton while giving multiple lives to each garment,” said Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi’s. “Although early days, this technology holds great promise and is an exciting advancement as we explore the use of regenerated cotton to help significantly reduce our overall impact on the planet.”

Evrnu recycles cotton mixed rags, breaking down the fibers to their molecular level before extruding them for reuse. We are so excited to see these jeans come to market and become the new American wardrobe staple!