Levi Strauss & Co is advocating for sustainability in fashion, but not in the way you might think.
A recent interview with Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation with the company, explains how.
In 1991, Levi Strauss & Co introduced “terms of engagement.” This was a set of guidelines which outlined the company’s behavior and standards across the industry, from production to sales. The terms of engagement advocated for social, economic and global good through fair worker’s rights, healthy work environments and positive engagement with the planet.
The concept caught on, and other companies followed suit. Today, Levi’s continues to strive to maintain a positive global impact, but not only through supply chain management.
Dillinger explains that the creation of a timeless product is the first step to creating a sustainable market. While other designers may push a style or trend on a consumer, Levi’s aims to keep its collections timeless.
“What would happen if we could change culture in such a way that consumers imagined the end of life of the product they bought?” Dillinger is aware of the demands that the fashion industry puts on the environment. Scarcity of water, for example, is a leading concern.
So what if a consumer could visualize a long term relationship with a product? Dillinger imagines a scenario where a consumer’s favorite 501 jeans could be composted to fertilize the food she eats. He hopes that this school of thought will encourage consumers to think about the product itself. For example, how was it dyed? What effect will this dye have on the planet, or a person’s health?
But Dillinger believes that thinking sustainably is even simpler than that. With the creation of a product with lasting style, a consumer can develop a long term relationship with an article of clothing.
While other designers follow trends, Levi’s strives to create a product which will be used for a long time. Dillinger explains, “We’re choosing not to participate in the fashion cycle. Instead, we’re choosing to cultivate long-term relationships with the consumer and deliver against their needs. And hopefully that participates in the recalibration of consumption broadly, though that is a lofty goal.”
Levi’s will continue to promote global good through its practices. But the company wants consumers to know that it is also working to achieve sustainability through long lasting, quality products.