Levi's or Wrangler? Oasis or Blur? Back in our youth decisions like these all came down to personal preference. Today this still rings true for both music and fashion but when it comes to what we wear our conscience will often push us towards a more environmentally friendly brand.
Legendary jeans maker Levi Strauss and sustainable clothing brand Outerknown are two such brands that have banded together to release a brand new collection that is both stylish and sustainable. They’re calling it the ‘Wellthread Collection’.
This unique collection features Levi jeans and jackets made from cottonised hemp which is a mixture of 72% cotton and 28% hemp. By using a method that uses very little energy they can soften the hemp fibres to make them look and, more importantly, feel like pure cotton.
Every item in the collection is 100% recyclable. It even features T-shirts and shirts made using recycled jeans, giving consumers both style and sustainability all in one.
Levi's have started this transition into hemp for both ethical and practical reasons with Vice President Paul Dillinger saying:
“We’ve always known about the tremendous sustainability benefit of cultivating hemp versus some of the other fibres that we use.”
Hemp is well known to be much better for the environment than cotton. For example, to produce 1 kg of cotton requires 10,000 litres of water compared to hemp which only needs on average 300 litres of water.
Cotton is also notorious for needing chemical pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilisers when growing which ends up destroying the soil and detrimentally impacting the ozone layer. Hemp, on the other hand, cleans the soil by removing heavy metals and toxins only to then return nutrients to the soil in a process known as phytoremediation.
Cotton also has a large carbon footprint whereas hemp actually sequesters CO2 from the air while releasing oxygen. It is also antimicrobial, breathable, biodegradable, environmentally friendly and, above all, comfortable.
The VP of Levi's also sees hemp being the future of fashion as he adds:
“I think solutions to cotton are going to become the norm, and cotton is going to become the exception”
History has a habit of repeating itself and prior to prohibition times, hemp was used to make 80% of all textiles up until the 20th century. It was used for clothes, blankets, tents and so on until it was made illegal.
Hemp has now been made legal in America again on a federal level which will result in an abundance of hemp fibres for the clothing industry. Coupled with the fact that it is lighter, softer, stronger and more ethical than cotton, you can expect to see it on the runway very soon.