Cult denim brand Levi’s has been working to make their collections more sustainable, choosing hemp as one of the most efficient fabrics to do so – with one collection made up of more than 50% hemp. Here’s why hemp is so much more eco-friendly than traditional materials used for denim and how Levi’s is using it.
Denim is usually made from cotton, and while it is a comfortable and durable fabric, it is extremely water-intensive to process; to make one cotton t-shirt, 2,700 litres of water is needed! Hemp, on the other hand, requires less water and fewer pesticides to grow than cotton.
In 2019, Levi’s partnered up with the Swedish recycling textile technology company Re:NewCell to produce Levi’s WellThread collection featuring cottonised hemp. Later that year, Levi’s debuted a collection with denim featuring 30% hemp. In March 2021, it released another WellThread collection with jeans made from 55% hemp.
Since its first hemp collection, Levi’s has been working to produce a softer hemp fabric so that it feels like cotton, as cottonised hemp feels coarse on the skin.
Why Use Hemp?
Hemp has been used for thousands of years and is seen as the first example of human industry, used for clothing and to produce paper. It was then used in many industries, including for making ships’ sails and ropes. However, as cotton gained popularity, the use of hemp declined.
As the global waste crisis grows, sustainability has become the focus of many industries. Hemp fabric has emerged as an alternative to cotton, mainly because of how much more water-efficient it is than cotton; hemp requires around four times less water than cotton, and it can be grown using rainwater instead of irrigated water.
Plus, hemp requires around half of the amount of land per ton compared to cotton and the crop doesn’t require extensive use of fertilisers as part of the plant itself helps to replenish the soil. Finally, hemp crops can produce up to double the fibre yield per hectare than cotton, making it a more efficient and cost-effective crop.
Levi’s is one of the companies setting the example of how corporations should be adapting their practices to adapt to a changing climate. Be sure to come back every Monday for more positive environmental news!
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