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Natural Sources Add Color to Levi’s Fresh Collection

Levi’s new collection offers a sustainable twist on a concept from the ’70s.

The denim giant launched Levi’s Fresh, a men’s, women’s and unisex collection of colorful denim, tees and sweats dyed with nature-derived dyes made from plants and botanicals. The collection is based on Fresh Produce, a range from the ’70s that was inspired by produce. All pieces are accented with special tabs featuring various fruits and vegetables—a take on the carrot tabs included on the original collection.

The collection is an example of the denim industry’s progress with natural dyes. Though natural dyes traditionally skew toward earth tones, Levi’s applied new dyeing methods that were able to produce vibrant shades of peach, lavender, pink and yellow. All dyes in the collection feature a minimum of 50 percent plant or mineral content. The methods were applied to both yarn and garment dyed pieces.

The dyes come from one of three natural sources, including non-endangered or non-threatened plants—like madder root extract and natural indigo—agricultural byproducts that can’t be used as food—like pomegranate skins—and minerals like clays, carbonates and natural oxides. Levi’s noted that one of the benefits of plant and mineral dyes is that they need fewer additives to adhere to the yarn, making it a much more sustainable and important innovation for the dyeing process.

Levi’s went a step further to also save water during production. It worked with mills that use reverse osmosis on select machinery that recycles water. For some garments, Levi’s used a power dye technique that requires less water than traditional rope dyeing. The brand also relied on garment dyeing for tops, which consumes less water during dyeing.

Natural dyes are a focus for Levi’s. In September, it used plant-based dyes by Stony Creek Colors in the WellThread collection.

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Stylistically, the collection taps into the ongoing trend for joyful colors and versatile fits. Designed to be worn in monochromatic head-to-toe looks or mixed and matched, the collection features a 551Z Straight Crop jean and a Type II Trucker in all four of the colors. Also included is a soft, oversized anorak with kangaroo pocket, a Levi’s XX Chino pleated twill short, a Utility High Loose short, a cotton patch pocket chore coat, a calf length denim overall dress, and range of Red Tab Vintage tees.

Accessories like a cotton twill bucket hat and a knit beanie round out the collection, which will get a winterized update with corduroy pieces in the fall.

For the launch on Monday, Levi’s gave Red Tab loyalty program members free Pressed Juice at select stores. The brand is also partnering with Tastemade to bring a fresh produce farmer’s market experience to Smorgasburg in Los Angeles.

The Levi’s Fresh launch follows the arrival of the brand’s collaboration with Los Angeles-based studio Come Tees. The limited run collection is available exclusively on the Levi’s app. The collection offers just 10 punk-inspired patch-covered 501 jeans and a screen-printed graphic T-shirt based on the rebellious style of Come Tees founder Sonya Sombreuil.

Levi's x Come Tees
Levi’s x Come Tees Courtesy

“In punk, there’s a tradition of wearing patches on your clothes,” she said. “But I wasn’t really down with the patches for those bands. So I always made my own patches of things that I was really into.”

The collection includes a DIY customization kit that includes needles, acrylic markers and Come Tees patches designed by Sombreuil.