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Levi’s Wellthread Touts More Hemp, Looser Fits and Natural Dyes

COVID-19 recovery is on the horizon but the pandemic's impact on sustainability, retail, product development and consumer buying patterns means the denim industry must evolve. Join Rivet on April 20th at 11 am ET for the COVID, One Year Later roundtable.

Considered a “laboratory for progress,” Levi’s Wellthread is in a constant state of evolution.

The sustainably focused line made its cottonized hemp debut in 2019 with denim featuring 30 percent hemp—a major innovation, considering hemp’s inherent sustainability and regenerative properties. Fast forward to Spring/Summer 2021, and the line is adding a heap of sustainable benefits, including a higher hemp count, natural dyes and a new men’s fit that bring it to a whole new level.

The new collection now offers garments including men’s and women’s Trucker Jackets, and men’s 502 Taper jeans, made with 55 percent hemp blends. Though too-high cottonized hemp formulations have traditionally sacrificed comfort and hand feel, Levi’s Wellthread team was able to achieve an end product that is both soft and lightweight. By increasing the hemp percentage to anything above 50 percent, the brand reported that the “majority hemp” garment triggers a lower import duty, resulting in both a financial and environmental win.

Levi’s Wellthread Spring/Summer 2021 collection features sustainable fabrications with more hemp, looser fits and natural dyes.

Women’s Trucker Jacket

The collection also gets an update in the form of environmentally friendlier dyes. Though chemicals are often used to allow the dye to penetrate yarn, select garments in the Wellthread line are made with a process that uses ultrasonic waves to apply plant-based dye. Select denim pieces and all T-shirts in the collection are made using the new process, with vibrantly colored tees displaying a range of plant-based themes and images.

Also using a more natural dyeing technique is the 551 Z for men, a new authentic straight leg with a zip fly. The Botanic Blue wash is achieved through indigo grown in the U.S. as a replacement crop for tobacco farmers. The denim is made from 100 percent organic cotton from India.

“We’re proud to bring forward this latest Wellthread collection,” said Paul Dillinger, Levi’s vice president of global product innovation. “It builds on all the work we’ve done in the past and continues to expand the future possibilities of design that makes sustainability the top priority at every step of the process, while still delivering product that consumers will love.”

Wellthread also continues to move the needle in terms of circularity, and will feature its “most sustainable jean ever” in the new collection. Launched in July 2020, the 502 men’s jean is made with organic cotton and Circulose, Re:newcell’s material that includes 20 percent recycled denim and 20 percent sustainably sourced viscose. The collection features additional circular design elements, including back patches, Red Tabs, thread and pocketing made with all-natural fibers that ensure easier recycling at end-of-life.

The new Wellthread collection is now available online and in stores, and retails for $40-$198.

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