Natural dyes are the latest eco-friendly ingredients used in the Levi’s WellThread collection, the heritage brand’s product range that serves as a laboratory for sustainable innovation.
The men’s and women’s collection offers garments made with organic cotton and cottonized hemp fabrics dyed with a new range of sustainable, plant-based dye systems from Stony Creek Colors. The Springfield, Tenn.-based company has developed and validated technology that enables it to profitably supply the market with indigo plant-based color, enabling a transition from synthetic, petroleum-based processes that rely on toxic chemicals.
The dye used in the collection is the product of a multi-year development relationship with Sarah Bellos, Stony Creek Colors founder, Levi’s stated. In March, Stony Creek closed a Series B financing round totaling more than $9 million.
The result is a vibrant natural indigo denim woven by Levi’s long-time mill partner Cone (which has worked with Stony Creek since 2015) from 100 percent organic cotton. The fabric is used in the Fall 2021 collection’s new Stay Loose Taper jean for men and a ’70s High Straight for women, as well as a vintage fit Trucker for men and adjustable Trucker jacket for women.
Levi’s also applied natural dyes sourced from food waste streams to dye non-denim styles in the collection, including the Stay Loose Coverall that can be worn loose and slouchy or cinched for a more fitted look. T-shirts and sweatshirts in the collection are dyed with plant-based colors that use sound, rather than chemistry, to fix the pigment molecules to the textile fibers. This new sonic dye application method uses less water than traditional methods, and the plant-derived colors reduce the need for synthetic chemistry, the brand stated.
Designs in the collection are centered around a subtly relaxed fit that is both timeless and perfect for today’s at-home needs. Along with the High Straight jean for women, the collection also includes a new balloon fit skirt featuring a high slit, and for men, a new relaxed fit garment-dyed hemp twill pant.
“With WellThread, we always craft clothes that you’ll be able to keep in your wardrobe for as long as possible,” said Paul Dillinger, vice president, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co. “When we talk about Buy Better, Wear Longer, we’re talking about these types of clothes. Subtle, thoughtful, and beautiful.”
Additionally, the entire collection is designed for recyclability. By eliminating synthetic components like nylon zipper tapes, polyester labels, and leather patches, the brand engineered the overall materiality of every WellThread garment for easy recovery and efficient re-use in advanced garment recycling systems.
“We figure that if we engineer the clothes well at the beginning of their life, they’ll still have a maximum value at the end of it,” Dillinger added.
The collection is available now on online and in Levi’s stores and retails for $40-$198.