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LS&Co. Collaboratory Selects Talent from Across the Supply Chain

Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) brings climate change front and center in its new initiative to foster sustainable innovation.

The company, which came under scrutiny last month for its own climate pollution policies, announced Monday the 12 members it has selected to join its second Levi Strauss & Co. Collaboratory. The fellowship for socially and environmentally responsible entrepreneurs in the apparel industry will focus on the issue of climate change and the climate impact of the industry.

Fellows will work alongside LS&Co. leaders and experts in the field during an intensive workshop weekend at the company’s Eureka Innovation Lab in California in June. The goal of the workshop is to advance projects that help reduce the climate impact of apparel. Each of the fellows’ climate-related innovations can potentially receive up to $50,000 in funding from LS&Co.

The 12-person Collaboratory includes entrepreneurs throughout the apparel and footwear supply chain. Among the fellows: François Morillion, co-founder of the sustainable shoe brand Veja; Ryan Huston, founder of Huston Textile Company, maker of small-batch, USA-made organic fabric using vintage looms; Isaac Nichelson, co-founder of Circular Systems, a materials startup developing circular technologies; and Marianne Hughes, founder of Knowlabel, a smart device company providing real-time data on ethical and sustainable practices across supply chains.

“The Collaboratory was designed to propel inventive and tangible solutions that address the most important social and environmental challenges facing the apparel industry today,” Michael Kobori, LS&Co. vice president of sustainability, said. “We’re energized by the collective talent of this diverse group of leaders—and excited to see how they push boundaries to address the climate impact of the apparel industry.”

LS&Co. granted more than $350,000 to the inaugural class in 2017, which focused on solutions to reduce the apparel industry’s water impact. The funding was given to projects that helped expand a natural indigo dyeing facility, led to products that are less water-intensive and made wastewater treatment solutions more accessible to small artisan workshops.