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SAN FRANCISCO – US denim brand Levi Strauss has announced a major ramping up of its use of lasers as it seeks to increasingly automate the way its jeans are made. New techniques, developed by Spanish tech business Jeanologia, will help Levi greatly reduce chemical use and increase the efficiency with which jeans are faded, distressed and ripped.

Increased use of automated techniques and lasers will mean Levi will be able to finish a pair of jeans every 90 seconds – a massive improvement on the current two to three pairs an hour. The company says the new “less intensive” finishing method will be fully in place by 2020 and help the company be more responsive to local markets. The methods will also allow the business to produce just a few kinds of jeans in bulk so that it can quickly tailor smart new finishes to buyer demands.

In a process Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co, called, “the future of jeans manufacturing,” Levi’s futuristic method involves taking a picture of the clothing, and using computer software to design the colouring, rips and other details. Smart lasers then interpret the design and inject details into the denim.

Levi says that while the previous process could take more than six months from the start of the design cycle, this will now reduced to weeks or less.

“Our goal was to tackle two predominant industry challenges — being able to respond quickly to changing consumer trends while making the manufacturing process more sustainable,” said Chip Bergh. “We are addressing both agility and sustainability without compromising the authenticity our consumers expect from us. This is the future of jeans manufacturing, and LS&Co. is well-positioned to lead the way.”

Levi has already begun piloting this new model with strategic vendors and has started briefing some of its key customers.

“One of the biggest challenges we face as an industry is ensuring we have the right products at the right time, as well as the ability to respond to our customers’ evolving needs with speed,” said Paige Thomas, executive vice president and general merchandise manager for men’s and kids at Nordstrom Inc. “The team at Levi’s is working toward this challenge by contributing to the future of the apparel industry as one that’s both agile and uncompromising on quality, while improving sustainability. We’re excited to be part of it.”

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