Levi’s launches ‘cottonised hemp’ collection

brett mathews | 11th March 2019

SAN FRANCISCO – Levi’s has launched a new collection which uses a new form of ‘cottonised hemp’ denim – hemp that’s been altered to feel just like cotton. The environmental benefits of hemp have long been known, with it requiring far less water and land in the growing phase and having a smaller footprint than conventionally grown cotton. However, the stumbling block for brands is that it has a coarse feel. To get around that, Levi’s has put hemp through a special process developed by fibre technology specialists that softened the material, “giving it a look and feel that is almost indistinguishable from cotton.”

Levi’s Wellthread Outerknown spring/summer collection features the new material. Outerknown is a sustainable clothing company founded by pro surfer Kelly Slater.

“We know hemp is good for the environment, but it has always felt coarse,” said Paul Dillinger, VP of product innovation at Levi’s. “This is the first time we’ve been able to offer consumers a cottonised hemp product that feels just as good, if not better, than cotton.”

The new collection includes an array of products that were developed with sustainability in mind. A pair of jeans and a trucker jacket are made with a 70/30 cotton-to-cottonised hemp blend, with the hemp sourced from a rain-fed hemp crop which reduced water use by around 30 per cent.

The board shorts are made of single-fibre, fully recyclable nylon, and all of its materials – the eyelets, the core, the stitching – are made from nylon, meaning, claim Levi’s, “it can theoretically be recycled in perpetuity and re-made into other nylon garments, thus achieving the closed-loop recyclability that has long eluded apparel companies.”

The collection also includes a T-shirt made from recycled jeans and a western shirt made with a cotton/hemp blend.