This week Levi’s launched a new range, Levi’s Wellthread Recycled Denim, which can be recycled again and again. The jean represents more than five years of research into circular denim design.
Importantly, innovations like this allow the fashion industry to reduce dependency on virgin materials. Una Murphy, Levi’s Senior Designer for Innovations, says “recycling keeps garments out of landfills and minimizes the use of natural resources. We’re transforming old jeans into high-quality materials, moving us beyond traditional cotton recycling, which shortens and breaks fibers. By using high- quality fiber, Levi’s jeans last longer, and designing for circularity allows our old jeans to become new jeans, again and again.”
Levi’s Wellthread Recycled Denim is constructed from Circulose, a “breakthrough” material made from worn-out jeans and organic cotton.
To make Circulose, the process begins with discarded cotton textiles like worn denim. These textiles are broken down with water, colour is stripped, and synthetic fibers are removed from the mix, leaving a slurry-like mixture which is then dried into a sheet. Then, the sheet is made into a new fiber, combined with organic cotton, and lastly woven into a new fabric.
In addition, Circulose is manufactured in a first-of-its-kind recycling facility powered by renewable energy in Kristinehamn, Sweden. This translates to denim that requires less water and energy, leaving a lighter carbon footprint. The chemicals used in the recycling process are recovered and reused, and the end-water is treated and clean enough to be released into a nearby lake.
Impressively, the makers of Circulose, re:newcell, can produce 7,0-00 tons of Circulose every year. That’s enough to make 30 million t-shirts, a breakthrough for the fashion industry.