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Levi’s and Outerknown Launch Recycled Cotton Clothing Line

recycled cotton
(Photo: A Wellthread x Outerknown jacket made with recycled cotton. Credit: Levi’s and Outerknown)

Levi’s has teamed up with Outerknown, a sustainable clothing company started by pro surfer Kelly Slater and designer John Moore, to produce a new line from recycled cotton. The men’s clothing for fall/winter 2018 uses Levi’s Wellthread process from both chemical and mechanical recycling.

Called Wellthread x Outerknown, the line includes shirts, jeans, and jackets that use as much recycling as possible, according to the two companies. A quilted trucker jacket, for example, has a multi-colored interior lining made from mechanically recycled cotton. The denim exterior is woven with Tencel x Refibra, a fiber produced with wood sourced from responsibly managed forests and chemically-recycled cotton scraps.

“We created Outerknown to smash the formula — to lift the lid on the traditional supply chain and prove you can actually produce great looking menswear in a sustainable way,” Slater said.

Each piece in the new Wellthread x Outerknown clothing is made with not only waste reduction in mind, but also with the goal of being fully recyclable once they come to the end of their life cycle, the clothing companies say.

Levi Strauss & Co. debuted the Wellthread process, which combines sustainable design, environmental practices, and apparel worker wellbeing several years ago starting with a Dockers collection. The company uses an energy- and water-saving method where garments get dyed to order in the factory rather than at the mill.

The Wellthread premium twill incorporates a unique long-staple cotton yarn that Levi’s indicated can be recycled more easily, even though recycling facilities weren’t widely available at the time. A couple years later, the company expanded their clothing recycling initiative to all their mainline and outlet stores in the United States.

Earlier this year, Levi’s introduced Project FLX, an operating model that replaces labor-intensive manual finishing techniques with an automated digital laser-based system in order to save time to the market as well as cut chemicals from the finishing process. The company plans to implement the model globally over the next two years.


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Levi Strauss & Co.

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