Levi's: Durability and Sustainability

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When Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis stitched the first pair of blue jeans in 1873, they produced a garment capable of surviving the grueling conditions of Gold Rush-era miners.

The distinguishing feature were the rivets placed at the point of maximum strain at the seams of the denim. The same rivets are still prominent features of Levi's jeans today. This value of durability is stitched into every pair of Levi's jeans.

Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis knew that the rivets were special, which is why they applied for a patent. The patent wasn't a part of a sustainability program or an effort to comply with a regulation, it was a response to a request from a customer to make a pair of pants that would not fall apart.

Today, the value of durability is lost upon most product manufacturers. Americans alone buy over 100 billion garments each year. And the average garment is used only 7 times before being discarded.

When the first pair of Levi's jeans were made, the idea that you'd have more than one pair of work pants would have been novel.

This commitment to durability - the precursor to sustainability - is now core to the operating DNA of Levi's.

Levi's was one of the first apparel companies to require that their factories comply with universal workplace standards. Levi's actively embraced water conservation efforts, encouraging people to line-dry their jeans in order to make them last longer.

They later made headlines when they told customers that putting jeans in the freezer works just fine as an alternative to washing well-worn jeans. 

It's no secret that young Americans expect the products that they buy to be made in a socially- and environmentally-conscious fashion. By committing itself to durability, Levi's has set the standard for sustainability for over a century.