Founded in 1853, Levi Strauss opened a wholesale dry goods business in San Francisco that became known as Levi Strauss & Co. Seeing a need for work pants that could hold up under rougher conditions, he and Jacob Davis, a tailor, created the first jean. In 1873, they received a U.S. patent for “waist overalls” with metal rivets at points of strain. The first product line designated by the lot number “501” was created in 1890.
Today we are one of the world’s largest brand-name apparel companies and a global leader in jeanswear. We design and market jeans, casual wear and related accessories for men, women, and children under the Levi’s®, Dockers®, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co.™ and Denizen® brands.
We source our products primarily from independent contract manufacturers located in approximately 26 countries around the world. No single country represents more than 20 percent of our production. We require all third-party contractors and subcontractors who manufacture or finish products for us to comply with our code of conduct relating to supplier working conditions as well as environmental and employment practices. In addition, we require our licensees to ensure that their manufacturers comply with our standards.
Sustainability is literally woven into everything we do. It is how we do business and how we show up in the world.
We take responsibility for the human and environmental footprint of our products and operations, doing right by the places where we live and work, and innovating around the best possible practices and policies for us, our industry, and the planet.
Our profits through principles approach to business, rooted in our legacy, is what guides us. It’s why we integrated factories in the American south before the Civil Rights Act and why we established the first comprehensive labor standards of any multinational company. We have implemented water-saving technologies, an industry-leading climate strategy, Worker Well-being initiatives, and new fiber and fabric programs, among other efforts. And we are not content just influencing our own operations; we have to innovate to help address harmful aspects of the apparel industry as a whole.
The design phase of our process offers huge potential to reduce our impact in other areas.
While design has a limited effect on our environmental footprint, we view both our design process and our business models as powerful opportunities to ensure sustainability at every other stage of the life cycle of our products – from the choice of materials to manufacturing to consideration of how the garments will be used and reused.
Our products are the sum of their materials, so where they come from matters.
Roughly 91 percent of our products are cotton-based, so the sustainability of our cotton supply is critical to our business. We don’t grow cotton ourselves, but given how much we use, we have a stake in how that cotton is grown and how it impacts the places where it is planted.
We work with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and other partners to help farmers grow cotton more sustainably, reducing water and chemical use and increasing yields. We’re committed to using 100 percent more sustainable cotton from BCI growers, organic cotton farms, or recycled cotton suppliers by 2020, and we are well on our way to making it happen.
We think about other natural fibers and synthetics in the same way, striving to source responsibly, with the smallest possible footprint, and looking to innovate wherever possible to introduce more sustainable fabrics and fiber strategies into our supply chain.
How we make our products is just as important as what we make, so we consider our impact at every step.
More than 165 years ago, we created the blue jean as a response to the people’s need for pants durable enough to withstand the toll of prospecting in the California hills. Today, we manufacture our products with the same responsive spirit. As a company with a global supply chain, however, it’s not just consumers we need to respond to, but also the people who make the garments, the communities in which they are assembled, and the resources of this planet that we all share.
Every step matters – our Terms of Engagement, the water we use (and increasingly recycle and reuse), the chemicals we keep in and out of our supply chain, the people who assemble our products and the processes that determine our carbon footprint. Shaped by data and driven by innovation, we are adapting at every step of the manufacturing process to make it more sustainable, and sharing what we learn with others to catalyze systemic change across the apparel industry.
This is how we respond to what’s needed today – and build the strongest company for the long term.
USE & REUSE - Driving towards true circularity once the product is in stores or in the hands of consumers.
For nearly 150 years, we’ve designed durable, quality products and we are invested in the extension of their life span.
Consumer use and disposal accounts for 23 percent of the total water used, and up to 40 percent of the climate impact during the life cycle of a pair of jeans. Disposal is also a major issue; across the industry, over half of all garments made annually are burned or buried within one year. That has to change.
That’s why we’ve made it a priority to educate consumers on how they can extend the life span of their clothing – like washing jeans less often or by getting them repaired and reinforced – and how and where they can donate and recycle anything they’re no longer wearing.
We created the first product tag, Care Tag for Our Planet, which offers tips on how to best preserve your clothing. We also offer Levi’s® Authorized Vintage, the most authentic, everlasting vintage pre-owned or restored items on the market. Additionally, we work with Blue Jeans Go Green in the U.S. and Canada, and other organizations in different countries to collect used clothing. And we are increasingly designing products that are suitable for true circularity – with 100 percent recyclable materials – from the outset.
OUR VALUES IN ACTION
We put our profits, people and products to work in more than 100 countries to champion equality, support vulnerable communities and build a more sustainable future for our planet. Our values – empathy, originality, integrity and courage – guide every decision we make and every action we take.
We have been sharing our profits with the community since Levi Strauss founded the company in 1853. Today, we invest a portion of our annual earnings back into the communities we serve. We make an outsized impact by taking bold stands on social issues that align with our values.
The right to vote is a basic tenet of democracy, and one that is too often ignored. We are actively involved in efforts to increase voter engagement. We work with organizations that register voters, get-out-the-vote during elections and help ensure that all Americans who want to cast a ballot are able to do so.We give employees paid time off to vote and connect them with voter engagement volunteer opportunities.
LS&Co. has pledged ongoing support for gun violence prevention by rallying the gun violence in the U.S.business community and advocating for gun safety measures. We also established the Safer Tomorrow Fund to support nonprofits and youth activists working to end gun violence in the U.S.
We embrace responsible environmental practices across the company, and we’re dedicated to enabling changemakers both inside and outside the industry who are equally passionate about the environment. Among the actions we take: convening apparel entrepreneurs as part of the LS&Co. Collaboratory, and training our employees to be effective advocates for responsible water stewardship and combatting climate change.
LS&Co. has long been, and will continue to be, vocal supporters of equality and non-discrimination. We were the first Fortune 500 company to extend health benefits to domestic partners and have continued to use our voice to advocate for an equitable society for all.
Our company culture empowers employees to take an active role in their communities and become agents of positive change, using their voices and volunteering their time to make a difference on the issues that matter most to them.
We seek to inform and engage employees on important issues, and connect them with opportunities to get involved and work toward solutions.
We create opportunities for our employees to better understand the realities of our global supply chain – both the challenges and the opportunities. Employees are encouraged to apply for the LS&Co. Service Corps, a week-long volunteer immersion program that visits a factory for a week to learn about our Worker Well-being programs and participate in community service projects.
We help our employees connect with the causes they care about through our annual Community Day of service, matching charitable giving and volunteer time up to $2,000 per year and providing paid time off to be active citizens in their communities.
We train our employees to be effective advocates for the causes they care about – whether it’s responsible water stewardship, women’s rights and equality, refugees or climate change.
Our product donations support the needs of communities around the world in times of crisis.
“We believe giving back never goes out of style.”
Unlabeled is a community of empowered LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies all over Europe (and a little bit of Asia) who work to ensure people – inside and out of Levi Strauss Europe – are valued for their contributions and as their authentic selves.
We recognise that Europe contains many cultures and mindsets, which vary in their support for LGBTQ+ inclusion. Our aim is to ensure that every employee who joins LS&Co. feels confident being themselves at work.
The Unlabeled logo represents how we build bridges. Put two people at either side of the elided un, and they will see the same thing – while maintaining their own perspectives. The best we can do is see each other as we are, and accept each other for who we are. We are more than our labels.
We believe … Clothes and how they’re made can make a difference.