On July 21st, Levi’s® launches its most sustainable jean ever, a garment made with organic cotton and Circulose®, a breakthrough material made from worn-out jeans. Available as part of the Levi’s® Wellthread™ line in the 502 for men and High Loose for women, this jean represents more than five years of research in circular denim design.

This unique collaboration between Levi’s® Wellthread™, the laboratory to test and validate sustainability ideas through research & development, and re:newcell, the innovators behind Circulose®, marks a significant milestone in the fashion industry’s transition to circularity. It’s like-for-like fiber input means the garment can itself be recycled through an existing chemical recycling processes.

“Bringing fashion full circle, denim-to-denim, together with a brand as iconic as Levi’s® is a dream come true. To make fashion sustainable, it’s important to show people that a material like Circulose® is a real alternative to virgin cotton both in performance and style. I can’t think of a better proof than putting truly circular Levi’s® 502’s into stores worldwide” says Patrik Lundström, CEO of re:newcell.

To make Circulose®, re:newcell repurposes discarded cotton textiles, such as worn-out denim jeans, through a process akin to recycling paper. The incoming waste fabrics are broken down using water. The color is then stripped from these materials using an eco-friendly bleach. After any synthetic fibers are removed from the mix, the slurry-like mixture is dried and the excess water is extracted, leaving behind a sheet of Circulose®. This sheet is then made into viscose fiber which is combined with cotton and woven into a new fabric.

“We want to recycle Levi’s jeans in a way that doesn’t diminish their quality. By collaborating with re:newcell, our garment-to-garment recycling takes an important step forward,” notes Una Murphy, Levi’s® Senior Designer for Innovation. “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.”

Designed in a way that maximizes recyclability so it can be regenerated into a new jean again, each part of the jean – trims, thread, etc. – are carefully calibrated to ensure it meets recycling specifications, allowing it to have a second life when it’s worn out.  Innovations like this are what will allow Levi’s®, and the fashion industry, to reduce dependency on virgin materials.  What’s more, Levi’s® and re:newcell were able to successfully put a pair of the Wellthread™ jeans made with Circulose® and organic cotton, sourced from Turkey, through re:newcell’s recovery system and come away with viable material output for future use, demonstrating that this garment is, in fact, fully recyclable and truly circular.

“This is a sustainability challenge that we’ve been wrestling with for years, so it’s really exciting to see an aspirational concept become a familiar pair of Levi’s jeans that consumers can actually buy and wear,” says Paul Dillinger, Levi’s VP of Global Product Innovation. “The fashion industry has long been chasing the potential of the ‘circular economy.’ The jeans we’ve made in collaboration with re:newcell proves that it can be done.”

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 us with an overall lighter carbon footprint.

About the Levi’s® brand

The Levi’s® brand epitomizes classic American style and effortless cool. Since their invention by Levi Strauss & Co. in 1873, Levi’s® jeans have become one of the most recognizable garments of clothing in the world—capturing the imagination and loyalty of people for generations. Today, the Levi’s® brand portfolio continues to evolve through a relentless pioneering and innovative spirit that is unparalleled in the apparel industry. Our range of leading jeanswear and accessories are available in more than 110 countries, allowing individuals around the world to express their personal style. For more information about the Levi’s® brand, its products and stores, please visit levi.com.

For questions and more information on the brand, please contact Molly Hayes, Levi’s Global PR, mhayes@levi.com

About re:newcell

Founded by innovators from Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology in 2012, re:newcell is a multi-award-winning circular fashion company based in Sweden. The company’s vision is to lead the way to a sustainable world by producing high quality products from recycled textiles.

Through its patented process, re:newcell can upcycle cellulosic textile waste, such as cotton and viscose, transforming it into a pristine new material called Circulose®. The company has received investment from fashion companies like H&M and is regularly recognised for its work to make fashion sustainable. Most recently, re:newcell won the Norrsken Impact Award recognising Nordic startups working to solve the world’s greatest challenges and was named a finalist in both Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards 2020 and Draper’s Sustainable Fashion Awards 2020.

For more information, visit www.circulo.se and www.renewcell.com. Follow @circulose on Instagram for regular updates on launches.

For questions, please contact Harald Cavalli-Björkman, CMO of re:newcell at harald.cavalli-bjorkman@renewcell.com or telephone +46705903204