Stop Washing Jeans, Levi CEO Chip Bergh Tells Customers, but Why?

Thursday, 22 May 2014 07:16 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Stop washing your jeans, advises Levi's CEO Chip Bergh. Don't just reduce the number of washes, never wash them.

"These jeans have yet to see a washing machine," Bergh said of the pair he wore on stage at Fortune magazine's Brainstorm Green conference in Laguna Niguel, California, on Tuesday. He says he's owned the jeans for years and has "yet to get a skin disease."

Bergh's advice focuses on the consumer side of his product's sustainability amidst a years-long effort to make Levi Strauss and Co. more green on the manufacturing side as well. Washing jeans simply ruins the shape and color of them, Bergh said.

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Years ago, Levi's introduced its "Waterless" line of jeans, which dramatically reduced the amount of water used in the dying process. pointed out that, with the new pronouncement, you can keep up that waterless mantra at home as well, by keeping your jeans away from the washing machine.

The company has also introduced a small collection of Dockers under its new "Wellthread" initiative, which uses less energy, less water, and — importantly — is manufactured in plants where worker well-being meets higher standards. For now, the Wellthread line is still considered to be in the experimental phase, and it's available online only.

"If you buy [our jeans] they will last a lot longer than most people's waistlines will," Bergh continued during his talk. "We are the ultimate in sustainable apparel."

According to ABC News, Tommy Hilfiger told reporters last year, "I never wash my Levi’s."

Bergh's recent speech reinforced the no-wash policy as one idiosyncrasy of high fashion: "If you talk to real denim aficionados, they tell you don’t wash your blue jeans."

Many took to Twitter following the pronouncement to tell the world they were too grossed out to do something like never wash their clothes, including "Good Morning America" anchor Lara Spencer.

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