Levi Strauss & Co. is always ahead of the game when it comes to innovation. The denim pioneer recently introduced a new digitizing technique, which uses lasers to ethically create designs of its jeans without using any harmful chemicals or intensive manual labor. It means your future pair of Levi’s jeans will be more digitized and eco-friendly.
Known as Project F.L.X. (future-led execution), this new operating model will usher denim finishing into the digital era. Not only this new technique will cut out intensive labor and harmful chemicals, but also will reduce the jeans finishing steps from between 18 to 24 steps to just three.
“Our first step in the new process is to photograph the jean, and then we take that and illustrate it in a way that the laser can interpret,” says Bart Sights, Levi’s VP in technical innovation. “So what used to happen traditionally 8, 10, 12 minutes with manual applications, we can now execute with the laser in 90 seconds or so.”
For the past 30 years, hand-finishing and a chemical process have been used to create the worn and faded design on denim. This new model will work as an environmental incentive. Levi’s has committed to achieving a “zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020.” The company also says that this laser-based technology will reduce the number of harmful chemicals used in the denim finishing process from thousands to a few dozens.
The lasers will work using infrared light to burn the surface of the fabric to achieve the perfect finishing. To create a prototype of different patterns and finishes, the designers will use a new imaging tool, which lets them tweak colors, and control the design of rips and tears.
This isn’t the first time of using laser technology in clothing. Last year, Adidas allowed customers to design their own sweaters using light scans and laser body scans at a pop-up shop in Berlin. Levi’s is expecting to fully implement its digital platform in 2020.