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The CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., Chip Bergh, discussed fashion and sustainability at Fortune's Brainstorm Green conference on Tuesday, claiming that jeans do not need to be washed; the pair he donned during the conference, he said, had "yet to see a washing machine" in the past year. And who are we to doubt the messiah of boot cut? After all, Tuesday marks the 141st birthday of Levi's 501 jeans.
"We are the ultimate in sustainable apparel," Bergh said. "If you buy [our jeans] they will last a lot longer than most people's waistlines will."
As part of its dedication to sustainable fashion, Levi's boasted a new line of "Wellthread" products with fabrics that are easier to recycle and that will use less energy and water. The clothing is currently only available in Europe and online in the United States.
Levi's is also producing a line of denim called "Waterless," which uses significantly less water in the jean production process — something you can apparently continue yourself by skipping the rinse cycle once you bring the jeans home. (According to several websites about more than 2,500 gallons of water are used per pair of jeans.)
Bergh's comments regarding laundry are nothing new. Levi's has harped on the "no wash" method for years, sparking a fad of freezing jeans (yes, like in the freezer) to cut down on bacteria growth.
Naysayers claim Levi's freezer method is simply a short-term solution that the brand is using to save its image, not necessarily your hygiene. A Gizmodo article from 2011 debunks the concept.
While some of your jeans' germs might not survive the freezer, some will, because they're hardy like that. They mostly come from you, and thrive at body temperature. So when you put on your frozen jeans and your warm body heats up those chilly germs (Cray says it only takes one survivor), they will repopulate and have a microbial party in your pants.
Ew. But Gizmodo did find that raw denim was the one exception, using less water both in the production process and requiring fewer washes overall. Of course, you always have the alternative of sticking to jeggings. [Mashable]