GoodGuide Names Levi’s Top Jeans Brand

The GoodGuide has named Levi Strauss & Co (Levi’s) as the Top Jeans Brand.  GoodGuide rates companies on both environmental and society assessments, with Levi’s receiving the highest score overall score of 7.4 out of 10.  What does the score mean, and how does the Levi’s rating relate to the rest of the industry?

Levi’s has been around for more than a century, beginning business in 1873.  Although there may have been some bumps along the road, Levi’s has proved to have staying power in terms of company longevity.  Part of that is due to the ability to adapt.  And adapting it is, leading the way for jean apparel in terms of sustainability.

The GoodGuide rated 51 Jeans brands, with a methodology taking account both environmental assessment and a social assessment.  Levi’s took top honors over all the brands rated.

The environmental assessment takes into account not only sustainable product design and green production practices, but also educating consumers on impacts of its brand and a commitment to transparency of its operations and products.

One example of a Levi’s environmental improvements was its decision to do an LCA on a typical pair of 501® jeans and investigate water use along the value chain. “As a company, LS&Co. is making strides in these key areas – from supporting more sustainable ways to grow cotton to monitoring how suppliers use water in the manufacturing process.”

In terms of consumer education, Levi’s created the “Care Tag for Our Planet” campaign.  Usually the care tags include washing and drying instructions.  Levi’s care instructions take the planet into account, suggesting washing in cold water and line drying when possible.  But the unique aspect is in the last item.  After you have made use and reuse of your jeans, the care tag suggests users donate worn clothes to Goodwill.

The social assessment includes indicators of treatment of its workers, such as fair pay and decent working conditions.  Responsible purchasing policies area also taken into account.  Similar to the environmental component, a commitment to transparency in terms of suppliers and labor or working conditions is also assessed.

A code of conduct for manufacturing suppliers was put in place by Levi’s, “setting standards and addressing the important issues of child labor, forced labor, disciplinary practices, working hours, wages and benefits, freedom of association, discrimination as well as health and safety.”

With an environmental score of 7.9 out of 10, a societal score of 7.0 out of 10, and an overall score of 7.4 out of 10, Levi’s was number one on the top 5 list of brands including Prana, H&M, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.  In comparison, bottom rated jean brands consist of of Polo, RLX, American Living, Ralph Lauren, and Hollister.

Levi’s has proven to be a sustainable company in terms of its longevity.  Combine that with the GoodGuide top honors of environmental and societal sustainability, we can look forward to not only another 100 years, but perhaps a more sustainable 100 years from Levi’s.

Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

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