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The First Circulair 501 Jeans

Levi’s introduces their circular take on their classic 501 style. This time they made their original with organic cotton and post-consumer recycled denim, designed to itself be recyclable. They developed this milestone with their ongoing partnership with Swedish company Renewcell.

levi's 501

The World-Changing Idea

This circular produced pair of Levi’s 501 jeans builds on last year’s release of a collaboration between Renewcell and their Wellthread line on the 502 for men and High Loose for women using the same materials. This launch was named a ‘World-Changing Idea’ by Fast Company. In each case, they’re using a mix of Renewcell’s pioneering circulose fiber, a sustainably sourced viscose made in part from recycled denim, and organic cotton.

levi's 501

The Brand’s Bigger Approach And Brand Strategy

The production of these 501 jeans is part of the brand’s bigger approach and brand strategy of reducing the environmental impacts of their materials. It’s an important part of their buy better and wears longer message and campaign. Their use of renewable and recyclable materials, like circulose and certified organic cotton, is an important part of a broader holistic approach to circularity. Every material component going into their circular 501 jeans was developed and selected to align with a strict single-fiber strategy that enables efficient recycling at the end of the jean’s useful life.

In the circular 501 jeans, they replaced parts that were normally made with synthetic fibers, like polyester pocketing, threads, labels, and interfacing, with 100% cotton alternatives. They’ve removed pollutive elements that would otherwise disrupt the cotton recovery process. The result is a new pair of jeans made from old jeans that are designed with the potential to be re-made into new jeans, again and again.

levi's 501

levi's 501

Paul Dillinger, VP Of Design Innovation At Levi’s

“Last year’s Wellthread™ collaboration with Renewcell showed that this could be done, that we could find man-made cellulosic fiber made with recycled denim that was strong enough and durable enough to meet our quality standards. That hadn’t been possible before with mechanically recycled denim,” says Paul Dillinger, VP of Design Innovation.

Now were taking that innovation and applying it to what could rightly be called the most iconic garment in all of apparel, the 501®, which shows how serious we are about moving in the direction of circularity. Not only will our circular 501® jeans be designed to stand the test of time, just as they always have been, but theyll also be able to find a second, third or fourth life as new garments.” 

levi's 501

levi's 501


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Written by Wouter Munnichs
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine, I'm working as a freelance denim specialist for the industry. Titled as 'Denim Influencer 2020' by Rivet 50. Celebrated my 10th anniversary with Long John in 2021.