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Levi's CEO: Why Your Jeans Should Never See the Inside of a Washing Machine

For related articles and information, please visit OCA's Clothes For a Change page.

In a recent public talk about Levi Strauss & Co.'s commitment to sustainability, I shocked the crowd by admitting that the Levi's jeans I was wearing that day "hadn't seen the inside of a washing machine" - and the jeans were more than a year old. The headline became "Levi's CEO says 'Never Wash Your Jeans,'" (which, for the record, is not exactly what I said but it made a great headline). The news created a hot debate and immediately went viral, receiving media coverage from outlets around the world. Now, everywhere I go, the first thing people say to me is "oh, you're the guy who never washes his jeans!"

How to take care of your very best denim has been a subject of debate for decades, particularly amongst denim aficionados. My point at the conference, which by the way was all about sustainability, was to challenge the mindset that we need to throw everything into the washing machine after one or two wearings. I made this provocative statement because I believe strongly in what our brands stand for: quality, durability and lasting products made sustainably. I also said it because I believe we don't need to wash jeans as often as most people think we do. (Now, to be fair, these were also my very best pair of Levi's, which I normally wear to the office - not for playing soccer in the park with my daughter!)

One of the things that attracted me to the big job at LS&Co. was the company's longstanding commitment to doing the right thing and reputation for making clothing responsibly. I was struck from my first interview that this is a company that's always chosen the harder right over the easier wrong. And I'm inspired each day to be part of shaping its future.