Levi Strauss & Co (LS&Co) has said it will cut thousands of chemicals from its supply chain and slash the time it takes to finish jeans by using lasers.
The company said it was introducing a new "end-to-end digital platform" that uses computer design and laser etching to replace traditional hand finishing to create worn, faded design elements on denim.
"Digitisation enables a responsive and sustainable supply chain at an unparalleled scale," said LS&Co.
Using lasers the finishing time is cut from two to three pairs per hour to 90 seconds per garment, followed by a final wash cycle.
The system will allow for "on-demand and even hyper-local production capabilities", reducing lead times on products from "more than six months to as fast as weeks or days in some cases". Known as Project F.L.X (future-led execution), it will also reduce textile waste and water use.
LS&Co aims to have the new process rolled out by 2020. The system will also contribute to the firm's commitment to eradicate the discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020 by cutting the number of chemicals used in finishing "from thousands to a few dozen".
Liz O’Neill, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer for LS&Co, said: “With this new model, we can deliver the authentic and iconic products we’re known for in an incredibly responsive and responsible way.
“The advanced imaging capability is a game-changer for us and something that has eluded our industry for years. Key steps in the process are now concentrated into a digital file, eliminating time and waste.”
Chip Bergh, president and CEO of LS&Co, said: “Our goal was to tackle two predominant industry challenges — being able to respond quickly to changing consumer trends while making the manufacturing process more sustainable.
“We are addressing both agility and sustainability without compromising the authenticity our consumers expect from us. This is the future of jeans manufacturing, and LS&Co is well-positioned to lead the way.”