Levi Strauss & Co. continues to drive the apparel industry towards a more sustainable, circular model, announcing that it has awarded more than $350,000 grants to the inaugural class of its LS&Co. Collaboratory fellowship program. The funding will go towards new approaches and innovations in the apparel supply chain.
The Collaboratory is an annual fellowship program for entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs who see design and sustainability as inextricably linked and are working to create a more sustainable apparel industry. Each year the program focuses on different social and environmental challenges facing the industry, with this year’s inaugural class focusing on water issues.
Following the Collaboratory workshop weekend at LS&Co.’s Eureka Innovation Lab, fellows submitted project proposals for reducing water usage or improving water quality with the opportunity to receive funding from LS&Co. to implement their solutions. Projects include expanding a natural indigo dyeing facility, creating products that are less water-intensive and making wastewater treatment solutions more accessible to small artisan workshops.
“Working with LS&Co. changed how we look at innovation by educating and challenging our team to think in a more holistic way about our impact,” said Kevin McCracken, co-founder of Social Imprints and a Collaboratory fellow. “With access to funding and mentorship from the most innovative team in the apparel industry, we have an opportunity to make a real difference in what we do and how we produce products.”
“To have the support of the entire team at an iconic brand and industry stalwart like LS&Co. makes me believe that we can truly make a difference in the apparel industry,” added Kavita Parmar, founder and creative director of IOU Project and another Collaboratory Fellow.
Through the framework of the Collaboratory, fellows had the opportunity to work alongside LS&Co. leaders, employee mentors and sustainability and apparel industry experts to develop concrete, tangible plans for reducing their organizations' water footprint.
“We were honored to bring together the next generation of global leaders to share ideas, aspirations and innovations for achieving a common goal of accelerating the sustainability of the apparel industry,” said Paul Dillinger, VP and Head of Global Product Innovation for LS&Co. “We look forward to seeing the Collaboratory fellows’ water impact solutions come to life and inspire a future of empowered sustainable apparel makers.”