How do you deliver high-quality, durable denim styles to consumers when and where they want them while improving and modernizing the manufacturing process for the 21st century?
Welcome to the future of jeans manufacturing, where Levi Strauss & Co. is leading the way.
Project F.L.X. (future-led execution) is a new operating model that ushers denim finishing into the digital era. It digitizes denim finish design and enables a responsive and sustainable supply chain at an unparalleled scale. By replacing manual techniques and automating the jeans finishing process, Project F.L.X. radically reduces time to market — and puts us on a path to eliminate thousands of chemical formulations from jeans finishing. In short, Project F.L.X. delivers a cleaner jean that fully adheres to the Levi’s® standards of craftsmanship, quality and authenticity.
“We believe it is possible to be both agile and sustainable without compromising the authenticity our consumers expect from us,” said Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co.
Specifically, Project F.L.X. enables us to:
- Replace manual techniques and automate the time-consuming, labor-intensive and chemical-reliant process of hand-finishing: For more than 30 years, the apparel industry has used hand-finishing to accentuate worn, faded design elements on denim. By using lasers in new ways, finishing time is cut dramatically – from two to three pairs per hour to 90 seconds per garment, followed by a final wash cycle.
- Create “photo-real” finished garments digitally: By digitizing the finish design and development process, LS&Co. designers can now create finishes and final garments with a revolutionary new imaging tool. Built by LS&Co., this advanced imaging capability cuts finishing design and development time in half (from months to weeks and sometimes days) and is so accurate the digital files can be sent directly to the vendor and quickly scaled to mass manufacturing.
- Take advantage of on-demand and even hyper-local production capabilities: By delaying decisions on final products until much later in the process, LS&Co. can radically reduce its lead times from more than six months to as fast as weeks or days in some cases. This is made possible by staging garments that await their on-demand finish order closer to the market.
- Eliminate thousands of chemical formulations from its supply chain: LS&Co. plans to reduce the total number of chemical formulations used in its finishing process from thousands to a few dozen. This is a major step forward in the company’s commitment to achieving zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020 and furthers its goal of pioneering more sustainable apparel.
“With this new model, we can deliver the authentic and iconic products we’re known for in an incredibly responsive and responsible way,” said Liz O’Neill, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer for Levi Strauss & Co. “The advanced imaging capability is a game-changer for us, and something that has eluded our industry for years.”
Born in Eureka
Project F.L.X. was built in-house at LS&Co.’s Eureka Innovation Lab by a team of designers, developers, chemists and engineers passionate about revolutionizing the apparel industry to better meet consumer needs while also doing right by the planet and the people who work in the apparel supply chain. A number of LS&Co. team members were retrained and reskilled in software development and laser operations. Retraining will be a key tenet as this new model rolls out globally.
To help unlock the benefits of more sophisticated laser technology, LS&Co. turned to long-standing partner Jeanologia, a leader in eco-efficient solutions for fabric and garment finishing. Since 1993, Jeanologia operated with the ambition of advancing sustainable apparel manufacturing by delivering disruptive technologies, including ozone, laser and e-flow finishing systems. The company’s like-minded focus on scalability was essential to supporting LS&Co.’s end-to-end, transformative vision.
LS&Co. has begun piloting Project F.L.X. with select vendors and retail partners and will roll it out across its supply chain in a phased approach over the next two years.
“One of the biggest challenges we face as an industry is ensuring we have the right products at the right time as well as the ability to respond to our customers’ evolving needs with speed,” said Paige Thomas, Executive Vice President and General Merchandise Manager for Men’s and Kid’s at Nordstrom Inc. “The team at Levi’s is working towards this challenge by contributing to the future of the apparel industry as one that’s both agile and uncompromising on quality, while improving sustainability. We’re excited to be part of it.”
Read the full press release here.