A Bold Sustainability Statement at Sustainable Brands

Levi Strauss & Co.
June 5, 2015

Last year, our CEO Chip Bergh cemented a place in history as the “dirty jeans CEO” with a statement about his washing habits (or lack thereof). Earlier this week, he took the stage at Sustainable Brands 2015 in San Diego, and though he admitted to sporting the infamous unwashed jeans, it wasn’t his laundry habits that got people talking. It was this statement:

“As the CEO of Levi Strauss, I spend all my time on sustainability.”

The comment was made during a Q&A-style discussion with Marc Gunther, editor at large of Guardian Sustainable Business US. He continued by explaining that to him, sustainability is defined broadly:

“My job is to ensure the sustainability of this corporation for the next 162 years. And a result of that, we have to be concerned about the sustainability of our supply chain. We have to be concerned about the sustainability of the environment and we have to be concerned about water because water is going to be a big issue.“

Over the course of their discussion, Chip and Marc covered a variety of topics, ranging from water and the California drought to how we’re building the business case for a supplier program that improves workers’ lives to changes in consumer buying habits.

Here are a few of our favorite quotes from the session:

  • “If every American went from washing their jeans once every two wearings to once every ten, it would save enough water for the city of San Diego for a full year.”
  • “We’ve proven there is business benefit to factory owners to make investments that improve workers lives. For every dollar we invest we’re getting $3-4 in return.”
  • “Consumers are looking for not just value, they’re looking for the values that are behind their products”

Paul Dillinger, our head of global product innovation then took the stage. After making a small clarification on his role: “To be clear, I am a fashion designer,” Paul proceeded to explain how LS&Co. is creating a race to the top in the fashion industry by crafting sustainable products and creating sustainable relationships, like our new partnership with Google.

Video of both Chip’s and Paul’s full remarks is available on the Sustainable Brands 2015 event site.