Levi Strauss & Co. Collaboratory

Levi Strauss & Co. Funds Future Apparel Leaders

Levi Strauss & Co.
September 26, 2019

Levi Strauss & Co. is granting more than $350,000 to its second class of LS&Co. Collaboratory fellows who are working to create a more sustainable apparel industry.

Projects include rescuing excess fabrics to create beautiful clothes designed by award-winning sustainable designers; a data platform for garment factories and textile waste recyclers that enables end-to-end trading and tracing; and reinventing the way goods are sent and received.

The Collaboratory is a 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. The program tackles different social and environmental sustainability challenges facing the industry, with this year’s class focused on an area that is critically important to the future of the apparel industry and the planet – climate change.

As part of the program, fellows from around the world attended a weekend workshop at LS&Co.’s Eureka Innovation Lab last year. They had the unique opportunity to work through ideas and challenges with LS&Co. leaders and employee mentors, along with sustainability and apparel industry experts, to develop concrete, tangible plans for reducing their organization’s water footprint.

Following the Collaboratory workshop weekend, fellows submitted project proposals with the opportunity to receive funding from LS&Co. to implement their solutions. The ideas selected represent some of the boldest, leading-edge ideas from leaders who represent the future of the apparel industry. This year’s recipients are:

Christina Dean, Co-Founder & CEO of The R Collective (Hong Kong) 

The R Collective is an upcycled fashion brand that rescues other brands’ excess fabrics to create beautiful clothes designed by award-winning sustainable designers – money raised goes to Hong Kong charity Redress

Ali El Idrissi, Founder & CEO of UpChoose (San Francisco, CA) 

UpChoose is a sustainable consumption platform that provides a circular baby wardrobe solution where new parents receive curated sets of organic clothing essentials at each phase of a baby’s growth and sends them back after use. 

Ashley Etling, CEO & Co-Founder of LimeLoop (Emeryville, CA) 

LimeLoop is reinventing the way goods are sent and received via a full-circle shipper solution and sensor-driven platform. 

The company put so much thought and consideration into the structure and programming of the Collaboratory. I came away from my time at the Eureka Lab feeling so inspired, along with a tribe of people with the same goal; to push forward with actionable climate crisis solutions.” – Amanda Grogan, founder of Make It Black.

Amanda Grogan, Founder of Make It Black (New York, NY)

Make It Black is an overdye re-manufacturer that collaborates with brands to transform pre- and post-consumer waste clothing into new by making it black. Make It Black is developing a circular garment overdye technology. 

Eleazar Guevara, Co-Founder of Novabori (Tlaxcala, Mexico) 

Novabori works with brands to develop eco-friendly fabrics from recycled materials such as cotton, polyester, wool, and acrylics. 

Molly Hemstreet, Co-Founder, The Industrial Commons/Opportunity Threads (Morganton, NC) 

The Industrial Commons provides educational tools for frontline textile workers responsible for implementing the local circular economy. This project is calling special attention to the importance of workers’ role in the circular economy and engaging them in the tool development process.  

Marianne Hughes, Founder and CEO of GetKno (London, England) 

GetKno is the world’s first real-time transparency platform – for brands, factories and workers. They verify worker happiness and pay, and give workers a voice 24/7. 

Ryan Huston, Founder & General Manager of Huston Textile Company (Mather, CA) 

Family-owned and operated business since 2013, Huston Textile makes high-quality fabrics sourced from domestic sustainable, organic, and climate beneficial fibers. 

Isaac Nichelson, Co-Founder of Circular Systems (Los Angeles, CA) 

Circular Systems is a new materials startup that is developing innovative circular and regenerative technologies. 

Ann Runnel, Founder of Reverse Resources (Talinn, Estonia) 

Reverse Resources has built a software-as-a-service platform for garment factories and textile waste recyclers to trade and trace waste end-to-end.  

Kushagra Srivastava, CEO of Chakr Innovation (Gurgaon, India) 

Chakr Innovation developed a technology to capture particulate matter emissions from diesel generators and convert it into inks and paints. 

Mitigating climate change and transitioning to a low-carbon, more circular future are vital to the health and well-being of the people who wear and make our products, and the future supply of raw materials needed to make those products. For those reasons, LS&Co. released its Climate Action Strategy in 2018, setting very ambitious carbon emissions reduction targets based on a 1.5-degree temperature rise scenario.

“We all know how urgently our industry, and our planet, need real solutions to the challenges presented by climate change, so we are proud to support ideas and projects that can help get us closer to where we need to be,” said Paul Dillinger, vice president of global product innovation.