Sourcing Organic Cotton Direct From Farmers

Levi Strauss & Co.
January 31, 2023

At Levi Strauss & Co., ensuring the future of cotton is vital to our business. Our denim and other products rely on cotton to create the iconic look and feel our consumers have come to expect, which is why we’re working to support organic agricultural practices for cotton farming. LS&Co. joined the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) in 2022 and, as part of OCA’s program, is now partnering with Artistic Milliners’ Milliner Organic project to directly contract organic cotton for our supply chain.

The Milliner Organic project is an organic cotton farming project that aims to promote local ownership for ethical cotton sourcing in Pakistan. The project empowers farmers to switch to organic cotton as a means to support their communities. To date, this initiative has reached 1,600 farmers in the Kohlu district of the Balochistan province of Pakistan, who received non-genetically modified, organic cotton seed as well as training and support to transition their farmland.

“Working with the Milliner Organic project, Levi Strauss & Co. is able to secure organic cotton directly from participating farmers who have the support they need to increase yields and provide for their families and communities,” said Jeffrey Hogue, LS&Co.’s chief sustainability officer. “It is through partnerships made available to us through OCA that we can work together to not only support the longevity of cotton, but also make sure the way we do it best supports the communities where the cotton is being grown.”

Organic cotton farming techniques and training also help mitigate the impacts of climate change. Projects like Milliner Organic are introducing agricultural practices that better support soil health, which is especially important following the 2022 monsoon rains that caused mass flooding across Pakistan. Healthier soil can help draw carbon out of the atmosphere and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, working to support the natural environment these communities need for the future.

“This project is special to us, as not only do we support farmers as they switch to organic cotton farming methods, but we also get to bring innovation and ingenuity to the farming communities,” said Omer Ahmed, managing director, Artistic Milliners. “We connect all players of the supply chain to map our product’s journey from farm to fashion with blockchain-enabled traceability. This level of transparency is vital to raising the bar in collaboration and fostering strong partnerships.”

A portion of the organic cotton sourced from Milliner Organic farms will flow directly into our supply chain beginning after the 2022 harvest season. Although it will make up a small portion of our overall material volume, it will allow our teams to learn firsthand about sourcing organic cotton through a more direct method, which can in turn help inform future efforts. This cotton is accredited by the Control Union Pakistan according to global organic standards and is supported by the Department of Agriculture Extension, the Government of Balochistan and World Wildlife Fund Pakistan to increase access to organic cotton.