Friday, September 22, 2006

How Green Are My Jeans

How Green Are My Blue JeansLevi Strauss will debut more than a new CEO when current COO John Anderson takes over in November. The company will also introduce Eco jeans, its first organic-cotton line. The target customers: upscale shoppers, the kind of eco-consumers for whom price ($250) will be less important than the tag it's printed on (recycled paper, soy ink).Levi's will launch the naturally dyed "green" jeans, handcrafted in the U.S., in select Levi's stores. In early 2007 the company will roll out cheaper versions -- $65 to $80 -- in department stores, followed by jeans costing $40 to $60 in the fall. The cotton used in those styles (to be made "all over the world," according to spokeswoman Amy Jasmer) will not be as pure as that used in the initial Eco line, says Robert Hanson, Levi's U.S. brand president. Organic cotton, he says, is still too rare to be used alone in mass amounts of clothing, hence the high cost of the first Eco batch.Why dress in organic denim? After all, synthetic threads and dyes don't pose the same potential health risks as pesticides in foods, says Rebecca Calahan Klein, president of the nonprofit advocacy group Organic Exchange. For eco-conscious customers, it may just be a matter of supporting farmers who grow pesticide-free crops. (The USDA hasn't set an organic clothing standard, although cotton is a crop that could qualify.) Meanwhile, the trend is getting hot. According to Organic Exchange, demand for organic cotton by clothing makers is increasing at an annual rate of 93%.

By Reena Jana Business Week 9/18/2006

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