Levi Strauss & Co. has been innovating since its birth in 1873. Back then, Mr. Strauss saw a business opportunity open up when miners out in the western states in the U.S. needed sturdy pants that would hold up under rigorous and demanding conditions. Together with a tailor called Jacob Davis, he patented and started manufacturing the riveted work clothing made of blue denim ("For Men Who Toil") that today has evolved into the globally ubiquitous wardrobe item we know as blue jeans.
Along the way, the jeans company became the world's largest manufacturer of brand-name apparel, with an extensive web of international suppliers and hundreds of manufacturing contractors, of whom a considerable proportion are in Asia.
So when Levi Strauss decided to examine the environmental impact of its operations, as one of the first in the garment industry, it did not pass unnoticed. The effects could be felt around the world. By 2006, the company had several programs in place to address environmental impacts associated with the production of its products and operation of its facilities. It then conducted a life-cycle assessment of two of its core products.