by Stephen Garner

Dockers brand has launched a special collection highlighting the 10-year anniversary of Levi Strauss & Co.’s (LS&Co.) Water<Less techniques, which aims to significantly reduce water use in production – specifically the dyeing and finishing processes – and has helped save more than 3.5 billion liters of water since its introduction in 2010.

The Dockers 10 Year Water<Less collection features the brand’s “Alpha Khakis” and an assortment of tops in a rich color range. While 47 percent of Dockers’ current line is already produced with Water<Less methods, this head-to-toe collection is special. Each piece has a washed look creating a worn-in vibe while saving water in the process. In addition, the collection’s khakis feature internal trim guides to extend the life of the pants as they wear by allowing an easy transition from full-length khakis into crops or shorts.

The Water<Less techniques developed by LS&Co., including specialized dye methods and multiple garment finishing recipes, can reduce the amount of water normally used in the garment finishing process by as much as 96 percent. Since the introduction of Water<Less in 2010, there have been 3.5 billion liters saved of water and nearly 5 billion liters of water recycled. And in the first half of 2020, Dockers saved over 20 million liters of water in the finishing stages of production.

The Dockers 10 Year Water<Less collection is in line with the Water Action Strategy that LS&Co. announced in August 2019. This strategy, an evolution in LS&Co.’s water conservation efforts, is redefining what successful water stewardship in manufacturing looks like by focusing reduction efforts where they are needed most. The strategy includes a commitment to halving water use in manufacturing in water-stressed areas by 2025.

Water conservation is just one part of the larger sustainability puzzle, which has undeniably come to the forefront of fashion in recent years, and in this first half of 2020. The environmental impacts of COVID-19 have been significant – cleaner water and air quality in some of the most polluted cities in the world, and unfortunately, an increase in litter, particularly plastic bags, gloves, and single-use products. There is still a lot of uncertainty and work to do to support our communities and address the inequities that COVID-19 has highlighted, but it has also been made clear just how much our human habits impact the environment. Both as individuals and as brands like Dockers, we’ve been called on to be more thoughtful about where we make a difference and to make more of a difference.

“This year has not gone the way we expected, and it’s been a heavy year for everyone around the world,” said Nick Rendic, global head of design. “It is now more important than ever to focus our efforts on reducing our environmental impact through programs like Water<Less and other innovations. We will continue to innovate and design at the intersection of sustainability and style because that’s what feels right for the future of Dockers products and what best represents our values.”

“A global pandemic is not the way we want to see harmful environmental impact be reduced,” added Lauren Johnson, head of global marketing. “The world has been devastated by this, but we’ve seen what’s possible when individual action leads to collective impact. And as a clothing brand, water conservation is one of the first ways we can make a difference. Right now, our operational objectives are high-quality products that offer confidence and style, accomplished through sustainable production methods. We will continue to challenge our perspective and our commitment to exploring new ways of improving our products and our footprint.”

In addition to Water<Less techniques, Dockers has established sustainability programs with materials from organic cotton farms, and recycled cotton suppliers, and has continued partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative, the largest cotton sustainability program in the world. The brand has committed to 100 percent sustainably sourced cotton in the near future.

In another move to reduce the use of natural resources and adopt alternatives to virgin raw materials, Dockers will introduce select products with performance polyester fibers recycled from plastic bottles in fall 2020. Looking at 2021, the brand is exploring the possibilities of incorporating cottonized hemp into the mainline, which requires less water and fewer pesticides to grow.