by Brian Lipton

levi straussSan Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co is granting more than $350,000 to the inaugural class of LS&Co. Collaboratory fellows who are working to create a more sustainable apparel industry. The funding will go towards new approaches and innovations in the apparel supply chain. Projects include expanding a natural indigo dyeing facility, creating products that are less water-intensive and making wastewater treatment solutions more accessible to small artisan workshops.

Following the Collaboratory workshop weekend held at LS&Co.’s Eureka Innovation Lab, fellows submitted project proposals for reducing water usage or improving water quality 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.

“Working with LS&Co. changed how we look at innovation by educating and challenging our team to think in a more holistic way about our impact,” said Kevin McCracken, co-founder of Social Imprints and a Collaboratory fellow. “With access to funding and mentorship from the most innovative team in the apparel industry, we have an opportunity to make a real difference in what we do and how we produce products.”

“To have the support of the entire team at an iconic brand and industry stalwart like LS&Co. makes me believe that we can truly make a difference in the apparel industry,” added Kavita Parmar, founder and creative director at the IOU Project and another Collaboratory fellow. “Water is the biggest challenge we face globally in the coming decades and our industry is one of the biggest users. To work together and take a shot at changing the course of our future is exciting and fills me with optimism.”

“We were honored to bring together the next generation of global leaders to share ideas, aspirations and innovations for achieving a common goal of accelerating the sustainability of the apparel industry,” said Paul Dillinger, vice president and head of global product innovation, LS&Co. “We look forward to seeing the Collaboratory fellows’ water impact solutions come to life and inspire a future of empowered sustainable apparel makers.”