The Levi’s Ranked Top Environmental, Social Performer For Jeans By GoodGuide

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Brand management

Certainly, there are various rankings of the global brands, especially in terms of the health, social responsibility, environmental and social impact of products. Not only consumers but also companies are becoming more aware of the impact of these rankings over the consumption preferences. As a result, many brands are increasing their popularity among more conscious consumers that are interested in whether the goods they purchase are really healthy and environmentally-friendly.

Nowadays, the rankings released by the GoodGuide system, created back in 2007, is under the spotlight. As an independent website, GoodGuide provides consumers with expert ratings and information about the health, environmental and social impact of products and companies. So far, over 95,000 food, toys, apparel, personal care & household products, babies & kids, electronics and appliances produced by both local and global companies (including Starbucks, Levi’s, H&M, Nescafe, Nike, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Diesel to name a few) has been thoroughly studied and ranked by experts of GoodGuide. And now the results are available at the website and on the iPhone app.

The introduction to the apparel rating says, “Our [GoodGuide’s] highest rated apparel brands work closely with their supply chains to improve working conditions and minimize environmental impacts. The best brands disclose the identity of their suppliers, audit how they perform on labor issues and make public the steps they take to respond to violations. They also design their products using life cycle principles and educate consumers about how to reduce impacts. Our lowest rated apparel brands are made by companies that are not focused on improving working conditions or reducing environmental impacts across their supply chain.

GoodGuide, which launched its first-ever rating system for apparel companies, has provided ratings of 118 brands on a number of key metrics including overall environmental efforts, sustainable material use, integration of lifecycle approach to product design, management of supply chain, restricted substance program, and vigilance in monitoring manufacturers and working conditions, among other things. There are 8 major categories with 1-15 subcategories in each.

The original denim brand, Levi’s was ranked first in the denim subcategory with a score of 7.4 out of 10 among 51 jeans brands studied. Also, Levi’s rests on the 6th place in the apparel category (the Dockers brand is on the 5th place there), leaving Timberland, Nike, Umbro, Converse, H&M, Gap, adidas, Reebok, Diesel, Lee and Wrangler behind. The brand Prana was listed as the next highest, with a score of 6.3 – followed by H&M (6.1), Banana Republic (6.1), and Old Navy (6.1). Bottom ranked brands include Polo, RLX, American Living, Ralph Lauren, and Hollister with just 3.7 points and the highest ranked brand is Hae Now with 7.8 points.

The environmental assessment is based on evaluating sustainable product design, green production practices, and the brand’s commitment to transparency. The social assessment is based on evaluating fair pay for workers (specifically whether the brand has a meaningful policy to support living wages), whether the company audits working conditions, commitment to transparency, and responsible purchasing practices.

For more than two decades, Levi Strauss & Co. has been a leader on social and environmental issues. The company was the first apparel company to establish a comprehensive workplace code of conduct (Terms of Engagement) for manufacturing suppliers, setting standards and addressing the important issues of child labor, forced labor, disciplinary practices, working hours, wages and benefits, freedom of association, discrimination as well as health and safety. In the fall of 2010, LS&Co, along with H&M, led a global ban on the practice of sandblasting in the retail industry, a practice that when done incorrectly, can cause serious health issues for workers.

Also, the company has established environmental requirements for suppliers, guidelines on water quality, and restrictions on the substances that can be used to make its clothes.Within this respect, it studied every stage in the life cycle of a typical pair of Levi’s® 501® jeans and discovered that the largest water impact comes from the cotton growing process and through the laundry habits of consumers after they leave the stores.

Most recently, the Levi’s brand unveiled the ‘Care Tag for Our Planet’ campaign. Under this campaign, the global product care tags in Levi’s jeans have been changed to include instructions about ways consumers can reduce the environmental impact of their clothes by washing less, washing in cold water, line drying and donating to Goodwill when no longer needed. Last month, the Levi’s brand furthered its environmental efforts by launching Water<Less jeans, a collection of denim made using significantly less water in the finishing process.

We don’t have nutrition labels on clothing yet, but GoodGuide is the first independent company to give consumers data to make informed comparisons about the clothes they purchase,” said Michael Kobori, Vice President of Social and Environmental Sustainability for Levi Strauss & Co. “We believe that increased transparency is the best way to empower consumers to support brands that are creating products in a thoughtful way.


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