Levi Strauss is introducing a scanning technique that uses lasers to ethically create designs on his jeans instead of manual work. Called Project FLX (abbreviations in English of Future-Led Execution), the technique will eliminate the harmful chemicals and will reduce the labor-intensive steps to produce jean finishes of between 18 and 24 steps to only three. Levi also plans to scale this through the company's denim supply chain.
"Our first step in the new process is to photograph the jean, and then we take it and illustrate it in a way that the laser can interpret." So, what used to happen traditionally 8, 10, 12 minutes with manual applications, we can now execute with the laser in 90 seconds or so, "said Bart Sights, vice president of technical innovation at Levi's, who runs Levi's innovation lab called Eureka lab. The lasers use infrared or slightly scraped designs on the top layer of the jean surface, creating faded outlines and tears.
Levi says that for the past 30 years, the clothing industry has generally used manual finishing and a chemical process to create worn and faded designs in denim. The company is committed to achieving a "zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020" and says it will reduce the amount of chemicals used from thousands to a few dozen during the process of finishing the den with this laser technology.
Photo: Levi Strauss & Co
As part of the project, Levi's designers are also using a new image creation tool to create different patterns and finishes in jeans using a tablet to create a prototype. The platform allows designers to adjust colors and control the design of breaks and rips. While this is not new, Eureka laboratories supposedly tried to make 3D graphics more realistic. Prototype jeans are usually created using chemicals and by manually tearing, tearing or wearing a pair of physical jeans.
The company says that this new digital tool will reduce development by half, from months to weeks and, sometimes, only days. These created digital files can also be sent to the laser machine to create a prototype or even a supplier for large-scale manufacturing. Levi anticipates that the digital platform will be fully implemented in 2020.
This is not the first time that lasers are used to design clothes. Last year, Adidas allowed buyers to design their own sweaters with laser body scanners and light sensors at an emerging store in Berlin, while other designers have used technology to create textiles and laser-cut jewelry.