Levi Strauss is introducing a digitising technique that creates designs on its jeans fabric using laser in place of manual labour. Called Project FLX (which stands for Future-Led Execution), the technique will eliminate harmful chemicals and cut labour-intensive steps in producing jean finishes from between 18 to 24 steps to only three. The company also plans to scale this across the company's denim supply chain.
''Our first step in the new process is to photograph the jean, and then we take that 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, Levi's VP in technical innovation, who leads Levi's innovation lab called Eureka lab, The Verge reported. The radiation from lasers lightly scratches designs into the top layer of the jean's surface, creating the faded outlines and tears.
According to Levi's, over the past 30 years, hand-finishing and a chemical process have been used in the industry to create the worn and faded designs on denim.
The laser technique also makes for greater creativity. With the technique, Levi's can make not only authentic-looking wear if it wants, but also make ornate artwork.
The project is currently under test at Levi's and is expected to be phased into its supply chain over the course of two years.
''Our first step in the new process is to photograph the jean, and then we take that and illustrate it in a way that the laser can interpret,'' said Sights.
''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.''
According to commentators, laser washing is not a new technology, and has been around for a few years, but Levi's is among the first companies to attempt its implementation across their supply chain and business model.