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The Future of Big Denim:

How To Make Jeans Sustainable

Paul Dillinger
9:00 am, March 16th (EST)
Expert Guest

Paul Dillinger

Vice President, Global Product Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co

Paul Dillinger is the Vice President for Global Product Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) Following his passion for sustainability, Dillinger has been an integral partner with the company’s Social and Environmental Sustainability group to develop front-end methods for applied sustainability in the design process. Dillinger also led the design team that created the Dockers® Wellthread collection, a result of a fellowship with the Aspen Institute. He is the first fashion designer to earn a First Movers Fellowship with the renowned organization.


Before joining LS&Co., Dillinger worked as a fashion designer and brand development specialist for 16 years at a variety of fashion houses in New York, including Calvin Klein and DKNY. He has also served as a designer-in-residence for the Rhode Island School of Design through a program sponsored by Levi Strauss & Co.


Dillinger received his BFA in fashion design from Washington University in St. Louis. After graduation, he moved to Milan as the first Fulbright scholar in fashion design, researching the influence of emerging luxury markets on high-fashion design directions and commercialization. Concurrent with this research, he earned a Master of Fine Arts from the Domus Academy in 1995.

Expert Guest
Masterclass Intro


Our kick-off installment for Season 3 of our Sustainable Fashion Master Talks Series profiles Vice President for Global Product Innovation, Paul Dillinger speaking with WeDesign CEO, Simon Collins at the Levi’s Showroom in Soho, New York City. In this incredible interview, Dillinger discusses Levi’s deep and multi-dimensional commitment to sustainability and ethics within its business and supply chain. He discusses the array of products and projects he is leading and collaborating on which are transforming possibilities for sustainable fashion in denim. Join us for a riveting conversation which will inspire and engage viewers in countless ways for ideas on infusing sustainability and ethics into companies of all sizes.

Main Topic


  • A mere 2.5% of Earth's water is freshwater and only 0.3% of it is readily accessible to humans. This is equivalent to 0.01% of all water on Earth.

  • Water is a central sustainable development goal.

  • In 2015 alone, the fashion industry consumed 79 billion cubic meters of water — enough to fill 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools. That figure is expected to increase by 50% by 2030.

  • It takes 200 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans, the equivalent of 285 showers.4

  • It can take 2,700 liters to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt.

  • “G-Star RAW released the ‘Most Sustainable Jeans Ever’. To create the G-Star Elwood RFTPi jean, the brand developed the world’s cleanest indigo dyeing process, formulated with 70% fewer chemicals and no salts. Unlike a regular denim wash that takes approximately 40-70 liters of water, this pair of jeans uses only 10.”


* All content adapted from

“It Takes 2,720 Liters Of Water To Make Just One T-Shirt” and “10 Things You Need to Know about Water Impacts of the Fashion Industry”

Key Takeaways

"I want people to understand that the purpose and value of a designer is to possibly take a thing that in many ways has been unchanged for the last century and put all of their creative energy into reimagining and reengineering soup to nuts top to bottom every component to deliver to the consumer the same value they want they expect they appreciate they love they are friends with this product but to do it in a way that generates value or at very least eliminates harm"




  • In what ways might sustainability be harder- or easier- for a long-standing denim maker like Levi’s?

  • Of the Levis products featured in this Master Talks (Google Jacquard, Levi’s Authorized Vintage (501s) or Levi’s Cottonized Hemp, etc.) which do you feel will have the most impact on sustainability? Why or why not?

  • What do you think Levi’s next product innovation should be? What future trend in technology/society/sustainability does it harness or predict? 


Q: What are some of the companies you mention in your talk who are spearheading research & development of sustainable textiles/ recycling?

A: Evernu:; Lenzing:; Renewcell:; Worn Again Technologies:

Q: Where can I find the “life cycle assessment” for Levi’s which you mention in your talk? Is it public?

A: “Understanding the Environmental Impact of a Pair of Levi’s ® 501® Jeans”: Levi Strauss Life Cycle Assessment:

Q: Where can I find Levi’s Code of Conduct?

A: “Profits Through Principles”: Levi Strauss Code of Business Conduct:

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