Preloved jeans donated to Levi's are repurposed and reused by local women

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Emilie Joseph in a colourful dye denim jacket by Levis and blue faded denim jean dad shorts in Paris, France. Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
Emilie Joseph in a colourful dye denim jacket by Levis and blue faded denim jean dad shorts in Paris, France. Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
  • It is undeniable, used jeans are better-off donated to women in need of employment and face socio-economic challenges than ending up in landfills, adding to the persistent crisis of clothes dumped.
  • In line with that ideology, about 108 micro-businesses have benefited from the Levi's Jeans Drive, which encourages people to donate used jeans to Levi's stores for upcycling and recycling.
  • The jeans have been used to make Early Childhood Development (ECD) toys for low resourced ECD centres, and disability-specific products to support children with disabilities.


The global conversation dominating the fashion industry is all about sustainability and ethical fashion practices, not only from brands but from consumers too. 

In line with that conversation, about 56 mothers of children with disabilities have benefited from the Levi's Jeans Drive in partnership with Clothes To Good. 

The initiative is one of Levi's efforts in their global Buy Better, Wear Longer initiative, inspired by sustainability and the concept of circularity.

fashion, women, recycling, upcycling, sustainabili
Woman upcycling a pair of jeans donated to Levi's by consumers. Image supplied by The Bread 

READ MORE | The ripple effects of fast fashion: 15 million used garments pour into Accra every week

It is undeniable, used jeans are better-off donated to women in need of employment and face socio-economic challenges than ending up in landfills, adding to the persistent crisis of clothes dumped.

In order to curb this, consumers were encouraged to drop off old jeans of any brand to Levi's stores in the country. 

fashion, sustainability, upcycling, recycling
About 56 of mothers of children with disabilities have benefited from the initiative. Image supplied by The Bread

READ MORE | ‘I can only do so much’: We asked fast-fashion shoppers how ethical concerns shape their choices

The jeans donated have been used to support the 108 micro-businesses development programme, 56 of whom are of mothers of children with disabilities. They have been upcycled to make Early Childhood Development (ECD) toys for low resourced ECD centres, and disability-specific products to support children with disabilities.

Jeans that could not be upcycled are downcycled into fibre to be reused by Levi's partner Connacher (a textile recycling company) in the motor and mattress industry.fashion, women, recycling, upcycling, sustainabili

The women upcycle jeans to make Early Childhood Development (ECD) toys for low resourced ECD centres, and disability-specific products to support children with disabilities. Image supplied by The Bread

READ MORE | Like most of the fashion industry, there’s a blind spot in Country Road’s ethical focus

"Our jeans are made to last, which is good for the environment because repurposing jeans use a fraction of the energy and water it takes to make new ones. We want to continue to educate consumers to donate and recycle anything they're no longer wearing to benefit the environment and the community," says head of marketing for Levi's South Africa, Candace Gilowey.

fashion, women, recycling, upcycling, sustainabili
Consumers have donated hundreds of pairs of jeans to the Levi's Jeans Drive. Image supplied by The Bread

Additional information: The Bread Creative Brand Consultancy

What do you do with your used jeans? Tell us here.

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