It may be the strangest environmental support suggestion since the infamous single sheet of toilet paper. Apparently, the CEO of Levi Strauss wants his customers to forego washing their jeans. CEO and Founder of 5WPR Ronn Torossian explains the comment, and the PR consequences: The conversation in question started out innocently enough. CEO Chip Bergh was on hand to celebrate the 141st birthday of his company’s signature product, the 501 jean. Bergh was in fine, funny form, opening with a crack that his products were the “ultimate in sustainable apparel,” and adding, “our jeans will last a lot longer than most people’s waistlines.” Bergh supported this point by stating that Levi jeans are the most popular brand in secondhand stores. No way to track that stat easily, but we’ll roll with it for now, because what he said next just gets bizarre.
It began with an offhand comment about Levi’s commitment to staying ahead of the “sustainability curve.” Bergh talked about the Wellthread line, a brand of Dockers that Bergh described as “sustainable in every facet of the word.”
He then talked about water conservation, and how his company works hard to reduce waste and water use. Then he said it, if you want to do your part for sustainability, stop washing your jeans. Yeah, that comment might play well in certain circles, but for the vast majority of people who buy and wear Levis, particularly all the guys who use them like they do in the commercials, that little piece of advice just won’t work.
At the least, Bergh’s comment gets him painted as a bit “icky,” and at worst, a bit of a goofball with outlandish opinions not fit for the general populace, Torossian says.. Either way, his comments hardly shift his company’s Public Relations one direction or another, but they do get them in the news. Think about it, when was the last time Levi made this many headlines?