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Levi's names 10 entrepreneurs to fellowship initiative

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

1 Aug 2016

London - Levi Strauss and Co has named 10 entrepreneurs to Collaboratory, its annual fellowship programme for “socially and environmentally conscious entrepreneurs” who are looking to create a more sustainable apparel industry.

More than 100 applicants from ten countries applied to take part in the first-of-its-kind fellowship programme, and the ten finalists impressed with their “bold thinking and shared commitment” to sustainable apparel manufacturing.

The first class of the Collaboratory is comprised of 5 men and 5 women, who have companies focusing on textiles, natural dye, merchandising, menswear, ethical fashion, women’s empowerment and outdoor clothing.

These include Miriam Dym, founder of Dym a Californian textiles workshop focusing on producing local, “slow” textiles, Jesus Ciriza Larraona founder and executive director of the Colours of Nature, a natural dye company specialising in indigo, and John Moore co-founder and creative director of Outerknown, a sustainable menswear brand that blends function and style starting at the supply chain.

Levi Strauss and Co unveils inaugural Collaboratory fellows

Other entrepreneurs taking part include Wesley Owiti chief executive and co-founder of Cherehani Africa, a social enterprise focused on women’s empowerment and financial inclusion through sustainable fashion, Benita Singh co-founder and chief executive of Le Souk, the first online global textiles marketplace, and Kevin McCracken co-founder of Social Imprints, a full-service merchandising company that employs at-risk populations.

“We’re impressed by the calibre of applications we received from around the world and inspired by the bold thinking and shared commitment to creating a more sustainable apparel industry,” said Chip Bergh, president and chief executive of LS&Co. “Our goal with the Collaboratory is to fuel the next generation of apparel makers and accelerate sustainability innovation, and we’re excited about what this group of fellows will accomplish.”

Each year, the Collaboratory will focus on a specific social or environmental issue facing the industry, and this year is on reducing the water impact of apparel manufacturing. The fellows will participate in an exclusive workshop, designed in partnership with the Aspen Institute, where they will create solutions to reduce their water impact in order to advance sustainability in the apparel industry. Fellows will also work alongside at LS&Co.’s Eureka Innovation Lab.

In addition, the fellows also have the opportunity to also receive 50,000 dollars in funding to help implement their sustainability plans after the fellowship.

Image: courtesy of Levi’s