May 23, 2011. Heading up supply chain operations for Levi Strauss, the world’s largest denim brand, Geert Peeters strives to source jeans in a sustainable, fashionable and compliant way. just-style news editor Joe Ayling caught up with him at the sidelines of a London event to launch its new WaterLess line.
Levi Strauss & Co knows how to throw a party. just-style is at the launch of a collection of denim jeans requiring less water in their production, but it feels more rock and roll than that. Blue ‘waterless’ cocktails are served to guests, while a semi-naked male model poses for shots in a giant bath tub.
Eventually, key Levi Strauss executives including Geert Peeters, senior vice president for Levi’s global supply chain, take to a giant white stage and the DJ set is over.
“Our first objective is to make jeans that are leading edge from a design point of view, but we also develop our jeans in a way that has the least possible impact on the environment,” Peeters tells an audience of press, stakeholders, competitors and NGOs.
It is 10pm before the ‘formalities’ are over, at which point just-style is given a chance to quiz Peeters about how the world’s largest denim company sources its goods. The sharply-dressed Belgian, who has worked for Levi Strauss since 2002 after joining from VF Corporation, leads just-style backstage where the discussion begins.
“We don’t do this as a marketing gimmick”
The Levi Strauss company is 155 years old, and claims to have led industry values since its inception. This month the company announced plans for new terms of engagement (TOE) with suppliers from 2012 – the first such change in 20 years.
“We were the first international brand that would put a very high standard out there for health and safety and sustainability for all its vendors around the world,” Peeters tells just-style.
“We will now further develop these terms of engagement so they move on from pure compliance to a more holistic project where we will also look at the welfare of people and the community.”