It's no secret that the broken-in look on a pair of blue jeans rarely comes from actually wearing them. Walk into any clothing store and you'll have your pick of styles with fade patterns and maybe even a few fashionable rips.
For decades brands typically have achieved that sought-after look by treating the denim by hand, using large amounts of chemicals. But recently the Eureka Lab, Levi Strauss's innovation center in San Francisco, has developed a new method of making jeans that relies less on manual labor and more on some advanced technology.
The F.L.X. Project, a digital platform Levi's launched last year, entails photographing old jeans with an iPad, then using a laser to duplicate the imperfections on a freshly manufactured pair. Whereas creating wear patterns by hand takes 20 to 30 minutes per pair, the laser rig completes the task in about 90 seconds.
In its lab, Levi's has jeans dating back nearly a century that can serve as inspiration for new creations, providing virtually limitless customization options. The lab also can make near-clones of the original version, down to its wear patterns, fade lines, and tears.
"[It] nearly exactly replicates the vintage jean that inspired it," says Bart Sights, the lab's head of technical innovation.
Inc. visited the Eureka Lab to watch the new process in action. Check out the 360-degree video above to see how a tablet and a laser can create pants that look like they're from the 1930s in less than two minutes.