Their television adverts have launched the pop career of many an artist and they were one of the most coveted items on the black market in East Berlin and the Soviet Bloc: Levi’s jeans are simply a world fashion icon.

Yet with the help of a Seattle startup, they’re now looking to reduce their impact on the planet—ecologically speaking, of course. Evrnu reconstitute old fibres into new and have teamed up with Levi’s to create the world’s first pair of jeans made up of more than 50% post-consumer cotton waste.

The prototype—a pair of Levi’s 511s—was made from five used cotton T-shirts and involved a technique that Evrnu claims uses 98% less water than those used to produce virgin cotton. Evrnu CEO Stacy Flynn says that the jeans offer a taste of a future in which textiles are regenerated multiple times to cut down on waste.

“[Levi’s] was the perfect first partner for us to demonstrate our technology and capability as they are an iconic American company with a product that’s recognised around the world,” said Flynn in a statement. “Our aspiration is to build a pair of Levi’s jeans that are just as beautiful and strong as the original and we’re making great progress toward that goal.”

Evrnu’s patent-pending technology “breaks down cotton at the molecular level before extruding the resulting pulp into pristine fibres”, according to Ecouterre. Levi’s are the first company to make use of the technology—and they seem very happy with it indeed.

“The first prototype represents a major advancement in apparel innovation,” said Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi’s. “Although [it is still] early days, this technology holds great promise and is an exciting advancement as we explore the use of regenerated cotton to help significantly reduce our overall impact on the planet.”