Levi Strauss CEO: Don't wash your jeans

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By Eun Kyung Kim

Thanks to some revealing comments by the chief executive of Levi Strauss, the question over how often to wash denim jeans has flared up like a pair of bell bottoms.

During a sustainability discussion at a green conference last week, Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh bragged his jeans are "the ultimate in sustainable apparel" and will last "a lot longer than most people’s waistlines.” Then he revealed why, using the pants he was wearing as an example.

“These jeans are maybe a year old and these have yet to see a washing machine,” he said. “I know that sounds totally disgusting. I know it does. But believe me, it can be done.”

Levi’s have boasted the less-is-more approach to jean care in the past, promoting the theory that putting jeans in the freezer will kill any smelly-causing bacteria. Bergh said there are other ways to keep jeans fresh.

“You can spot-clean it, you can air dry it, and it’s fine,” he said at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference last week. “I have yet to get a skin disease or anything else. It works.”

Natalie Morales took a practical approach to the issue. 

“Spot-cleaning is not going to work when you’re on a cow farm,” she said Wednesday on TODAY.

“Maybe it’s because he’s the CEO of Levi Strauss and he can have new jeans anytime he wants,” Savannah Guthrie offered.

But Tamron Hall revealed that she, like Bergh, adheres to a no-wash denim philosophy.

Tamron caught flack from the TODAY team after admitting she hasn't washed some of her jeans in a year. Today

“I have jeans that have not been washed in at least a year,” she said, causing a raised eyebrow from Savannah.

“You know what? They just walked over and said hello to me,” she said.