Levi Strauss is turning to laser-wielding robots to get the worn look and strategic rips that consumers demand in their denim, in a move to replace its global army of "finishers" who beat, sand and even bake its jeans into different styles. In what it is billing as the biggest change in more than a decade to a supply chain that turns out 150-million pairs of jeans each year, the apparel company has begun deploying a legion of lasers that by 2020 it hopes will replace almost all the humans doing the labour-intensive, and sometimes toxic, finishing work. The goal is to cut waste and costs, while also shortening a design and manufacturing process that at more than a year is now too slow to respond to swiftly changing fashion trends. The privately held company would not say how much it was investing in the initiative, though much of the cost is likely to be borne by its vendors around the world. But the shift is the latest effort to modernise the 135-year-old San Francisco-based company...

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