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Kontoor Brands Expands Indigood Program to Include Eco Solutions

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When Wrangler’s and Lee’s parent company, Kontoor Brands, introduced the Indigood program in 2019, the denim giant was embarking on a new frontier in indigo dyeing: foam-dyed denim.

The innovation, a product of like-minded partners coming together, including denim mill Tejidos Royo and Texas Tech University, eliminated the traditional water vats and chemical baths used in conventional indigo dyeing by replacing it with a waterless foam application. The process also reduced energy use and waste by more than 60 percent compared to the conventional denim dyeing process.

The benefit of Indigood was clear when Wrangler, the first brand to launch products dyed with the technique, announced in April it saved more than 7 billion liters of water in the finishing phase of denim manufacturing, exceeding its 2020 goal of saving 5.5 billion liters.

More can savings can be achieved, however. Kontoor announced Monday that it has expanded the Indigood program to include any water savings technology in apparel fabric production that uses at least 90 percent less water than conventional fabric production.

Through the expansion of the Indigood program, Kontoor is encouraging denim mills across the globe to adopt radically different water saving technologies. Additional approved technologies include increased water recycling, advancements in the dyeing process and fabric finishing innovations.

By expanding the Indigood program, Jeff Frye, Kontoor Brands VP of product development and direct procurement, said the company is giving suppliers the opportunity to select the water savings technologies that work best for their production, “while also meeting the growing consumer demand for products that not only look good, but also minimize the impact on the planet.”

The company stated that it works with independent third parties to validate Indigood claims to ensure they meet the 90 percent threshold.

The new strategy is bound to help Wrangler meet its updated water goal targets for the fiber production, fabric construction and product finishing phases of the denim supply chain, which together encompass more than 95 percent of the total water used throughout the production of a pair of jeans. The brand aims to reduce its water usage by 50 percent by 2030.

The Lee brand is also focusing on conserving water throughout the denim manufacturing supply chain, including fiber production—with goals for sustainable cotton and sustainable synthetics by 2025—in fabric construction, and in finishing, where Lee has saved more than 1 billion liters of water.

In 2020, Lee announced its first global sustainability goals, which include increasing the number of Indigood-dyed products made every year through 2025.

“At Kontoor Brands, we believe companies have a responsibility to use resources wisely, drive sustainable innovations, and preserve and protect the planet,” said Dhruv Agarwal, Kontoor Brands senior director of global materials innovation and product development. “Expanding our Indigood partnerships to new mills helps in our greater mission to conserve water in every step of our supply chain.”