The Kontoor Brands-owned company is inviting global cotton farmers who can demonstrate and document soil-carbon and biodiversity improvements to apply for their cotton to be purchased for a Wrangler Retro Premium jean collection. The collection will be part of the company’s efforts for Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s The Jeans Redesign program, a set of principles developed to foster a circular economy in the jeanswear industry.
Launched in 2019, the popular set of guidelines establishes the minimum requirements for the durability, material health, recyclability and traceability of denim jeans. One of the key principles of the circular economy is the regeneration of natural systems, which Wrangler noted aligns with its own goal to source 100 percent sustainably grown cotton by 2025.
“A circular economy is symbiotic with regenerative agricultural practices,” said Roian Atwood, Wrangler senior director, global sustainable business. “Wrangler is amplifying our commitment with this call to action as we work with farmers to rapidly scale the supply of sustainably-grown cotton.”
This global call to action builds on the 2017 launch of Wrangler’s sustainable cotton initiative, the Wrangler Science and Conservation program, which focuses on building a more resilient and regenerative cotton supply. The program is an alliance of industry experts, farmers and nonprofit partners that sponsors research, farmer workshops and promotes soil health farming practices.
The program has resulted in products like the 2019 Wrangler Rooted Collection, a line of jeans made with 100 percent sustainable and traceable cotton grown from farmers in five U.S. states.
For this new project, Atwood added that the company is “looking for the best of the best” in farming practices.
To be considered for inclusion in the Wrangler Retro Premium “Regenerative Jean” collection, Wrangler is asking any farmer from around the world to submit documented evidence of improved soil health and environmental benefits resulting from their adoption of regenerative agricultural systems.
Examples include improvements in soil carbon, soil physical properties, biological properties, and determined benefits to the environment. An external panel chaired by the Soil Health Institute will review farmer submissions for selecting the final candidate.
Wayne Honeycutt, Soil Health Institute president and CEO, said he hopes this initiative will inspire other brands to follow in Wrangler’s footsteps to produce “climate beneficial clothing.”
“Over the last 100-150 years, many of our most productive agricultural soils have lost 40-60 percent of their precious organic carbon back into the atmosphere,” he said. “Restoring carbon back into the soil with regenerative agriculture is one of the greatest opportunities we have to address both climate change and the financial well-being of farmers.”