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Levi’s Pilots Stony Creek Colors’ Plant-Based Indigo at Scale

Stony Creek Colors’ participation in Fashion for Good’s Accelerator Program is resulting in a collaboration that has the potential to significantly scale its production of plant-based pre-reduced indigo.

The Springfield, Tenn.-based natural dye manufacturer is tapping into the experience and technical know-how of denim giant Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.). For the first time, Stony Creek Colors will provide their pre-reduced IndiGold indigo dye to select denim mills used by Levi’s to run performance trials with different denim dyeing systems. With the goal of “unlocking key learnings around shade application and other efficiencies,” the project aims to have garments dyed with IndiGold dye on the market by late 2022 and early 2023.

The announcement follows Levi’s use of Stony Creek’s dyes sourced from food waste streams. The brand included non-denim styles dyed with the colors in its Fall 2021 WellThread collection. At the time of the launch, Levi’s said the collection was the product of a multi-year development relationship with Sarah Bellos, Stony Creek Colors founder.

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“Our previous work with Stony Creek has shown the great potential of plant-based dyes,” said Jeffrey Hogue, LS&Co. chief sustainability officer. “This is a great opportunity to expand that work and more fully realize the potential of this innovation.”

IndiGold replaces petroleum-derived synthetic indigo with plant-based inputs and can be integrated into an indigo pre-reduction system by using hydrogen as the reduction agent, Fashion for Good said. This allows companies to eliminate harmful byproducts from both the pre-reduction and the dyeing process. Pre-reduced indigo also provides more consistent dye results, resulting in less waste.

Fashion for Good, which has an equity stake in Stony Creek Colors, will oversee the pilot use of IndiGold.

“The textile industry must move towards safer, renewable and regenerative inputs. Stony Creek Color’s innovation is driving this change and we are excited to be working closely with them and our partners to bring this to market,” said Katrin Ley, Fashion for Good managing director.

Stony Creek Colors is in growth mode. In March, the company closed a Series B financing round totaling more than $9 million. The same month, it was one of the 14 startups selected for Fashion for Good’s Accelerator Program. More recently, the company launched a 30-day Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to support DTC production for IndiGold. It has so far raised more than $40,000, exceeding its $16,000 goal.

“Customers and brands want clean, safe processes and fabrics. Awareness of a changing climate requires us to act boldly with scalable, plant-based alternatives,” Bellos said. “IndiGold brings Stony Creek Colors’ proven, climate positive indigo dye into a new, liquid form that allows for radical ease of use and efficiency in dyeing at denim mills, while reducing the chemistries that can lead to pollution in the denim dyeing process.”