The technology behind the new offering incorporates indigo pigment directly into Tencel branded modal fibers using a one-step, spun-dyeing process. This delivers superior color fastness relative to conventional indigo dyeing, while using substantially fewer resources, Lenzing said.
This technology has been awarded the EU Ecolabel, a designation of environmental excellence given to products meeting high environmental standards throughout their life cycle.
The denim industry’s demand for eco-responsible alternatives is growing rapidly, as brands and supply chain partners seek greater sustainability. Lenzing has been working closely with such partners to counteract environmentally harmful denim production processes through the botanic origin of its raw materials and responsible production processes.
Denim remains an important market for Lenzing and the introduction of Tencel Modal with Indigo technology is designed to help reduce the ecological footprint of denim fabrics and garments. Produced in Austria, predominantly from beech wood derived from sustainably managed wood sources, the new offering has been designated BioPreferred by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Innovation is at the core of what we do, from sustainable fiber sourcing through industry leading features and production processes, with the ever-present goal of safeguarding our environment,” Florian Heubrandner, vice president of the global textiles business at Lenzing AG. “By upending traditional manufacturing processes and implementing our pioneering technology along with renewable and eco-responsible materials, Tencel Modal with Indigo technology sets a new benchmark for indigo application and sustainability in the denim industry.”
Tricia Carey, director of global business development for denim at Lenzing, said the indigo technology marks a major change in the way indigo dye has been applied that goes beyond foam dyeing, for example, and allows for fewer steps in the process and reduces chemicals by putting the indigo pigment into the yarn while it is being spun.
“I feel the opportunities are really endless for what can be done with this technology,” Carey said. “We feel this process will be able to stop problems, not only of indigo dyeing, but also in the knit market, which has had problems working with indigo yarns because of the crocking. The beauty of adding the indigo pigment into the fiber is that you still can create the wash effects in a commercial laundry–ozone, laser–however, when the consumer washes it in the home laundry, you will not have any further loss of color.”
Carey noted that Tencel Modal fibers with Indigo technology are inherently versatile and enable implementation in a range of multifiber blends. She said the process also allows for the fiber to be used in products beyond jeans, such as knitwear, activewear, shoes and home goods, since the crocking is eliminated.
In addition, a specially commissioned indigo pigment from dyestuff manufacturer DyStar ensures that Tencel Modal with Indigo technology can be certified with Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex, guaranteeing ultra-low levels of aniline.
Adriano Goldschmied, founder of House of Gold, is among the early launch collaborators for Tencel Modal with Indigo technology.
“The Tencel brand is leading revolutionary change for the denim industry and it has always been one of my go-to eco-fibers for my collections,” Goldschmied said. “We are thrilled to collaborate and launch the ‘Seed of Joy’ concept capsule with woven, circular and sweater knit fabrics using Tencel Modal with Indigo technology, in partnership with mills such as Blue Diamond and In The Loop, as well as machinery producer Shima Seiki.”
To make the commercial launch of Tencel Modal with Indigo technology possible, Lenzing has partnered with denim mills Candiani and Cone Denim.
Pierette Scavuzzo, Cone’s design director, noted that the new Tencel Modal with Indigo technology aligns with Cone’s sustainability goals, as well as its commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). This one addresses SDG 12, which is responsible consumption and production, Scavuzzo said.
“As far as our product offering, this is really a beautiful evolution of what we call our Future Colors collection,” she said. “So, this is the pièce de resistance, having aniline-free indigo in our Future Colors story. It’s a huge step in sustainable innovation, now available in indigo, which is the heart of everything we do. We feel a brand will look at it and see the benefits it brings.”
Cone has developed a prototype fabric with the Tencel indigo blended with hemp, giving styles a fresh hand and look, and fits into the looser silhouettes in demand today. This type of fabric can fit into designer-level sportswear, Scavuzzo said, or dresses or loose-fit trouser.
“We also did a stretch, textural fabric with has [flexibility] and that can be unisex,” she said. “We are really excited about our line that’s going to come out with it because it’s not just one note.”