Starting in 2019, Wrangler will offer a line of jeans created with 99 percent less wastewater than traditional denim manufacturing.
In 2017, Wrangler, Lee and the Walmart Foundation invested in early-stage funding of foam-dyeing technology produced by the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute at Texas Tech University. Just two years later, Wrangler is launching its first line produced with the technology.
Tejidos Royo, a Spanish fabric mill, will produce the collection for Wrangler as it tests out the market reaction to sustainable denim. The mill assisted in the development of the IndigoZERO technology that made foam-dyeing possible and debuted the technique at Kingpins Amsterdam in April of this year. It will begin production of foam-dyed denim for Wrangler in October and the first batch is expected by the end of the year.
“We’re excited Wrangler is dedicating an entire line of jeans to this innovation,” Tejidos Royo sales director, Jose Royo, said about the technology. “Our Dry Indigo process nearly erases the environmental impact of denim dyeing and represents the next generation of denim production.”
Standard rope dyeing procedures consume 400 gallons of water per every 100 yards of fabric, but with foam-dyeing, that number drops to just 3.5 gallons. Less water also means smaller machines and lower production costs, which can help producers achieve a higher level of flexibility and efficiency. Additionally, the dyeing process easily can be scaled for varying levels of production and business maturity and could potentially reduce a company’s production cycle by 50 to 90 percent.
“While we have been able to reduce 3 billion liters of water in product finishing during the past 10 years, we know that more needs to be done across the entire supply chain,” Wrangler president Tom Waldron said in a statement. “Foam technology reduces water consumption and pollution further upstream, helping our fabric suppliers to dramatically minimize the impacts of making denim fabric blue.”
Wrangler recently has been involved in efforts to make cotton sourcing more sustainable and has made a commitment to reduce its water consumption by 5 billion liters by 2020. Foam-dyeing can only make that pledge more attainable.
The partnership between Wrangler, Lee, Walmart and an eco-friendly Spanish fabric mill illustrates the collaborative nature of the technology—and the mainstream appeal of sustainable sourcing.
“We invested in the development of this innovation because we believe it can drastically change the denim industry for the better,” Waldron said. “We’re grateful to have an industry-leading partner in Royo, with whom we are taking this revolutionary step towards more sustainable denim.”