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Lee and Artistic Milliners Develop Cradle to Cradle Certified Jeans

Lee Jeans is bringing Cradle to Cradle certified products to the market this fall.

The Kontoor Brands-owned label partnered with Pakistan-based vertically integrated denim manufacturer Artistic Milliners to develop Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified gold and bronze jeans. The 12-ounce selvedge jeans offer an authentic look that’s both high-quality and recyclable. Both styles are 98 percent GOTS certified organic cotton and 2 percent lycra.

The line includes two jeans styles developed by Artistic Milliner: the Gold-certified Aureola and Bronze-certified Nymph. Both have met the respective Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard version 3.1 requirements for certification by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. The institute awards certifications according to five performance categories: Material Health, Material Reuse, Renewable Energy and Carbon Management, Water Stewardship and Social Fairness.

The jeans are dyed using 58 percent less water than conventional processes and feature raw metal buttons.

Lee’s collection includes three fits: the Luke, a men’s slim tapered; and the Daren, a men’s regular straight, both offered in sizes 28 to 40; and the Carol, a women’s straight leg, available in sizes 24 to 32. Prices range from $141 to $153.

The C2C products are a part of Lee’s For A World That Works (FWTW) platform, an internal destination for sustainable developments and innovations. FWTW launched in 2020 alongside the brand’s debut of Indigood Denim, a signature denim collection that eliminates water from the denim dyeing process.

“At Lee, we are focused on finding transformative pathways to design and manufacture products that minimize the impact on our planet,” said Jeff Frye, vice president of product development, innovation, sustainability and procurement Kontoor Brands, which owns Lee Jeans. “Achieving Cradle to Cradle certification for the Aureola and Nymph styles enables our consumers to wear Lee Jeans with confidence, knowing we are continuously improving the sustainability and circularity of our products with the good of people and our planet in mind.”

Artistic Milliners has been a leader in developing Cradle to Cradle-certified jeans, and began the journey in 2018 when it worked with chemical company Dystar and Dutch denim brand G-Star Raw to develop the world’s first C2C certified gold denim fabric. Featured in the “Most Sustainable Jeans Ever” collection, the bottoms were developed with a clean indigo dyeing process, eco-friendly sustainable washing techniques, organic material and responsibly sourced components.

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“Our collaboration with Lee on the development of a Cradle to Cradle Certified range of jeans is a great example of the kind of transformative R&D and innovation that can occur across the value chain,” said Murtaza Ahmed, Artistic Milliners managing director. “It enabled us to use our existing Cradle to Cradle Certified denim fabric as a springboard for creating a fully certified vertical garment. The results are a reflection of our shared commitment to a circular future for people and planet by working with brands that believe in making a positive impact.”

The Lee collection is now available online and in select retail stores throughout North America and Europe.