Ralph Lauren is open-sourcing the first phase of a new platform that it says will revolutionize the way the fashion industry dyes cotton.
The Team U.S.A. outfitter announced Monday that it is working with Dow to accelerate the uptake of Color on Demand, a multiphased set of technologies that seeks to deliver the world’s first scalable zero-wastewater cotton dyeing system.
“In partnership with Dow, which has been one of our partners in the development of this technology, we’ve actually developed a very detailed manual for the industry to enable an adoption and also accelerate the change,” Patrice Louvet, CEO and president of Ralph Lauren, said at the Bloomberg Green Summit.
Color on Demand, according to the brand, will not only dramatically slash the amount of chemicals, dyes, time and energy employed in cotton dyeing, but it will also, “for the first time in the industry,” deliver a more effective and sustainable way of coloring cotton at any stage in the product manufacturing process—not just at the outset. This will cinch lead times for making product color decisions, Ralph Lauren said.
The manual, which will be available for free later this year, will focus on how companies can optimize Ecofast Pure, a pre-treatment solution developed by Dow for cotton textiles that it says uses up to 40 percent less water, 85 percent fewer chemicals, 90 percent less energy and emits 60 percent less carbon dioxide compared with traditional means.
While fashion is usually about “competition and exclusivity,” Louvet said, safeguarding the planet often requires “breaking down barriers” and “coming together” with shared solutions.
“That’s why we felt it was important to share with the industry what we’ve learned and what we’ve created,” he said. “And our hope and expectation is we will see broad adoption, so that all together as an industry we can transform water stewardship wherever we operate. And that this also serves as a catalyst for more innovation like this that positively impacts both our industry and the planet.”
Color on Demand is part of a broader Ralph Lauren commitment to eliminate hazardous chemical use and reduce water use across its supply chain. The brand says it aims to leverage the Color on Demand platform in more than 80 percent of its solid cotton products by 2025.
The program is a group effort. Other phases of the platform will include collaborations with sustainable finishing firm Jeanologia, chemicals giant Huntsman Textile Effects and mixing-equipment manufacturer Corob to “challenge traditional paradigms” and create “breakthrough solutions,” Louvet said.
“We’re clearly stronger together,” he said. “And I think this exercise and this program is an illustration of that. And I’m looking forward to us having more programs like this where we’re asking ourselves the question—‘what if’—and we’re doing this in partnership across the industry.”