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Wrangler, Lee Invest to Transform Denim Manufacturing

Tags: Strategy & Innovation

Wrangler, Lee Invest to Transform Denim Manufacturing

December 29, 2017

Investments by Wrangler® and Lee® are paving the way for sustainability in denim manufacturing industrywide.

The brands, along with the Walmart Manufacturing Innovation Fund, were early stage investors in a new foam dyeing process for denim called IndigoZERO, developed at the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute of Texas Tech University and owned by Indigo Mill Designs (IMD).

“IndigoZERO has the potential to be truly disruptive – it’s a game changing technology that can transform how denim is dyed,” said Sudhakar Puvvada, Vice President of VF's Global Jeanswear Innovation Center, who served as an advisor to IMD in IndigoZERO’s development. “The hope is that the industry as a whole can benefit from it.”

IndigoZERO is an eco-friendly alternative to water-based dyeing, which requires each fabric mill to use multiple chemicals and millions of gallons of water.

With the new technology in IndigoZERO, fabric mills can achieve the same or better dye quality without using chemicals, and reduce their water and energy use by more than 90 percent. The technology also reduces waste by enabling fabric mills to produce much smaller quantities of denim than water-based dyeing.

Wrangler and Lee have supported the development of IndigoZERO since 2015, providing ongoing counsel, as well as financial and technical investments. This year, the brands provided the financial support needed to push IndigoZERO over the finish line.

“We were early believers in the objectives and feasibility of the technology,” said Sudhakar. “With Wrangler being one of the largest producers of denim worldwide and Walmart being the largest retailer of denim, we have the ability to make change happen for the industry.”

Wrangler and Lee’s investments in IndigoZERO are a reflection of the brands’ sustainability commitments, which include eliminating unwanted chemicals from the supply chain by 2019, reducing water usage by 5 billion liters by 2020 and adopting 100 percent sustainable cotton by 2025.

“At Wrangler and Lee, making communities better where our consumers work and play is foundational to how we operate as a good corporate citizen,” said Phil McAdams, President, VF Jeanswear, North America. “Supporting the development of foam dying technology is another advancement in that journey.”

Wrangler and Lee are currently working to commercialize IndigoZERO.