Can you introduce yourself, who are you and what is your position at Wrangler?
I’m Sean Gormley, the Global Creative Concept Director for Wrangler Modern. I’ve worked in the design team of Wrangler for some time, over ten years. I’ve always had a big affection for the history of the brand. I try to combine my passion for Wrangler heritage with an obsession with the future, of reaching new consumers, and telling rich stories often linked to the heritage but that propel the brand forward.
How important is a sustainable approach at Wrangler these days? And, for you as a denim designer?
A sustainable approach is 100% crucial. For every concept we build and every product we design we want to make a positive impact. Wrangler is a cornerstone of the denim industry, and takes a leadership role in the adoption and expansion of the most sustainable practices, from the materials we use, the dyeing process’ and the laundry phase of manufacturing our denim.
As a denim designer and environmentalist, I’ve struggled to reconcile the negative aspect of denim’s (low cost) popularity with my own experience and ideal of great jeans. It’s also honestly been a struggle as a designer to make the correct choices. We’ve faced a period of greenwashing claims and questionable innovations. But most recently we have a much better understanding of how to make measurable, science-based actions that deliver on our targets.
And my sense is that the industry as a whole is moving now from a period of less bad, to more good.
With Wrangler you used as first the revolutionary Indigood technology. Can you describe what this technology is all about?
The Indigood project started with our development and adoption of foam dye technology. Which is a remarkable innovation in the way the indigo is applied to the warp yarn. Essentially, it’s a highly pressurised foam version of the indigo that is applied by being sprayed onto the yarn in a highly contained environment. When Kontoor innovation team first showed me this technology I was blown away by the transformation of the traditional huge slasher dye range down into a small, singular system that achieved the same deep and dark indigo blue coverage.
And the data speaks for itself, above 90% water savings in the dyeing phase as well as considerable savings in chemicals and energy, since the process is quicker and requires less energy.
Who invented the Indigood technology? And, were you also involved in this process?
Like all strong innovations, collaboration between partners was necessary. Recognizing its potential to revolutionize the industry, Wrangler provided Texas Tech University with early-stage funding and technical guidance for the innovation.
Wrangler worked with the mill Tejidos Royo in Spain to develop the first fabric made using the foam dyed indigo.
Can you achieve the same results with Indigood as normal dye technologies?
The Foam dye application demands a high level of expertise from the mill, which is exactly why we partnered with Tejidos Royo who are expert at working with foam which they had been doing onto the fabric, and so they had knowledge of the application that could be transferred to the yarn application.
For the consumer picking up the jeans dyed with Indigood foam dye looks is exactly the same as a regular dyed denim. And the wearing experience is the same too, the fade down from using and washing are exactly the same as conventional dyeing techniques.
First, the technology was used only for Wrangler, right? After that, Lee followed very quick, also as this is one of the Kontoor brands of course, but is it now available for every brand, or is it still Kontoor owned?
Indigood began as a specific innovation and has grown to be more meaningful for Wrangler, for Kontoor and for our manufacturing partners globally.
Launched by Wrangler in 2019, with the revolutionary introduction of foam dyed denim, the Indigood™ program recently expanded to include additional freshwater-conservation technologies used in textile manufacturing. Through the Indigood™ Facility Certification program, Kontoor is encouraging textile mills across the globe to adopt radically different water saving technologies. Textile manufacturing facilities using 90 percent less freshwater than conventional fabric production may qualify for full certification.
As of March 2021, Kontoor Brands has saved more than 8 billion liters of water through initiatives like Indigood. To expand its impact, Kontoor Brands is analyzing denim manufacturing facilities around the world, certifying those deploying processes that decreases freshwater use. This initiative aims to identify and highlight factories that have or are actively working to improve their water footprint.
The Indigood Facility Certification launched in fall 2021 with Arvind Limited’s Naroda Facility in India, the first textile mill to be certified through the Indigood program. Kontoor will survey program participants on a bi-annual basis to confirm continued compliance with certification standards.
Water is one of our most vital land precious natrual resources. I’m proud to have been involved in the indigood project that has grown to represent our commitment to ongoing fresh water conservation. Now our independent third party validation process ensures that we can assess new technologies in manufacturing which can be adopted into the indigood program so it can expand for Wrangler, for Kontoor and our manufacturing partners globally.