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Product, Service & Design Innovation
G-Star Raw, Gap Dyeing to Make Better Jeans

G-Star Raw launches its latest collection of garments dyed with upcycled plant waste; while Gap Inc will roll out foam-dyed denim that dramatically reduces water, chemical and energy use.

G-Star Raw launches latest ‘Dyed by Nature’ collection

Image credit: G-Star Raw

G-Star Raw — which has long been at the forefront of sustainable fashion, having released its first “Renewed” collection, made from recycled jeans, in 2012; releasing one of the industry’s first line of jeans incorporating upcycled marine plastic, in 2014; and releasing the world’s first Cradle to Cradle certified gold denim in 2017 — has announced the latest product of its ongoing collaboration with EarthColors® by Archroma: a collection of garments dyed with upcycled saw palmetto leaf leftovers and upcycled beetroot waste.

G-Star was the world’s first denim brand to collaborate with Archroma and create a collection of jeans dyed with circular, plant-based dyes — the C2C-certified collection — in 2017. EarthColors® by Archroma are dyes derived from upcycled plant waste that are traceable from earth to product. Now, the denim brand is extending its EarthColors® by Archroma range with styles including jeans, denim jackets, shirts, t-shirts and sweats for both men and women. The range is available in three colors: one colorway originating from upcycled beetroot food waste; and two originating from saw palmetto leaves, leftover from the herbal industry.

G-Star says it takes a holistic approach to sustainability, combining optimized design with eco-friendly fibers — such as organic cotton, recycled cotton and TENCEL™ — with EarthColors® by Archroma dyestuff and sustainable washing techniques. Since 2006, G-Star has been on a mission to future-proof denim, by investing in sustainable innovations, aiming for a circular approach to how denim is made-and-used, in a transparent manner.

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The Dyed by Nature collection is available in-store and online as of July 2019.

Gap Inc. set to release waterless dyed denim in 2020

Image credit: Gap, Inc

Meanwhile, Gap Inc. has announced an initiative to produce denim using a waterless, indigo foam-dyeing technique, starting with a partnership between Banana Republic and Spanish denim mill Tejidos Royo

The new process, called Dry Indigo®, can reduce water usage by up to 99 percent, while also using 89 percent less chemicals, reducing energy usage by 65 percent, and eliminating water discharge when compared to the traditional slasher indigo (or sheet dyeing) process.

“Leveraging this revolutionary new dyeing process directly supports Gap Inc.’s manufacturing goal to conserve 10 billion liters of water by the end of 2020, as well as Banana Republic’s recently unveiled sustainability goals to produce eco-friendly denim, reduce water impact and promote cleaner chemistry,” said Gap Inc.’s EVP of Global Sourcing, Christophe Roussel. “Tejidos Royo is a trusted partner and true pioneer in sustainable innovation. We are thrilled to work with them on this exciting new venture and have no doubt that this will change the future of denim manufacturing.”

Gap joins the likes of Patagonia and Wrangler, which have also been working to optimize dyeing processes and technologies in order to minimize water use and environmental impacts. Utilizing a foam dye that adheres to yarn, the transformative Dry Indigo® technique produces a denim fabric that is comparable in hand-feel, aesthetic, performance and washability to traditionally dyed denim. The Banana Republic denim with Dry Indigo® will be available through a special collection for both men and women in Spring 2020. Both lines will include selectively sourced and sustainable pocketing and trims, such as 100 percent Global Recycle Standard (GRS)-certified recycled poly zipper tape. The manufacturing will be done at Saitex — a state-of-the-art, sustainable factory that recycles 98 percent of the water it uses. 

Currently, the Dry Indigo® process is exclusive to Tejidos Royo, and Banana Republic is one of the first brands to pilot the technology. Creating the ground-breaking process required ten years of collaborative research with Gaston Foam Systems and Indigo Mills Designs before its launch. The foam-dyeing technique occurs in a space of less than 65 feet — compared to the hundreds of feet that is typically necessary for a traditional dyeing machine — thereby significantly reducing energy needs.  

The apparel industry is one of the largest and most intensive users of water. In response, Gap has worked closely with supply chain partners to implement numerous water-saving initiatives. In 2016, Gap brand introduced Washwell™ — a smart denim wash program that has enabled the company to save over 229 million liters of water compared to conventional wash methods; the company recently announced it has saved 5.7 billion liters of water through combined efforts so far. Banana Republic is set to adopt the Washwell™ program in 2020.  

Earlier this month, Gap Inc. announced that it will derive 100 percent of its cotton — across all brands — from sustainable sources by 2025. The initiative will include sourcing cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative that is organic, recycled and verified as American or Australian grown. In addition, Gap CEO Art Peck recently announced that Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic are launching denim with 5 percent post-consumer, mechanically recycled cotton content. Gap and Old Navy will launch their recycled cotton denim in Holiday 2019, with Banana Republic launching in Spring 2020.