The future of indigo dying jeans is now foam. Manufacturers are now breaking with the usual wasteful methods of jeans production providing a positive solution to the environment. Wrangler, along with jeans company Lee, was an early investor in a new method of denim dyeing, developed at Texas Tech, that foregoes the yards of dye vats for a more streamlined process that transmits indigo dye via foam. Not only does the foam dyeing method do away with the potential for water waste at the end of the manufacturing process, which is one of the most environmentally damaging aspects of one of the world’s most resource-intensive industries, but it drives down energy usage, too.
Using foam, a team at the university’s Fiber & Biopolymer Research Institute has developed a way to successfully apply indigo dye to cotton yarns. The small-scale, controlled system reduces the amount of water required and lessens the time it takes to complete the process.
Dean Ethridge, a research professor with Tech’s Department of Plant and Soil Science, is leading the effort. The foam dyeing process requires 60% less energy and mitigates waste by the same percentage. The new method, which they call “Indigood,” eliminates over 99% of water from the dyeing process. In the foam-dyeing method, the yarn is passed through three chambers, where its sprayed with foam infused with indigo dye. The chambers are completely sealed and filled with nitrogen, which helps the dye absorb into the yarn. To roll out this innovative new dyeing process, Wrangler worked with a mill in Valencia, Spain called Tejidos Royo, that became the first textile operation to host the new method.