Kontoor Brands announced the launch of its Global Design Standards, a three-part guide to reducing the environmental and social implications of its legacy denim brands Lee and Wrangler.
The standards are Kontoor's method of addressing the biggest value chain factors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and chemical use, acting as a guide for its designers and product developers. Three topics—preferred materials, low-impact textiles, and low-impact finishing—are the main focus of the standards.
The material must be supported by evidence verifying its effects on the environment and society in order to be included on Kontoor's Preferred Materials List. To ensure "transparent and robust materials claims," Kontoor's responsible materials policies are applicable to all vendors and material suppliers. This covers regulations for prohibited compounds, cotton fiber sourcing, conflict minerals, and items obtained from animals and the forest.
70% of the fabric materials used in a product must come from Kontoor's Preferred Materials List in order for it to comply with the Global Design Standards for preferred materials.
The amount of freshwater used to produce a cloth determines how low-impact it is. To comply with the Global Design Standards, a fabric must originate from a denim mill that has reduced freshwater consumption from a baseline of 2018–2019 by at least 90 percent. Through the company's certification procedure, the Kontoor Indigood procedure, which it introduced in 2021, the savings must be independently confirmed by a third party.
The Environmental Impact Measure (EIM) tool from Jeanologia, which evaluates water, energy, chemical, and worker health sectors, will be used by Kontoor to determine low-impact finishing. The EIM tool's "low impact" scoring criteria are met by scores in order to meet Kontoor's low-impact finishing requirement.
Jeff Frye, Kontoor Brands VP, of sustainability, innovation, product development, and procurement, said as a company that produces millions of products each year, Kontoor has the potential to guide the industry toward meaningful change.
The standards will involve the entire organization. The guidelines will be used by Kontoor's design and product development teams to pick the fabrics and construction techniques with care. The company's sourcing and procurement divisions will make sure that supply chain partners work together to implement the requirements set by Kontoor.
The standards also have a consumer-facing aspect. Products that adhere to the Global Design Standards will be marked with a "WeCare Wrangler" label, initially appearing on Wrangler.com. Products must adhere to one of Kontoor's three Global Design Standards in order to receive the badge.
Later this year, the "For A World That Works" global sustainability platform will introduce a comparable initiative for the Lee brand.
Frye added that their ability to address product stages that affect both people and the environment is made possible by their Global Design Standards. While their initial goal is for each of their goods to adhere to one of the three standards, they are constantly working to raise the bar on innovation and sustainability in order to enhance our products' sustainability performance.
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