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Lenzing Unveils Sustainable Indigo Color Technology for Denim

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Tracey Meyers
·4 min read
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Blue is always green for Austria-based fiber firm Lenzing, which just unveiled its latest venture in sustainable denim. Lenzing said its new Indigo Color technology for Tencel branded Modal fibers aims to elevate and enhance sustainability in the denim industry by reducing time, waste and resources from the dyeing process.

Its Tencel branded Modal fiber is made from beech wood derived from sustainably managed wood sources — combined with its Indigo Color technology, the end result is a one-step spun-dyeing process that delivers indigo color whilst using substantially fewer resources, the firm said. The new technology has been awarded the EU Ecolabel for meeting high environmental standards throughout its life cycle, as well as designation as BioPreferred by the United States Department of Agriculture.

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So, how does it work? Lenzing’s technology uniquely incorporates indigo pigment directly into Tencel branded Modal fibers, which ultimately enables superior colorfastness relative to conventional indigo dyeing, and uses substantially fewer resources, Lenzing said. Its color retention is resilient through dry and wet crocking and rubbing, and the technology is prized for its overall versatility, as it can easily be implemented into a range of multi-fiber blends.

Green jeans

What’s more, though, is the ability to provide indigo coloration with substantial savings for water, chemicals and electricity, as well as diminished wastewater production — all without the use of heat energy.

The firm explained that the denim industry’s demand for eco-responsible alternatives is “growing rapidly as brands and supply chain partners seek greater sustainability.” And as such, Lenzing said it has been working closely with like-minded partners, whose “practices that counteract environmentally harmful denim production processes via the botanic origin of its raw materials and responsible production processes.”

Lenzing added that a specially commissioned indigo pigment from dyestuff manufacturer DyStar ensures that its Tencel Modal with Indigo Color technology can be certified with Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex, which guarantees ultra-low levels of aniline, an organic base used to make dyes and other materials.

Günther Widler, head of technology, Denim, of DyStar, said, “This specially commissioned indigo pigment is based on more than a decade of our working experiences on Indigo Synthesis in Germany. Twenty-five years ago, we invented the most eco awarded DyStar Indigo Vat 40 percent to meet the demand for sustainable manufacturing and production.”

And Florian Heubrandner, vice president, Global Textiles Business at Lenzing AG, said, “Innovation is at the core of what we do, from sustainable fiber sourcing through industry-leading features and production processes, with the ever-present goal of safeguarding our environment.”

“By upending traditional manufacturing processes and implementing our pioneering technology along with renewable and eco-responsible materials, Tencel Modal with Indigo Color technology sets a new benchmark for indigo application and sustainability in the denim industry.”

Early adopters

Leave it to Lenzing to hit the ground running. Among its early launch collaborators for Tencel Modal with Indigo Color technology is Adriano Goldschmied, founder of House of Gold, widely recognized in industry circles as the “Godfather of Denim” for his storied design career in the sector.

Goldschmied said, “The Tencel brand is leading a revolutionary change for the denim industry and it has always been one of my go-to eco-fibers for my collections. We are thrilled to collaborate and launch the ‘Seed of Joy’ concept capsule with woven, circular, and sweater knit fabrics using Tencel Modal with Indigo Color technology, in partnership with mills such as Blue Diamond and In The Loop, as well as machinery producer Shima Seiki.”

Lenzing partnered with denim mills Candiani and Cond Denim to bring its Tencel Modal with Indigo Color to life. Alberto Candiani, global manager, Candiani, said, “With driving sustainability at our core, we look forward to a fruitful collaboration with the production of this eco-responsible fiber type. Tencel Modal with Indigo Color technology also represents a great product to expand denim’s performances and aesthetics around sustainability itself.”

Steve Maggard, president of Cone Denim, said that Lenzing “has long been an industry leader in sustainable fibers. With consumers being more eco-conscious, the denim industry has to evolve and innovate in smarter materials to stay efficient and competitive. We are proud to partner with the Tencel brand to launch Indigo Color technology for modal fibers — and promote greater sustainability for denim.”

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