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Wrangler Pushes for a More Circular Cotton Supply Chain

By Andrew Rurik

As the fashion industry, and fast fashion companies in particular, come increasingly under scrutiny, many retailers and clothing manufacturers are looking at their sourcing and supply chains to ensure sustainability from the first mile to the customer purchase. Wrangler is one such retailer; the brand recently announced a global call to action for cotton farmers who can demonstrate and document soil health and biodiversity improvements to apply in order to partner with it on the launch of a new jean.

This new Wrangler jean is a part of The Jeans Redesign, an initiative spearheaded by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF). This initiative established guidelines on the minimum requirements for durability, material health, recyclability, and traceability of denim jeans, with over 40 denim experts providing insight. To date, over 50 notable brands, manufacturers, and fabric mills have signed on to this initiative and are using these guidelines to produce new jeans for purchase this fall.

In addition to joining up with The Jeans Redesign, Wrangler has added a new dimension of circularity to its stated commitment to source 100 percent sustainably grown cotton by 2025. The brand will do so by joining the EMF’s Make Fashion Circular Initiative, which exists to drive collaboration between apparel industry leaders to ensure that clothes are made from safe, renewable materials, that new business models increase their use, and that old clothes are turned into new.

“A circular economy is symbiotic with regenerative agricultural practices,” Roian Atwood, Senior Director, Global Sustainable Business at Wrangler, said in an emailed statement to TriplePundit. “Wrangler is amplifying our commitment with this call to action as we work with farmers to rapidly scale the supply of sustainably-grown cotton. For this project, we’re looking for the best of the best.”

Wrangler’s new commitments here fall in line with its stated values — to explore new ways to care for the land that feeds and clothes people, the brand’s partners and workers across its supply chain, and finally, people around the world.

These new commitments are also not the first step Wrangler says it has taken to build a more resilient, regenerative cotton supply. In 2017, Wrangler introduced the Wrangler Science and Conservation Program, a coalition of industry experts, farmers, and non-profit partners who sponsor research and education on soil health farming practices. When implemented, these methods have been shown to increase yield, reduce water and energy burden, fight erosion, and reintroduce more carbon into the soil.

“Over the last 100-150 years, many of our most productive agricultural soils have lost 40-60 percent of their precious organic carbon back into the atmosphere,” Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute, said. “Restoring carbon back into the soil with regenerative agriculture is one of the greatest opportunities we have to address both climate change and the financial well-being of farmers. We hope more brands will follow Wrangler’s lead and produce climate beneficial clothing.”

Farmers looking to participate in Wrangler’s “Regenerative Jean” collection are being asked to submit evidence of improvements to soil health and the resulting environmental benefits of adopting regenerative agricultural systems. The Soil Health Institute is chairing an external panel to review partner submissions, looking at benchmarks like improvements in soil carbon, soil physical properties, biological properties and ancillary benefits to the environment.

Image credit: Wrangler

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Andrew Rurik is a filmmaker, focusing on brand strategy for brands and businesses working on conservation issues, as well as sustainability technology and innovation. He's often found in the mountains or at the beach with dog, Kona. He likes his music too loud and subscribes to too many podcasts. Andrew is also a fan of great stories, great movies, and great whiskey. Learn more about him through is agency, Third Shift Creative, and you can subscribe to his podcast, too.


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