Ralph Lauren to Offer the Industry Color on Demand System

Lisa Lockwood
·4 min read

Ralph Lauren plans to offer the industry Color on Demand, a system that seeks to deliver the world’s first scalable zero wastewater cotton dyeing system.

In partnership with Dow, they have developed a detailed manual, where they are open-sourcing the first phase of Color on Demand, a system that seeks to deliver the world’s first scalable zero wastewater cotton dyeing system. The manual, which is free, will be released in the coming months.

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As reported in March, Lauren introduced Color on Demand, a multiphase system to transform how the fashion industry dyes cotton.

Speaking Monday at the Bloomberg Green Summit with Sheila Bonini, senior vice president, private sector engagement at the World Wildlife Fund, Patrice Louvet, chief executive officer of Ralph Lauren, said it’s their hope and expectation to see broad adoption of Color on Demand. “So that altogether as an industry we can transform water stewardship, wherever we operate. And that this also serves as a catalyst for more innovation like this that positively impacts both our industry and the planet,” Louvet said.

The CEO noted that generally the industry is characterized by competition and exclusivity. “And I think we all realize that there are things that we need to do on our own, but if we’re truly committed to safeguarding our planet, we have to break down those barriers, and we have to come together. And that’s why we felt it was important to share with the industry what we’ve learned and what we’ve created.”

Brendy Lange, business vice president of Dow, said, “Innovation is critical to addressing world challenges — yet technology alone can’t deliver the change needed to protect our planet’s resources. By working with partners who complement our materials science skillset and have strong sustainability ambitions, like Ralph Lauren, we can help realize the positive benefits of innovation at scale. Open sourcing this dyeing process with EcoFast Pure will help others accelerate sustainable change.”

As reported, each year, trillions of liters of water are used for fabric dyeing alone, generating some 20 percent of the world’s wastewater, according to a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Circular Fibers Initiative. This untreated wastewater is extremely polluting and traditionally requires rigorous, lengthy and costly treatment to make the water reusable. In an effort to address water scarcity and pollution caused by cotton dyeing, Color on Demand is a system composed of a set of technologies that will enable the recycling and reuse of all water from the dyeing process. In addition to sizable water savings, Color on Demand significantly reduces the amount of chemicals, dye, time and energy used in the process. Color on Demand also provides a more efficient and sustainable way to color cotton at any point in product manufacturing, rather than at the outset, which is a first for the industry. This will enable shorter lead times for making product color decisions.

As reported in March, Halide Alagöz, chief product and sustainability officer at Ralph Lauren, said, “Traditional color dyeing is one of the most polluting practices in our industry and as a global brand, we recognized the need to create a scalable solution. Color on Demand significantly reduces the environmental impact of dyeing cotton, and as an added benefit, will enable us to better balance inventory and meet personalized consumer demands faster than ever before.”

To develop this, Lauren brought together four leading innovators in their respective fields, including Dow in materials science; Jeanologia, in sustainable solutions for garment and fabric finishing, with expertise in dyeing and close loop water treatment systems; Huntsman Textile Effects, which specializes in textile dyes and chemicals, and Corob, a technology leader in dispensing and mixing solutions to reimagine each state of the coloring process.

The manual will focus on how to use EcoFast Pure with existing dyeing equipment. EcoFast Pure is a pre-treatment solution developed by Dow for cotton textiles. When used with existing dyeing equipment, EcoFast Pure enables the use of up to 40 percent less water, 85 percent fewer chemicals, 90 percent less energy and a 60 percent reduction in carbon footprint compared to traditional cotton dyeing processes. Lauren is integrating this process into its supply chain and will launch product using this technology later this year.

Last June, WWD reported that Lauren teamed with the World Wildlife Fund to drive progress toward the company’s goal of reducing water use across its operations and value chain by 20 percent by 2025.

“Water scarcity and pollution are important issues for the fashion industry, and through our partnership with Ralph Lauren we are working toward addressing these challenges,” Bonini said. “Technology has the ability to accelerate change at a scale that matters, so it’s exciting to see Ralph Lauren establishing innovative new models that transform outdated practices and can deliver measurable outcomes for people and planet. This is exactly the kind of leadership we need to see from the fashion industry.”

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Ralph Lauren Seeks to Transform How Fashion Industry Dyes Cotton

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