Kontoor Brands-owned Lee Jeans has developed a range of fully biodegradable jeans, and a denim collection produced using a waterless dyeing process to coincide with the launch of the brand’s first global sustainability platform.

Available from spring in select markets, the ‘Back to Nature’ collection is made from compostable linen – 85% cotton and 15% flax linen – comprising four items: a jacket and jeans for men and women, with removable and reusable buttons and rivets.

The collection forms part of Lee’s sustainability project ‘For a World That Works’, which centres on three main projects: technology-enabled eco-conscious design and manufacturing, sustainable production and finishing processes, and worker health and safety.

As part of this process, Lee has launched Indigood Denim, a signature denim collection that eliminates water from the denim dyeing process. The brand has replaced the traditional water vats and chemical baths of conventional indigo dyeing with a foam dye applicator, reducing the amount of water required by 100%, the energy required by 60% and the chemicals required by 89%.

“As one of the most iconic denim brands in the world, the Lee brand understands its responsibility to help lead our industry toward a better future,” says Chris Waldeck, EVP and global brand president, Lee. “Our new sustainability platform is the roadmap that will guide our actions and help drive meaningful progress toward more positive environmental and social impacts.”

In 2019, Lee partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign. By forming guidelines that reduce waste associated with denim production, establishing requirements for jean durability and recyclability, and ensuring positive impacts on the environment, the initiative is transforming the brand’s approach to design, Lee says. The guidelines are being integrated into an internal assessment tool used to measure the sustainability performance of Lee products.

The new sustainability platform will expand globally in the coming months. The brand is also collaborating with industry experts and external stakeholders to create global sustainability goals, which are expected to be announced later this year.