Where was my new pair of jeans manufactured? Who did the sewing and assembly? How was it dyed? And, more aligned with our own personal interests: where did the cotton come from? Wrangler has a new line out, called the Rooted line, that answers those questions.
Denim is made from cotton, and producing cheap cotton often comes with some major negative environmental impacts. Cotton growing and processing requires a lot of water; the World Wildlife Fund estimates that each kilogram of cotton requires about 20,000 liters of water. Cotton is also frequently doused with fertilizers and pesticides; not necessarily more than any other crop, but that’s still an environmental concern. And cotton itself drains nutrients from the soil, especially nitrogen, making it hard for other plants to grow and sometimes requiring new land entirely.
But as with any crop, there are plenty of ways to mitigate the potential damage caused by cotton. Wrangler’s Rooted line sources its cotton exclusively from American farms using sustainable practices like cover crops, crop rotation, no-till techniques, and various efforts to reduce water and energy use (like using renewable energy).
The Rooted line consists of five collections, each using a single family farm from, and branded with, a different state. The first two available are from Vance and Mandie Smith, of Big Spring, Texas, and the Newby Family Farm from Athens Alabama. Each pair of jeans has a signature of the farm that produced its cotton, and on the button fly, has that farm’s state imprinted. Soon to come are collections from Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia—all major cotton-producing states. The jeans cost $99, and there are also t-shirts selling for $34.
The production all happens in the US, too: the cotton is turned into denim at a mill in Georgia, and the jeans are assembled in Texas.
Wrangler says this isn’t just a one-off line; the company aims to source 100 percent of its cotton from farms using good environmental practices by 2025. In the meantime, you can check out the line here.