Philipp Meister
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One million yards of water-saving DryDye fabric – and counting!

One million yards of water-saving DryDye fabric – and counting!

I have recently taken part in the adidas Group global material summit, a meeting attended by around 30 representatives working in various functions within the adidas Group such as material development, sourcing and quality to review and update their strategy in alignment with the Group strategy. This year, we had something special to celebrate: in fact, the adidas brand has reached 1 million yards of DryDye fabric produced! Thanks to the DryDye technology we’re able to save the 25 liters of water per Tshirt that are usually needed in the dyeing process. To mark this impressive achievement, we decided that our summit would include a visit to the Yeh Group, adidas Group DryDye fabric supplier based in Thailand.

Read on to find out more about DryDye and its development…

In case you are not familiar with the term DryDye, this is one of the key sustainable innovations for the adidas brand, and a game changer in the textile dyeing industry (find out more in my last blog post). The technology eliminates the use of water during the dyeing process, but as well reduces the use of chemicals and energy by 50%.

Think about it: it normally takes 25 litres of water to color one shirt. With DryDye, this water can be saved. We first introduced the technology to the market in 2012, with a limited collection of 50,000 t-shirts. Then, we have gradually rolled out this technology across ranges and product categories – with major water savings in the dyeing process.

DryDye Infographic

adidas Performance Prime Tee

adidas Performance Prime Tee

For Spring/Summer 13, the majority of the fabric has been used for the adidas Performance Prime Tee, one of the best-selling, versatile, training t-shirts in the adidas sports performance range.

Over the last years, the adidas Group has actively supported the development of the DryDye technology in collaboration with the Yeh Group.

Thanks to this partnership, DryDye has made tremendous progress, especially in the last year. Applying the technology to one of our key products already means that in one year we have been able to take it to the next level as this is not a limited collection, but rather a full line of DryDye apparel that is now available globally. This is a clear sign that the production is truly scalable.

Molly, our Director Material sourcing, celebrates with David Yeh, Co-owner of the Yeh Group

Molly, our Director Material sourcing, celebrates with David Yeh, Co-owner of the Yeh Group

By using 1 million yards of DryDye fabric we have been able to save an impressive 25 million litres of water in the dyeing process! And this is only the beginning!

During our visit at the Yeh Group, we were able to see the process and benefits of DryDye first hand. The team built up already great expertise on this new technology. But, it is really a “learning by doing” process, as there is no other similar technology existing in the industry. The process is improved on a daily basis, literally.

It is also fascinating to see machines in full production: I have seen so many textile dyehouses in my career and they can be quite wet. The DryDye dyehouse is so clean. Other than in conventional dyeing the fabric is completely dry when released from the machine and there is no additional drying needed.

The DryDye technology is really a game changer and I am extremely proud to be part of the team that is working on this project. It was great to meet the Yeh Group team, a very passionate team, and celebrate with them such an impressive milestone.

 

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  1. Waldemar Razik
    June 7, 2013 1:34 am

    Dear Philipp,

    I would like to thank you for sharing with us this story. As I’m reading the financial statements of the adidas group, sustainability seems to be an important issue even in the face challenges of the current markets.

    Paradoxically, ecological approach to the dying even if it costs additional capital can be beneficial for the company’s profits. I think that it is becoming important for the end users that Adidas and other brands within the group are ecologically responsible. Your story is helpful in achieving that communication goal.

    I’m not a branding expert, so maybe I have overlooked some of your campaigns. I am wondering how the concept of sustainability can be incorporated into messages about technological advancements (like micoach, smart ball, adizero shoes), sport performance and lifestyle lines of products. Do you think that you can convince PR or brand team to leverage the green dimension in standard branding messages of Adidas brands.

    Philip, you did a good thing writing about your work and implementation of DryDye from Yeh Group. Thank You

    Kind regards,

    Waldemar

  2. Dear Waldemar,

    Greetings from Germany, and many thanks for your comment! My name is Alexis Olans, and I head our sustainable product program here at adidas, called adidas Better Place. To give you a quick background, adidas Better Place is a collaboration of people and processes determined to do better for the world, globally and locally. We want to use our passion for sports to make the world a better place. Better Place includes our internal collaborations to bring to life sustainable innovations through our products. This includes the use of environmentally friendly materials, intelligent recycling, and resource-saving advancements (e.g. saving water and minimizing waste) in manufacturing. Better Place also includes projects that help improve our consumers’ local communities via grass roots activities, framed by the power of sport. This first category of projects – the internal collaborations to bring to life sustainable innovations in products – was what Philipp was referencing in his story about the operational success of having commercialized over 1 million yards of DryDye fabric by this May.

    To answer your question regarding consumer-facing messaging, you are correct that consumers are increasingly asking us for information regarding the sustainability of their products. In fact, studies show that teenagers who are interested in fashion and sport are disproportionately more interested in the topic of sustainability than their peers. As a result of hearing this request from our customers, adidas has been sharing the sustainable benefits of relevant products both via on-product communication, as well as via digital resources on our main website (accessible at http://www.adidas.com/com/goallin/, under “better place”). Stories that have been shared on this platform and in the media include: the launch of adidas’ most sustainable Olympic range ever, with 100% of all volunteer kit and over 70% on-field athlete competition wear including sustainable content; the commitment to sourcing 100% sustainable cotton (including both organic and BCI cotton) for all adidas Group product by 2018; the presence of environmentally preferred materials (recycled, bio-based, BCI and organic) in an increasing amount of apparel and in all of our footwear created in 2012. Stories shared on these platforms regarding waterless dying include: the introduction of adidas DryDye in 2012; the adidas by Stella McCartney’s design of a limited DryDye collection tee that year; and the incorporation of DryDye into one of our widest selling ranges, the adidas Prime Tee, in 2013. Our approach is to introduce this information to our consumers, and should they wish to learn more about it, provide the resources online for them to learn more.

    Thank you so much for your question, and I hope this has given you a bit more insight into how we talk about sustainability topics on-product and with our consumer base.

    All the best,

    Alexis Olans
    Senior Global Program Manager
    adidas Better Place, Innovation

  3. If there was ever a question of who is the leader in innovation and technology, it has been clarified. Now if only we could unify the world’s production of clothing in a similar manner, but small steps always lead to a better outcome.