Wrangler: Proudly Naming Names In Jeans, T-Shirt Supply Chain

(left): The Wrangler Rooted Collection™  features five state-specific pairs of jeans — the Alabama Jean, the Georgia Jean, the North Carolina Jean, the Tennessee Jean and the Texas Jean
The Wrangler Rooted Collection™ features five state-specific pairs of jeans — the Alabama Jean, the Georgia Jean, the North Carolina Jean, the Tennessee Jean and the Texas Jean

Wrangler recently announced The Wrangler Rooted Collection™, a jeans and T-shirt program featuring cotton garments grown, milled, cut and sewn in the United States.

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For more than 70 years, Greensboro, N.C.-based Wrangler® has been committed to bringing consumers authentic American style through its apparel collections for men, women and children in jeanswear and casualwear. Recently however, the company has taken “Authentic American” a step further as it introduced The Wrangler Rooted Collection™. Wrangler is proudly naming names in its U.S.-based jeans and T-shirt supply chains beginning with family-owned cotton farms in five southern states and moving through the textile and apparel manufacturing supply chain, largely located in Georgia and the Carolinas.

Origins Of The Program

As an iconic western-wear brand, Wrangler has worked closely with the ranching community for decades and was inspired by ranchers who are at the forefront of land stewardship and regenerative agriculture. The company began exploring ways it could integrate such stewardship thinking into its own cotton supply chain.

The idea for the Rooted Collection was conceived of by the Wrangler Science and Conservation team — a collaborative group of scientists, farmers, nonprofits and industry experts working to identify and encourage best practices for land stewardship to maintain healthier soils and more viable and productive farms. This team helped Wrangler contract with some of the most sustainable cotton producers in the United States for the Rooted Collection.

“The Wrangler Rooted Collection reflects our commitment to strengthening local communities and supporting U.S. farmers,” said Tom Waldron, president, Wrangler. “Equally important, the introduction of this collection aligns with our goal to continually improve the environmental performance and traceability of our products.”

Cotton Grown In The USA

The Rooted Collection features five state-specific pairs of jeans — the Alabama Jean, the Georgia Jean, the North Carolina Jean, the Tennessee Jean and the Texas Jean — and the sustainable cotton used for each state’s jean is fully traceable to a family farm in that state:

  • The Alabama Jean — Newby Family Farms, Athens, Ala;
  • The Georgia Jean — McLendon Acres, Leary, Ga;
  • The North Carolina Jean — Lassiter Family Farms, Conway, N.C.;
  • The Tennessee Jean — Pugh Farms, Halls, Tenn.; and
  • The Texas Jean — Vance and Mandie Smith, Big Spring, Texas.

The design for each state-specific jean includes a unique wash, as well as trim and patch details featuring the state’s silhouette and other embellishments.

In addition, the collection includes two T-shirt designs for each state, as well as three national designs.

“The family farms supplying cotton to the Rooted Collection are the first growers in the Wrangler Science and Conservation program, which advocates for land stewardship and soil health best practices,” said Roian Atwood, director of sustainability, Wrangler. “These science-backed methods build crop resilience to weather disruptions while improving yield, reducing water and energy inputs, fighting erosion, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Wrangler aims to source 100 percent of its cotton from farms using land stewardship practices by 2025.”

A Healthy Textile/Apparel Supply Chain

Yarn and denim fabric used in the jeans collection is woven by Maudlin, S.C.-based Mount Vernon Mills at its Trion, Ga., plant. The company has been in continuous operation for more than 150 years and operates 13 production facilities making a wide range of products.

“As a longtime and trusted Wrangler supplier, we knew Mount Vernon would be the perfect partner for this collection,” Atwood said. “Mount Vernon ensured the yarn and fabric was kept traceable to the farmer by keeping the cotton laydowns separate through the carding process and into spinning. They cleaned out the machines between each run to ensure each state fabric was 100-percent made from each state’s cotton.”

The denim is cut and sewn by El Paso, Texas-based Excel Manufacturing, a garment manufacturer that opened its doors in 1977. The company employs more than 150 associates and maintains a 62,000-square-foot main facility, 20,000-square-foot cutting facility and a 30,000-square-foot warehouse. Excel makes various garments for the military, well-known apparel brands, and has a tactical products line.

A T-Shirt From Field To Final Garment

The T-shirt program uses a North and South Carolina manufacturing supply chain and features cotton grown by fifth-generation farmers Vance and Mandie Smith in Big Springs, Texas. The Smiths have been caring for their family’s land for the past 13 years and focus on sustainable farming methods and soil health.

The Wrangler Rooted Collection™ features T-shirts manufactured using a 100-percent U.S.-based supply chain.

The Smith’s cotton is spun into yarn by Kings Mountain, N.C.-based Patrick Yarns Inc. Patrick was founded in 1963 and has continued to invest in state-of-art spinning technology. Interestingly, according to the company, Patrick Yarns’ legacy can be traced to the American War for Independence. According to the company: “Patrick family ancestors participated in the key battle of Kings Mountain, N.C., in which the British were soundly defeated. This tradition of rising to challenges and commitment to success is carried on by the current family ownership, and the main plants are still located [in Kings Mountain] today.”

Lumberton, N.C.-based Contempora Fabrics knits Patrick’s yarn into fabric for the T-shirts. Contempora is an employee-owned circular knitter founded in 1972. The company has more than 200 machines and a 2-million-pound-per-month capacity.

The knit fabric is dyed and finished by Gaffney, S.C.-based Carolina Cotton Works (CCW). Founded in March 1995, CCW’s primary focus is on dyeing and finishing knits and wovens for the apparel industry, however the company also serves non-apparel markets.

The dyed cotton knit fabric is cut and sewn into T-shirts by Andrews, S.C.-based Palmetto Apparel Service, and printed by Burlington, N.C.-based TS Designs — founded in 1977 as a small manual screen printer that grew over time into a fully automated printer with an environmentally conscious mind-set.

Full Transparency

The Wrangler Rooted Collection takes the unusual step of revealing the various members of the supply chains from cotton farm to finished product. In most instances, supply chain information is kept confidential and is often considered a competitive advantage. However, Wrangler has created a unique opportunity for the consumer to make a choice — to know and understand the origins of the garment they are purchasing and the farms and manufacturers they are supporting. “Authentic American” through and through.

May/June 2019