Transforming cotton dyeing through

the Polo Ralph Lauren ECOFAST Pure Team USA Polo Bear Hoodie

As we saw the potential for ECOFAST™ Pure growing, we looked for a leader in the fashion industry who… had mutually ambitious sustainability goals and a vision for positive change.

Like most production processes, achieving the colors that consumers want in fashion doesn’t come without a cost to natural resources. Textile dyeing is the second largest cause of water pollution in the world and uses five trillion liters of water each year, or nearly enough to supply all of humanity with drinking water.

We shared in a previous case study how we worked closely with Cotton Incorporated to understand and validate ECOFAST™ Pure Sustainable Textile Treatment as one innovation to help address these challenges. As a pretreatment in the cotton dyeing process, this technology significantly reduces the amount of water and chemicals needed to color cotton – along with less energy use and up to 60% reduction in carbon footprint.

A few years ago, on nearly the same timeline, Ralph Lauren also set out to find a way to evolve traditional cotton dyeing practices and create a more sustainable and efficient process that was also scalable for the fashion and textile industry. In order to achieve this mission, they looked for leaders from different fields, including Dow, to help reimagine each step of the cotton dyeing process. These efforts led to Ralph Lauren’s new Color on Demand platform, which is powered by ECOFAST™ Pure.


As we saw the potential for ECOFAST™ Pure growing, we looked for a leader in the fashion industry who could be a partner to optimize and scale the technology in their dyeing operations – a partner who had mutually ambitious sustainability goals and a vision for positive change.


In 2018, we joined forces with Ralph Lauren to bring together our complementary expertise. From Ralph Lauren, a wealth of industry knowledge and a focus on designing timeless style. And from Dow, a deep understanding of materials science and chemistry.


Since then, we’ve worked hand-in-hand on making phase one of Ralph Lauren’s Color on Demand platform a reality – integrating ECOFAST Pure into its existing dyeing processes and becoming the first fashion brand to apply this technology.


As an Official Outfitter of Team USA, Ralph Lauren launched their most sustainable collection yet for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. This collection debuts ECOFAST™ Pure for the first time in a line of clothing at scale and demonstrates the possibilities of Color on Demand.


To help enable this, our technical teams worked alongside Ralph Lauren in textile mills around the world to optimize the chemistry in their unique processes. The result is over 15 cotton styles throughout the Team USA collection, including villagewear and opening ceremony pieces, that were dyed using:

  • 85% less process chemicals
  • 55% less water
  • 60% less energy

We will continue working with Ralph Lauren to achieve their goal of using Color on Demand in more than 80% of their solid cotton products by 2025.


Transforming the dyeing process in a well-established industry like textiles is a journey that takes close collaboration and a commitment to scalable solutions. Together, we’ve worked side-by-side through the challenges that come with dye recipe tweaking, color matching, a global pandemic and more.


This fall, in partnership with Ralph Lauren, we will open-source a detailed manual on how to use ECOFAST Pure with typical dyeing equipment at the mill. It’s our hope that this tool encourages industry adoption and ultimately standardizes a shift toward more sustainable dyeing practices and sustainable fashion practices.


As ECOFAST™ Pure is only phase one of Color on Demand, we encourage you to follow the story as Ralph Lauren continues to reimagine the coloring process and work towards its ambition to deliver the world’s first scalable zero wastewater cotton dyeing system.


Learn more about Color on Demand, ECOFAST™ Pure and the Dow-IOC Carbon Partnership.

Learn more about how ECOFAST™ Pure helps make a bold difference addressing water pollution and scarcity in the 2020 Environmental, Social and Governance Report.