7 Brands that Use Natural Fabric Dyes
Eco-friendly businesses built around principles of ethical, local, and sustainable production are leading the way when it comes to pioneering a green wave of positive change in the world. Individuals with a vision broader than just the bottom line can be found at the heart of this new movement in all sectors - from food production to health, healing, skin care, to home decor and fashion.
Here are a few brands, businesses and individuals working at the forefront of this shift:
Hailing from Sri Lanka, this small company produces handwoven vegan handbags, wallets, and totes inspired by a 300-year-old Sri Lankan weaving technique. These cheerful masterpieces have earned certifications for meeting high ecological standards. Leaves from the local hana (Agave Cantala) plant can be harvested without killing the plant and, after processing using traditional methods and wooden tools, soft, colourless fibres are manually extracted. Strong, but supple, these fibres accept eco dyes well and are the core material in Kantala’s line of sustainably produced bags. The fine white fibres are dyed using a combination of vegetable dyes (such as pods from the belleric tree) and eco-friendly reactive dyes, which are both OEKO TEX 100 and ISO certified.
Hailing from Kutch, India, Gold is Neutral is another small, independent manufacturer using sustainable materials and fair trade practices to make stylish handbags with classic designs and traditional methods. The Ajrakh block printing technique involves between around fifteen steps of rinsing, applying the resist, printing and dyeing. Members of the Khatri community (Khatri literally means ‘one who fills with colour’) practise the printing technique using traditional natural dyes made from fruit and vegetable skins, roots, tree barks, indigo, turmeric, and even rusty scrap metal. The finished Ajrakh pieces are jewel-coloured and the designs reflect a long history of using fabrics dyed in this manner for turbans and shawls. Always looking for planet-friendly alternatives, Gold is Neutral uses unique touches like a vegan leather alternative made from pineapple leaf fibre for detailing on some of their products.
This Australian company adores industrial hemp in part because every part of the plant has use and value. Yes, it’s the same genus as Cannabis sativa, but industrial hemp is a distinct strain with a unique biochemical composition. When you consider all the many and varied uses for hemp you realise it really is one of Mother Nature’s wondrous gifts to us. And, in case you are wondering, you can’t smoke hemp! All of the natural colours utilised in our hemp bedlinen, decor and fashion creations are hand eco-dyed in shibori or tie dye techniques using natural plants, tannins, and infusions, all of which are non-toxic and metal mordant free, which won’t cause damage to our waterways or lose excessive micro fibres when you wash in your washing machine.
Faye de Lanty is an incredible sustainable stylist and TV commentator from Sydney, Australia. She combs the Salvos stores in search of fabulous fashions, putting together cool outfits that she hopes will help shift the female fashion paradigm. Her blog is full of great ideas and well worth a visit. Faye is the Salvos Stores Ambassador and it’s hard not to be inspired by her eco stylish takes on repurposing donated items of apparel.
If you have a wedding in your future, you need to know about Australia’s first Ethical Clothing Australia accredited bridal label. Lenka Couture was born of a desire to reduce waste and create lasting positive change in the fashion industry by delivering couture bridal designs which don’t compromise on integrity. The Lenka Couture Instagram feed is proof that sustainable and ecologically friendly doesn’t mean you need to compromise when it comes to your special day.
This business printing company has a great slogan: Printing doesn’t have to cost the Earth. Ecoprint provides business printing services using vegetable-based inks in a low waste company environment. Requiring less than 95% of the traditional solvent-based clean-up methods used by mainstream printing companies, Ecoprint strives to be as gentle as possible when it comes to its environmental impact. Delivering throughout Australia, Ecoprint can help you every step of the way, from concept to design to help you hone in on your brand look and feel, whether you want to get your message across on business cards or billboards.
Who wouldn’t want to include optimistic jumpers and t-shirts with a retro style and a healthy dose of irony in their wardrobe? Bold and original, Lost Shapes creates hand-printed, sustainable clothing with truly funky and fun designs. Best of all, though, the inks they use don’t contain CFC’s, HCFC’s, aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile solvents, lead, heavy metals or any toxic chemicals whatsoever. Yes, these functional fashions are suitable for vegans (and anyone else with a passion for loving and nurturing our environment). These non-toxic dyes are water-based, which means equipment can be washed without resorting to solvents. Not only are the dyes and processes gentle on the Earth, the clothes are soft and pliable, which makes these garments kind to your skin. Don’t equate softness with fragility - once the dyed fabric has been heat fixed, it’s very durable and lasts many many washes.
For Small-Scale Producers
If you have a fashion product you are trying to bring to market, it can be a nightmare to try to navigate the world of foreign suppliers. 'Supply Compass' helps match designers with the best producers located all over the world. From design to delivery, Supply Compass finds and visits manufacturers no matter where they are located and then chooses to work only with those companies that meet their high standards. For anyone interested in slow fashion, eco-friendly production techniques, and ethical fashion labels you should be aware of, visit the Supply Compass website. It’s a great source of information (and inspiration) even if you aren’t in the production business yourself.
We know there are many more great brands using eco dyes. Contact Mandala Dream Co and share your experiences, ideas, and favourite brands with us. We are always interested in learning about companies and artisans using natural fabrics and dyeing techniques - drop us a note and share your finds down in the comments. We also love seeing photos of cool fashions that have been produced using sustainable methods - let’s see your coolest eco-fashion looks on Instagram. Post your fun fashion photos using the hashtag #madaladreamco so we can find you and get inspired!