From saffron to indigo, berry to sumac, nature has always provided us with ways to transfer colours on to fabric. Dyes have been derived for millennia from fruits, petals, barks and vegetables, offering myriad opportunities to create beautiful hues without the use of artificial dyes.
Synthetic dyes were introduced into the textile industry in the 19th century, offering mass production of intense colours. But the chemicals used to produce those synthetic dyes can pollute rivers, with the runoff from factories using artificial dyes often containing formaldehyde, mercury and lead.
That said, large-scale natural dye production can use large amounts of water, which is why we advocate supporting small brands and investing in one-off products you’ll love for years. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite brands using resources safely and sustainably.
If you’re searching for natural baby products, made with care both for children and the environment, meet Hevea. The brand uses natural rubber and plant pigments to create safe, colourful products for baby – we’ll be adding the super cute Kawan Mini Coloured Rubber Duck in dusty mint to bathtime.
Swiss luxury cashmere brand Christina Kramer opts to use only plant dyes, or not use dyes at all, in her knitwear collections. Instead, they embrace the yarn’s natural colours, which range from greys to ochres, chocolate to black, depending upon the regions from which they are sourced, making each piece one of a kind. We love this classic sweater.
Thread Tales‘ richly-coloured clothing and accessories are made with eco-dyes which have a lesser impact on the environment. The business also ensures water used in the dying process is disposed of responsibly. This handwoven, dip-dyed Ocean Serenity Kaftan is perfect for slipping on poolside or for evening drinks on vacation.
Each item of clothing from Spanish brand Sidikai is made to order, reducing waste and ensuring no resources are consumed unnecessarily. They use natural, plant-based dyes and send care instructions to make sure each piece stays beautiful and wearable for years to come.
From their workshop in the Tibetan plateau, Norlha makes ultra-soft Yak wool textiles, from scarves to blankets to cushions. Their small dye workshop is designed to be safe for both the workers and its surroundings, and the business selects low-impact dyes for its hyper-luxurious products. We’re dreaming of napping under their hand-spun, handwoven Berry Fields Blanket.