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Collaborations, technology could make indigo dyeing more sustainable


Collaborations technology could make indigo dyeing moreWith smooth fabrics and innovative designs, designer Adriano Goldschmied’s new indigo sweater demonstrates an innovative approach to indigo dyeing. As per a Business of Fashion report, instead of coloring the cotton yarn from outside, the indigo dye was added by Austria-based Lenzing AG during its creation of eco-friendly cellulose fiber Tencel Modal. The T-shirt made from this fiber has designs demonstrating its reduced water, chemical, electricity and energy use. It helps designers reduce the environmental impact of their clothes besides offering more designing options.

Waste creation makes indigo dyeing a messy process

Even though denim brands have lately being using natural dyes obtained from plants and animals, dyeing continues to be a messy process. It requires around 70,000 tons of indigo dye annually. Most of this dye eventually ends up as waste as it is removed after the stitching of denim to give it a faded look. This amplifies the environmental effects by consuming more water and chemicals, and producing ample waste.

Since the late 1990s, there have been many improvements in the process of indigo dyeing. Denim brand Jeanologia launched computer-driven laserCollaborations technology could make indigo dyeing more sustainable equipment to produce the distressed looks sought by designers. Initially, the designs produced through this process looked too simple, explains Gary You, Director-Strategy and Product Development, House of Gold, Goldschmied’s Los Angeles-based design and supply-chain agency.

Ozone dyed fibers for a distressed look

Graphic designers gave denims a subtle effect by using the gray-scale. They later used Ozone rather than water and bleach to achieve the stone-washed effect. This helped reduce environmental impacts and make denim production more flexible. Ozone also makes Lenzing’s new indigo fibre commercially feasible as it does not shed color unlike traditional indigo-dyed yarn.

Ozone-dyed fibers also help manufacturers give fabrics a distressed look as consumers loved blue shade. House of Gold meanwhile, combines treatments and techniques to give denim the desired shade of medium blue.

The dyeing process usually starts with fabrics of darker shades being repeatedly washed to reduce its color effect. House of Gold reduces its denim dyeing time from 60 to 25 minutes by substituting traditional dyes with an ozone wash for a specially dyed denim. The process also enables the company reduce energy and water use by eliminating three to four wash cycles.

The indigo dyeing process traces its origins in human drives that long predate the current fashion markets. Since long, textile manufacturers and industry leaders have been seeking natural dyes to maintain the beauty of their garments. They need to collaborate with environmental torch-bearers and sustainability lovers to make indigo dyeing truly sustainable.