Natural Fabric Dyes are Transforming Fashion

Creating bold, bright, and colorful dyes from algae.

Fashion week in New York City.

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Take a stroll down Fifth Avenue during New York City’s fashion week and you'll see models showing off the full spectrum of high fashion’s flashy colors, styles, and patterns. Fashion is more than just clothing,  it's an expression of identity, creativity, and of course, style. 

Now, a number of fashion companies are working on marrying fashion to sustainability, coming up with greener and cleaner ways to design clothing,reported Forbes. Algaeing is one of these businesses, marketing a toxin-free, sustainable dye. 

A sustainability symposium
In 2019, the fashion community united to save the Earth. The Mills Fabrica held a London-based symposium called Techstyle: Futures: Innovations for Global Change. Some of the world’s largest clothing manufacturers participated in the symposium, listening to innovative solutions that could revolutionize fashion.

Symposium participants felt a sense of duty and urgency in the need to change their business practices.“We have 12 years,” or 3,000 working days, left to tackle climate change,” Edwin Keh, CEO of Hong Kong Research Institute of Textile and Apparel and symposium presenter told Forbes.

Alga-Life, now called Algaeing, presented textiles made from biodegradable fibers and algae, that are sustainable and waste-free at the symposium.

Algae-based dye

No Camels reported that Algaeing is the brainchild of Renana Krebs who was influenced to build her company after learning about the harmful impacts of chemical dyes. Most chemical dyes contain carcinogens that harm textile workers. These dyes are also the second largest source of water pollution.

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Krebs told No Camels, “I was traveling in the Far East, and saw the rivers in all the colors of the next season. This was the point where I wanted to see how we can heal the textile industry and redesign it from within. So I literally quit my job and did a master’s in sustainable design.”

Algaeing  produces biodegradable and zero-waste dyes and textiles, made from algae, famous for their ability to “bloom” and dye lakes and beaches an array of blues, greens, and reds. 

A customer-friendly alternative
The goal of Algaeing is to be a customer-friendly alternative to non-sustainable dyes. The company sells its product to clothing manufacturers, offering an option of buying the raw ink, the dye, or even fully produced colored fibers. That way, the buyer doesn’t need to adjust their processes to include the sustainable materials. 

Whereas the dye is produced from algae, the fibers are created by mixing the algae with biodegradable, and zero-waste cellulose (plant fibers). Krebs explained that cotton requires agricultural land, fertilizer, pesticides, and a huge amount of irrigation. But algae is naturally appearing, and doesn’t create issues with pesticides or land use.

“At the end of the day, our innovation and technology is replacing the massive use of toxins and chemicals across the supply chain,” Krebs said.

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Sustainable PPE
Algaeing isn’t just making waves in the fashion community, according to Textile World. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the company partnered with PPE and medical manufacturer Avgol. Avgol is also a pioneer in sustainable, nonwoven fabrics.

The companies are working on medical and PPE products, combining the organic algae-based dye with the biodegradable polyolefins fabrics that Avgol brings to the table.

Krebs told Textile World, “We’re very excited to bring our technology into the realm of spunlaid nonwovens. The opportunities to utilize our technology in Avgol’s sustainable component materials and bring color, as well as the skin wellness attributes of algae-derived health benefits into personal care items, is an incredible opportunity to reduce the human impact around the world on a large scale.”

With possibly only a few years left to reign in climate change, Algaeing is bringing real, concrete solutions to the fashion industry that are available in the here and now. With the company’s innovative formula, commitment to sustainability, and business-friendly model, the fashion world now has alternatives for designing green clothing that comes in a variety of colors.

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