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Digital library for cleaner colours

Project aims to provide clarity on performance and scale to enable the industry to switch to sustainable options.

4th April 2023

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Amsterdam

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Amsterdam-based Fashion for Good is launching the Dyestuff Library, a digital tool enabling partners to choose sustainable dyes based on competitive performance and environmental metrics for commercial use.

The library is supported by Fashion for Good’s corporate partners adidas, Bestseller, Inditex, Otto Group, Patagonia, Paradise Textiles, Target, Welspun, and the latest partner, Shahi Exports, along with other supporting stakeholders.

Textile dyes were derived from nature before synthetic dyes, discovered by WH Perkin in 1856, revolutionised the textile industry. Today, 90% of clothing is synthetically dyed, but the toxic effects and ecological impact are extremely harmful to humans and the environment. Over the years, a significant amount of effort has gone into phasing out harmful chemistry and there are consistent efforts to develop non-hazardous chemistry. Today, many alternative dyes from natural sources such as plants, microorganisms, algae and recycled materials are available, but the lack of clarity on their performance and scale makes it difficult for the industry to switch to these sustainable options.

As part of the project, 15 selected dyestuff innovations will participate in lab and pilot trials over the course of a year, with extensive compliance and toxicity testing to ensure they are safe for commercial use. Testing and validating the performance of these innovative dyes and pigments on various textile substrates will be supported by Paradise Textiles and RDD Textiles and university and labs partners NimkarTek, Institute of Chemical Technology and UNICAMP. Participating Fashion for Good partners, textile experts and the ZDHC will also support the project and encourage the next steps for industry implementation.

After the completion of the project, Fashion for Good will continue developing the library with additional innovators, materials, fabric constructions, testing methods and colouration machineries.

“The shift towards a more sustainable industry happens when we share existing knowledge and give access to innovations with one another,” says Katrin Ley, Fashion for Good managing director. “Collaboration, not competition, will allow the industry to truly transform. We are excited for the launch of our Dyestuff Library project, which will make an extensive resource for the entire industry to use.” 

“We need dyeing innovation that focuses on less wasteful practices, reduces water usage and is less energy consuming,” adds Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, innovation manager at Bestseller. “To reach this, it is essential that the fashion industry supports initiatives with an upscaling perspective so new solutions can reach a commercial level. The Dyestuff Library is exactly that kind of initiative and builds collaboration between brands, suppliers and dyestuff innovators.”

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