- Ancient Wisdom
- The Era of Synthetic Dyes
- The presence of natural Dyeing in India
- The major difference between synthetic and natural dyes
Whether it is the beautiful Leheriya & the pretty Piliya from Rajasthan or the eye-catching Bandhani & delightful Patola from Gujarat you see on our website, the Rangrez community of India has been dyeing its clothes in vibrant shades of organic natural dyes for years & years.
Our country’s rich natural resources used in textiles across the states are unparalleled. The varied topography and climate provide an impressive variety of plant fibres and natural dyes for cultivators, weavers, dyers, printers and embroiderers. Each region in the country has developed its own form of dyeing based on locally available resources such as the bright golden silks of Assam, the softest cotton of Bengal, or the ravishing red dyes of southeast India, we make sure to include all these artisanal apparel in our collection for you.
If you are a patron of sustainable clothing, you might have checked where your fabric is sourced from and how environmentally friendly is the manufacturing process, right? Well, be assured as at Colours of India, we ensure to use only the traditionally and sustainably crafted fabrics and designs that not only support the artisans but also care for the environment. Along with the fabric and manufacturing, when it comes to sustainable dressing, dyeing is a crucial measure of the chemical footprint left behind by your apparel’s manufacturing.
So if you have ever wondered who dyes my clothes? Here is your answer!
History of Dyeing in India
India’s prowess in natural dyes dates back to ancient times, with even the Vedas referring to their sustainable properties. The weaving and printing of fine textiles make up for an everlasting tradition that still sustains communities today. India had a virtual monopoly in the production of dyed, painted and printed textiles for a long time. The knowledge of which mordants (substances which are used to fix a dye to the fibre) to use and how to use them remained a closely guarded secret. From the 15th century onward, block-printed textiles from Gujarat and Deccan adorned Europeans and their homes. Colours of India brings to you these age-old, authentic techniques with a beautiful modern spin.
The Era of Synthetic Dyes
Synthetic dyes are easily available, cheaper and faster in comparison to natural dyeing methods. This has pushed the indigenous knowledge of the extraction and processing of natural dyes to the side. But the production and use of synthetic dyes have made the textile processing industry one of the most polluting industries in the world. Along with consuming a lot of water, synthetic dyes require the application of certain salts and recalcitrant organic compounds that resist biodegradation. The effluent contains hazardous chemicals which cause, among other things, skin diseases and lung problems. COI refrains from using synthetically dyed fabrics to keep up with our sustainable goal & values.
The presence of natural Dyeing in India
Today we have ghats or hubs of dyeing available across India with picturesque views of colourful clothes, as well as yarns for bright shades ranging from resplendent reds to the vibrant violets and all other hues hanging from terraces to dry. These communities are the ones who ensure that the fabric of your clothes absorbs, retains and exhibits a deep, beautiful shade of colour and reflects the rich culture of the Indian textile industry in the simplest manner possible. And Colours Of India brings it to you in the most environmentally friendly way.
Why Natural Dyeing needs a revival
Today, natural dyes are in a dire need of revival. The irregularities in patterns of natural dyeing attract a niche preferring a ‘tribal feel’ to ‘city glam’. Natural dyes are skin friendly, biodegradable and non-carcinogenic and not to mention environmentally friendly. Natural dyes exhibit a significant depth of colour in the fabric. These dyes help us bring those beautiful tie dye patterns that showcase every state’s tradition woven in with the long-lasting wisdom passed down from one generation to another. Alas, the cost of hand dyeing is what drives people away from rich, sustainable options to cheaper, synthetic ones. But have you ever wondered why are hand dyed products on COI or any other site so expensive?
Let us answer that question
Hand dyeing is the process of applying dye to a textile by hand. No machines are used; this colouring is accomplished by people’s power! Plant fibre, animal fibre, natural dyes, manufactured dyes – it doesn’t matter. The point of differentiation is that a person, usually an artist applies the dye. Each skein is handled and manipulated individually by a person, an artisan. The individual handling creates minute differences from skein to skein, even within the same batch, making each skein an individual work of artistry and skill. This is what makes every apparel you buy on Colours of India unique to you and you only.
Because most of the small yarn companies sprung out of the artists’ love and passion there can be significant differences in technique and dyeing styles – meaning there is an enormous world of brilliantly coloured fabrics just waiting for you to discover! This entire process is time-consuming, uses high-quality materials and is water intensive which makes it expensive in comparison to machine-dyed fabrics. But nonetheless, the sheer quality of fabric produced speaks for itself and makes it worth every penny you spend. The dyes used can differ from artist to artist. There may be Natural dyes, azo-free dyes or synthetic dyes. Each dye has its own properties which directly add to the quality and sustainability factor. Let us understand how they differ from each other.
Natural dyes are dyes or colourants derived from plants, invertebrates, or minerals. The majority of natural dyes are vegetable dyes from plant sources—roots, berries, bark, leaves, and wood—and other biological sources such as fungi.
Azo Free Dyes
Azo-free refers to any dyes that do not contain the main known carcinogenic compounds with organic industries growing and sustainability coming in, many textile producers and fashion brands have adopted the use of azo-free dyes. Azo-free dyes do not consist of nitrogen-based compounds which liberate amines. These dyes are eco-friendly and eliminate the use of toxic compounds. Azo-free dyes are low-impact dyes also referred to as fibre-reactive dyes.
Synthetic organic dyes come from cracking crude oil. The specific colours, attributes, and ranges come from chemicals derived from petroleum products. They do not occur in nature, so we categorize them as manmade dyes
The major difference between synthetic and natural dyes is that synthetic dyes are chemically loaded and not derived from natural sources such as plants. Although pure from chemicals, natural dyes are often times more expensive than chemical dyes. This is why for the most part many textile industries have shifted to chemical dyes but not us. We firmly believe in and promote sustainable clothing that helps not only the ecology but cultures and techniques to sustain and survive the era of commercialisation. That is why all products of COI use natural and azo-free dyes as they are vastly more beneficial for the environment when compared to synthetic dyes.
At Colours of India we believe that supporting our artisans, their rich techniques and efforts is what will help the heritage of our country sustain. All our products are sourced from authentic craftsmen and made in line with our sustainable practices. As far as dyeing is concerned we ensure all our products are hand dyed to give your outfit that perfect, deep colour which speaks volumes about the motif beauty of Indian Textile.
So, the next time you buy an authentic Indian artisanal outfit, you know who the rangrez of your clothes is!