In the clothing industry there are three main types of dyes used;
Conventional dyes - synthetic, chemical rich dyes
Low impact dyes - synthetic dyes designed to give the same color palette as conventional dyes but without the use of certain
harmful chemical and metal compounds
Natural dyes - dyes made from natural materials directly from the earth or the fruits of the earth
Over the past 10 years we have been on a mission to source natural dyes within Nepal, and have had some success, although on a small scale. Consequently we use both natural dyes and low impact dyes in our clothing production.
Low Impact Dyes
The low impact dyes we use are 'azo free' dyes. The azo chemical in dyes has been found to contain toxic compounds ranging from chlorine bleach to known carcinogens.
Although still legal in Australia, we made the decision very early on to go above and beyond what was simply required of us. We believe in minimizing harm to both the planet and our customers and decided to use only dyes which had this azo chemical removed.
The other fantastic benefit of using azo free dyes is that they have higher absorption rates into the clothing (greater than 70%), which means less chemical and grey water runoff into the environment.
We use natural dyes such as tumeric, mustard, onion skin, madder root and indigo in some smaller collections within our larger collections. The colour range using natural dyes is limited and the colours themselves are more muted, however the benefit (and beauty!) they provide far outweighs this small inconvenience.
Natural dying is a small area of expertise within Nepal, and without exception the artisan dyers are all women working in their own businesses and employing other women from their local community. It is often performed in rural areas where the materials can be collected and gathered in abundance, and provides positive impact for rural economies.
Interview with Shanti
Please meet Shanti, the woman behind the small business Kakani Himalayan Natural Dyes, our natural dyeing partners in Nepal. We had just received a new shipment of our stunning hemp throws, this time dyed using tumeric, and as always I was in awe and wanted to tell you all a little bit more about her and how her business evolved.