Natural Dyes

Did you know that the skin is the largest and heaviest organ in the human body? In adults, it corresponds to a bit less than 10% of its total weight.

This huge surface covers us completely and protects us from external aggressions. But it is also permeable to air and liquids. Today, many of us are attentive to the cosmetics we apply to our skin. But let’s not forget that our clothes are also in constant contact with our skin.

The synthetic solutions currently used to dye and fix colours are often chosen on the basis of their low cost and not their toxicity level. The negative impact on the health of the producers and buyers as well as on the environment is important. Fortunately, consumers become more and more aware of these production methods. Regulations are emerging.

Despite these laws which limit the levels of harmful substances in clothing sold in Europe, controls carried out by Green Peace in France in 2012 show that these standards are not always respected.

It is therefore up to the consumer to obtain information and refuse certain products. It’s up to us to become responsible consumers!

 

Here are some recommendations for your next clothing purchases:

  • find out about the brand and its environmental and social policy, the origin of the garment and the materials used
  • favour natural fibres, organic and fair trade certifications
  • labels such as GOTS and Oeko-Tex, for example, guarantee the use of dyes and fixers that respect health and the environment
  • buy 2nd hand (repeated washing reduces the presence of toxic substances)
  • wash your clothes before wearing them

For the ONE collection, tem pimenta has chosen to work with certified organic cotton, hand-woven fabrics, such as “Khadi”, and of course natural dyes.

Natural dyes have been used since Neolithic times. The technique of using plants, minerals and insects to obtain certain shades has not ceased to evolve since: recipes became more complex and were enriched by discoveries and trade. The invention of synthetic dyes in the middle of the 19th century revolutionized these techniques. Industrial processes are gradually taking the place of craftmanship.

 

Today, natural dyes have certain disadvantages: it is a long and costly process. The colour fixation, even if this process has evolved considerably, is not always as efficient as the result obtained by synthetic solutions.

However, there are also many advantages: Natural dyes produce bright and shimmering colours, without inconvenience for our nor the production workers’ health. Moreover, its impact on the environment is minimal. The smell of the fabric is pleasant. While synthetic dyes can attack the fabric fibres, natural dyes will have the opposite effect: they embellish it. It is also a meticulous artisan technique. This know-how, several millennia old, is kept alive by passionate people and allows the creation of unique textile works.

 

We have found in India a partner who believes in the same values as tem pimenta, namely: the preservation and support of craftsmanship and ancestral techniques in textile production; respect for environmental and social criteria; the desire to be creative, innovative and adapt traditional techniques to current fashion.

During our trip to India in October 2017, Karina and I were able to visit the natural dyeing workshops and observe this process.

piment crème

Discover now the plants that were used to dye the pieces of the ONE collection.

 

“Indigo” for blue

The indigo tree is a shrub which grows in a hot and tropical climate. The colour is obtained thanks to its leaves which are picked, dried and fermented in vats.

In traditional Indian medicine – Ayurveda – indigo is used, among other things, to heal wounds or strengthen hair.

 

The “dyer’s madder” for brick red

This plant, native to Asia, is now grown in different temperate regions of the planet. In India, it has been used for more than 3000 years for its dyeing and sanitary properties.

In Ayurveda, for example, this plant is used to treat the skin and for its antiseptic properties.

 

 

Washing and maintenance

Instructions are specified on the label sewn inside each tem pimenta garment:

  • Hand wash with mild soap. Do not soak too long. Rinse with cold water.
  • Dry in the shade and inside out. Iron inside out.
  • After several hand washes, machine wash possible at 40° with similar colours.