Native colors, augmented naturals, energy savings: everything you need to know about alternative colors

A key factor in the success of a collection, colors are skilfully calibrated to convey electric energy, refined calm, pure sheen, or to blend into an urban or natural surroundings. In today’s world of environmental challenges, the focus is on options for developing colored products with a lower impact, offering the possibility of being more respectful of resources, consuming less energy, or minimizing water pollution.

Focus on native colors

As far as color is concerned, the most responsible option… is to not color at all. Preserving the original color, means affirming the beauty of the natural colors of animal hair and plant fibers, in their ranges of whites, grays and browns. Some specific cotton varieties grow in pink, brown or green colors, and are thus developed without bleaching or dyeing, and maintaining their original shade over time. 

How can colors be recycled?

With the aim to optimize existing resources, recycling without overdyeing is a praiseworthy option. Batches of cotton or denim are sorted by colour to facilitate their mechanical recycling, dry cleaned and then soaked in order to shred them while damp. The result is batches that combine their initial colours, avoiding discoloration or overdyeing, ready to be re-spun.   

Reduced-impact denims in particular draw on this “color transfer” option with non-overdyed developments, using the color inherited from recycled denim.

Recyclage de la couleur

What are ‘augmented naturals’?

Vegetable dyeing processes have reinvented themselves by using fruits, flowers, plants or plant residues from the agri-food industry, enabling them to be dyed without the toxic mordants formerly used. The advantage of these new processes is that they offer a wide range of colors, from the lightest to the darkest, for everyday fabrics such as downy fleeces, flowing jerseys, washed poplins or discreet dobbies.

Tout savoir sur la couleur éco

To develop deeper shades, new pigment coatings are available using wood waste from FSC-certified sustainable forests. They combine the resistance of high-performance black pigments, and are produced in closed loops to optimize production processes.

Algae can also serve as a resource. Their shades of ochre, brown, red or green are used in the formulation of water-saving coloring processes.

The most innovative technologies, such as Colorifix, turn to microbiology and on replicating DNA as it is found in nature in order to produce pigments. In their R&D laboratories, fermentation of agricultural by-products is used to create colorants, thanks to the action of micro-organisms whose DNA contains enzymatic color catalysts.

Water- and energy-saving processes

Another alternative is to rely on new-generation machines. Some “zero water” digital coloring processes use minimal water and save energy, and are suitable for all types of fiber.

Pigment dyes are also revisiting processes with a no-rinse application, such as Pigmentura, which offers a range of colors up to dark shades, with very good color fastness.

Previous post Autumn-Winter 25-26: The Season’s Theme revealed in a New Teaser Next post Indigo Icons: Maurizio Donadi, the archivist of pre-loved garments