Flowers are the focal point of a new apparel dyeing system aiming to swap out harmful chemicals for more environmentally friendly ingredients.
Italian garment finishing technology company Tonello and sustainable innovations provider WRÅD teamed on a capsule collection that uses plants, fruits and vegetable waste to color garments. The lineup combines Tonello’s innovative organic dyeing system, Wake, with the technological expertise of WRÅD, which was responsible for the selection of fibers and fabrics, graphics, designs and marketing.
Together, they developed a system for turning flowers, berries, peels and roots into a wide range of colors that intentionally fade over time to achieve an authentically worn look. Plants are dried and infused without using harmful chemical additives—a process Tonello compares to “preparing an herbal tea.” The collection features yellow, peach and purple hues.
Tonello introduced Wake in 2019, a 100 percent sustainable dyeing solution that uses only organic and compostable raw materials such as flowers, berries and roots. In 2020, J Brand teamed with Tonello for a line of jeans dyed with the natural process.
The collection with WRÅD includes crew neck sweatshirts, hoodies and polos made up of 100 percent GOTS certified organic cotton, making it a completely natural range that aligns with increasing demand for more transparent, sustainable sourcing.
Alberto Lucchin, marketing executive at Tonello, said the innovation is a culmination of two years of research conducted by both companies, which continuously iterated on the technology until it was fully circular and “matched our values of social and environmental responsibility.” He added that relying on the world’s natural resources for dyeing methods “awakened an ecological consciousness that was dormant within us.”
Disrupting the conventional dyeing process is a top focus for the denim industry, as companies aim to reduce their chemical and water usage for the sake of the environment. Sustainable dyes are a crucial part of the industrywide shift to circularity, as the presence of hazardous substances has the potential to disrupt the recycling process.
Earlier this year, Levi’s Wellthread launched a collection featuring a process that uses ultrasonic waves—as opposed to hazardous chemicals—to apply plant-based dye. Similar solutions were also the focus of Fashion for Good’s latest Accelerator Program, which highlighted waterless textile dyeing technology from startup Eco2Dye, and natural indigo from a firm called Stony Creek Colors.
Other companies are foregoing dye altogether in select collections. Sustainable denim brand Mud Jeans’ Undyed collection showcases a range of jeans that achieve their color from only the recycled fibers in their construction.
Tonello’s collaboration with WRÅD follows its 2020 development of a new suite of laser systems that aimed to increase speed and efficiency in the finishing process. By offering more productivity, speed and accuracy, the streamlined machinery achieves the market’s needs for continuous production and speed to market.