As we’ve noted before, the eco-friendly clothing available today is a lot more dynamic than the brown drawstring pants and tunics of past decades. Fabrics with pattern, texture, and color now play a much bigger role in drawing attention to sustainable fashion labels. At the same time, advances in eco-friendly inks and dyes are making it easier for brands to create high-quality textiles with better market appeal. Let’s take a look at some designers whose work is paving the way in eco-friendly printing.
Passenger Pigeon makes garments and accessories featuring exclusive printed fabrics. Owners Heather Schibli and Wendy Traas have created detailed, eye-catching prints with an underlying theme of ecology. Their 2008 collection features a print with bikes, as well as one with plastic bags tangled in branches. The soft, neutrally -colored organic cotton and hemp fabrics help to make the patterns pop.
Mociun creates collections that mix modern geometric styles with collage-like line drawings and draw influence from diverse areas including outsider art, Russian constructivism, and pop culture. Though she used to print all of her own textiles in her Brooklyn studio, Mociun has turned to a local printer to assist with her increasingly large orders. She notes that there is no completely clean way to print, but using water-based inks and low-impact dyes and finishes are a great improvement to the traditional production process. Her close relationship with the printers ensures both quality products and conscious production practices.
Emerging brands like Passenger Pigeon and Mociun can scale their printing needs in response to market trends, which is a distinct advantage in the ever-changing fashion industry. In-house work can also save ink, as designers may choose to print in smaller batches or on an as-needed basis. Contracted textile printers often require a minimum purchase order that may be too expensive for small-scale designers. By keeping their stock low, these brands can adapt to the latest trends and technological advances in low-impact inks and dyes. However, printing is time-consuming and requires a fair amount of space for production of yardage. Where can designers find great printed yardage?
Harmony Art, designs textiles especially for the eco-conscious market. Her patterns range from geometric and floral to text-based styles, and all are printed on organic cotton using water-based inks and low-impact dyes. Harmony Art textiles are snapped up by crafters via distributors like Near Sea Naturals or by independent businesses such as Look Organics.
Look Organics, uses the prints for her collection of children’s apparel. She strongly believes in providing colorful and interesting organic clothing to the market, and hopes to eventually expand her range of prints. It is much easier for small and medium-sized businesses to use preprinted textiles, as they can easily obtain high-quality prints in fashion-forward colors. Furthermore, the time and space needed to print unique textiles is not cost-effective for everyone.
As the market for eco-friendly textiles continues to expand, we hope to see more printers embracing water-based inks and low-impact dyes in their work. If you know of any exceptional printers using these materials, please let us know in the comments section below!