How To Achieve Sustainable Colour

November 2021

LTP’s latest 360° Innovation Book details the best suppliers for naturally derived sustainable colour

From plant based dyes and bacteria to using light to print, industry leaders are increasingly looking to become more responsible in every aspect of garment manufacturing, including colour.

Dyeing can result in a range of environmental issues from the use of fossil fuels to create oil-based dyes, to excessive water usage and effluent from dyeing processes polluting waterways.  According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation the fashion industry uses around 93 billion cubic meters of water annually, this is equivalent to 74,000,000 swimming pools (25m length).

Puma X Living Colour, Design To Fade, image source

LTP are here to support brands on this journey to implement eco-colour, reduce water and energy consumption and eliminate toxic chemicals used in the dyeing process. Alex Ingildsen, CCO at LTP Group states

“We are proud to operate as a modern and responsible manufacturer. LTP is built on core values of sustainability and ethical practice. In the latest 360° Innovation Book we want to make it easier for our customers to discover more eco-friendly colour whilst supporting brands in their sustainable efforts.”

LTP’s latest 360° Innovation Book, showcases the latest developments from the most innovative suppliers. Here, Fabric sourcing & innovation manager at LTP Laura Didžiokienė and designer/trend forecaster Chantell Fenton discuss the teams findings on responsible dyeing and finishing processes.

Scale up Natural Dye Production

Özen impress with their Be Pure Project which focuses on sustainable fabric innovation. From yarn to colour, the company use botanical dyes that are completely obtained from nature and are safe for the environment. No bleach, peroxide or heavy metals are used as mordant. In an effort to reduce water consumption Özen treat all of the water they use with their advanced technology infrastructure and repeatedly use it. This effort results in 2X less water consumption.

Inside the 360° Innovation Book (IB. 03) by the LTP Group, image source

Brands should look to unlock the potential of food waste dyes. Each year a huge amount of food is wasted. Finding ways to deal with this issue is a hot topic and something LTP investigated in the recent article “Edible Materials Provide Food For Thought”.

Inside the 360° Innovation Book (IB. 01) by the LTP Group, image source

In the first edition of LTP’s 360° Innovation Book, the team featured Archroma, a global leader in colour and specialty chemicals towards sustainable solutions.

EarthColors® by Archroma offers a fully traceable biosynthetic dye collection that reflects colors seen in nature. These high-performance dyes are synthesized from non-edible agricultural or herbal industries waste such as leaves or nutshells.

Outdoor brand Ternua partnered with Archroma to create a capsule collection of recycled tee-shirts and sweatshirts. These styles were coloured using post-consumer walnut shells from the Basque region in Spain.

The Natural Dye House also offers some impressive shades. The company use industrial infrastructure to ensure colour consistency and reproducibility.

Early adopters of sustainable colour initiatives, Pangaia use botanical dyes on its living basics collection. Products are then treated with peppermint for odour control.

MÃÄD Cycling also hand dye cycling jersey’s using plants, food waste and minerals. The brand references the therapeutic proprieties of the plants used. A benefit of using natural rather than petroleum-based dyes is the non-toxic qualities which are great for sensitive skin.

Brands are increasingly evaluating all elements of the garment from a sustainable perspective. Pioneer Elastic now offer a range of cotton elastics coloured using plant-based dye.

Inside the 360° Innovation Book (IB. 02) by the LTP Group, image source

From Bacteria to Colour

Biotech firms and start-ups are innovating in the space, developing bacteria dyes as an alternative to toxic textile dyes. Experts say bacteria pigments have the potential to revolutionise the dyeing industry.

Living Colour by Dutch designers Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar uses naturally occurring bacteria that can be directed to dye fabrics. Novel patterns and textures are achieved by subjecting the bacteria to variables such as sound frequencies.

Living Colour recently collaborated with sports brand Puma on a collection called Design To Fade. A proportion of the range is dyed using bacteria, while others are made of degradable materials and manufactured on demand. Puma hopes the project will amplify a conversation around how sportswear is made, and in turn help "lead the way to a zero-waste future".

The bacteria dye process uses no toxic chemicals, little water, low temperatures and could also provide additional performance benefits such as an anti-bacterial function to fabrics.

Another one-to-watch is H&M backed, British biotech company Colorifix who are developing a method of dyeing clothes that taps into the bright colours of birds and butterflies and uses micro-organisms to recreate them on garments. Colorifix grows their dyes on-site with renewable feedstocks. They ship a tiny quantity of engineered microorganism to suppliers who, with the teams support grow the colour via fermentation. In the same way beer is brewed, the microorganisms grow on renewable feedstocks such as sugar, yeast, and plant-byproducts. The microorganisms divide every 20 minutes, resulting in a large quantity of colourful dye liquor within just one or two days. This is then placed directly into standard dye machines, requiring no additional specialist equipment or toxic chemicals.

Inside the 360° Innovation Book (IB. 03) by the LTP Group, image source

Sustainable Printing Gains Traction

Inside the 360° Innovation Book (IB. 03) by the LTP Group, image source

Madeleine Marquardt is a textile and surface designer revolutionising the printing process using an Innovative Light Printing System [ILPS] which creates repeat-free patterns on fabric. The light serves as a drawing tool and can be manipulated by controlling the speed of action and radiation intensity. The result is reminiscent of tie dye with organic and geometric patterns in a range of blue hues. The process is also said to be less resource-intensive than conventional surface designs. Marquardt is collaborating with the DesignFarmBerlin to commercialise the project for industrial production.

Laurema Printing House are also innovating in this space using nature dye transfers, from chilli peppers to chocolate and turmeric creating customised decoration solutions.

Inside the 360° Innovation Book (IB. 02) by the LTP Group, image source

Living Ink was featured in the 2nd edition of LTP’s 360° Innovation book, the brand are successfully commercializing algae-based ink for packaging and textiles.

Inside the 360° Innovation Book (IB. 02) by the LTP Group, image source

How to get your copy of the 360° Innovation book

The new edition highlights everything you need to know about textiles, trims and technologies. All existing customer should contact Alex for their copy of IB.03. Updated bi-annually with cutting-edge innovations, the next edition will be released in December 2021 exclusively for LTP customers.

The 360° Innovation book will become a place for suppliers to introduce their latest innovations and pioneering developments. If you’re a future-thinking supplier and wish to be featured in the next addition, please contact Alex.

This resource is created as part of the companies Value Added Services which are strategically developed to provide brands with the tools to drive new and exciting product developments. This suite includes:

Seasonal Trend Analysis

Product Design & Development, Creation and Innovation

360° Innovation book

3D Product Creation

The Sport & Outdoor Apparel Network

Meet Your Manufacturer

Global Innovation from Europe & Asia

For more information please feel free to contact Alex at the LTP Group [].

About LTP

LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, outdoor, athleisure and sustainable fashion. LTP was established in 1991, and is probably the biggest Sport & Outdoor garment manufacturer in Europe with bluesign & GOTS setups in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Vietnam

LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Contract Furniture producing in nine fully-owned factories.

About Chantell Fenton

Chantell is an experienced performance sportswear designer and trend forecaster, with a passion for wellness, technology and function-first design. Chantell has an in-depth knowledge of how to spot and translate the must-have trends and macro shifts for the sports and outdoor industry. For more details visit