Happy New Year one and all! Thank you so much for shopping with us, following us, supporting us in 2017 - we hope to see so much more of you in 2018. And now that we are all back to work, paying attention and generally trying to be better people than we were last year, here is the blog post that we promised, on why we think over-dying could be the new best thing.
We were racking our brains wondering how to introduce new colours without resorting to the standard, wasteful, seasonal shade model, when some thoughts from the past popped into my mind.
Thought 1: Back in the day, Benetton built a really efficient and profitable sales model by manufacturing clothes at the beginning of each season, and then dying them progressively so that the shades stocked in every store matched the colours favoured by that particular market.
Thought 2: A rather splendid interior design tome that I used to own extolled the virtues of layering wall paint in washes of different shades, to obtain unparalleled depth and richness of hue in every room.
Thought 3: When post-communist China first opened to the world, Chinese women, liberated from drab Mao suits but short of funds and resources, took to knitting - producing sweaters that were often a riot of colour and design. With the change of seasons, age, size etc. they simply unpicked their existing sweaters, washed the wool, and re-knitted the yarn into something new.
Putting these 3 recollections together generated a brand new thought - as these things often do - that was all my own:
Splendid New Thought: Our orders are too small to sit undyed waiting for the world to decide which shade to favor at any given point in time. But why not get garment dyed items manufactured in paler shades initially, which could be locally over-dyed later to bring the changes without waste?
If it works on walls why wouldn't washes of dye make for unparalleled richness and depth of hue on tees and sweatshirts? Actually, this proved harder than we thought - small batch over-dying seems to be more art than science - but when it works, yellow over-dyed black, for example, produces a much more interesting and attractive shade than a regular flat black.
Finally, our sweats and tees are premium EU quality and so, just like knitting wool in 80's China, they are relatively expensive. At the price that they can command the marginal extra charges involved in over-dying remain a cost-effective proposition. Incidentally, any brand could do this if their clothing stock was sufficiently valuable in relation to local labour costs. The problem, of course, is that €5 or €20 tees from Bangladesh or China are not, and so the most cost-effective solution is for brands to discount, dump or incinerate them to make room for new, often indistinguishable, tops. In Denmark alone, H&M are accused of incinerating 60 tons of "new" merchandise since 2013. Whilst Tiger of Sweden, By Malene Birger, Vero Moda, and Jack and Jones apparently burnt 45 tons of new and unworn garments last year (source). What the *&%@?! What a waste! Let's all try over-dye...