Fashion Updates | Sustainability

Rooibos is a popular natural dye for textiles in sustainable fashion.

Published: May 18, 2023
Author: Fashion Value Chain

-By Ankita Dutta.

Fashion companies have been using natural resources to dye their fabrics in an effort to make their apparel production more sustainable. They have been using natural materials like mushrooms, lichen, algae, plants, and even Rooibos tea, which is a herbal tisane, to create dyes. The South African Rooibos Council (SARC) has reported that multiple clothing manufacturers across the globe have begun incorporating Rooibos tea dyes into their latest collections. SARC Spokesperson Adele du Toit describes this as an amazing development for the environment as Rooibos dyes offer a sustainable alternative to the regular, chemical dyeing process that has been prevalent in the industry.

Using eco-friendly, non-toxic, and biodegradable natural dyes to create garments could significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the textile industry, said du Toit. She points out that the fast-fashion movement, which involves mass-producing cheap apparel quickly to keep up with the latest fashion trends, is detrimental to the environment. The utilization of Rooibos as a natural wool, cotton, and textile dye is only one of the many steps that manufacturers have taken to reduce the negative impact of clothing production on the environment.

Rooibos has gained a lot of popularity as a natural dye for textiles and garments that extends far beyond just South Africa. It even has its own Pantone color code, which is a standard system used by designers to match colors accurately for printing. The Pantone color code for Rooibos is a globally used method for specifying and managing hues for printing.

Many renowned companies like Asics sportswear, Quiksilver, and O’Neill have already released Rooibos-dyed clothing designs into the market. Asics debuted its Rooibos-dyed Gel Lyte III sneaker in April, made from repurposed textiles and tea-dyed panels. Similarly, Quiksilver unveiled their utility snow jacket in Rooibos red, while O’Neill released its insulating jacket in Rooibos color. Furthermore, Pangaia’s new capsule collection has adopted sustainable dye solutions like food waste, emphasizing ingredients like Matcha, Rooibos, and Blueberry.

Du Toit explains that the Rooibos tea fermentation process, which includes post-harvest oxidation driven by the plant’s inherent enzymes, is the best way to achieve the plant’s stunning amber hue. The use of Rooibos tea to dye clothing is an excellent opportunity for companies to explore more eco-friendly practices in their manufacturing process. Rooibos provides a sustainable option that reduces their carbon footprint, preserving our planet for future generations.

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