England’s first locally grown, sustainable cloth is being developed through a collaboration of three companies
Spotted: The chemical dyes used by the textile industry are responsible for around one-fifth of the world’s industrial water pollution. Now, natural dye studio Botanical Inks, cashmere farm Bowmont and bespoke cloth maker Bristol Weaving Mill have joined forces to create Bristol Cloth.
Bristol cloth uses regeneratively farmed lambswool, which is processed without the use of any synthetic chemicals, using only biological soaps including madder and weld dyes. It is then dyed with organic plant and weld dyes developed by Botanical Inks and is woven locally into cloth at The Bristol Weaving Mill. The cloth is available as scarves, or in scarf-quality or tailoring-quality fabrics.
In addition to organic dyes and regenerative farming, most of the production takes place within a 15-mile radius of Bristol, which reduces the carbon footprint of transportation and boosts local heritage artisan craft. The project is the work of Babs Behan, founding director of Botanical Inks and a champion of non-toxic textile systems.
According to Behan, the fabric is dyed with “traditional English heritage dyes which have been used for centuries in old England. I used organic indigo leaf, which is the highest value natural dye in the world due to its complicated and laborious extraction.” The indigo leaf imparts sky and sea blues, while organic madder root is used to create warm shades of dusty pink. The remaining colour is the natural undyed ecru of the Cashmere fleece.
More and more, people are realising that it is not enough for one aspect of a product to be sustainable – the entire production chain must be sustainable. We have seen this in recent innovations such as a label that makes clothing using deadstock and a wool sourcing platform that promotes regenerative agricultural practices.
Written By: Lisa Magloff