How to deliver truly eco-friendly natural tones
The colors of nature, like sand, beige, brown, olive, khaki and grey, have been increasingly popular for apparel and home furnishings for several years now. These wholesome shades are expected to remain a key trend as they reflect growing appreciation of the natural world and people’s desire to feel calm and relaxed.
Consumers can also feel good about investing in clothing and textiles in a timeless color palette that will not quickly go out of fashion.
The challenge for textile mills is ensuring that these feel-good colors live up to their promise as eco-friendly and long-lasting.
Conventional reactive dyes used to produce nature's neutral colors are very sensitive to application conditions such as temperature, alkalinity, salt concentration, fixation time and liquor ratio.
Any fluctuation in these dyeing parameters could lead to unlevel dyeing and introduce shade variation along the length or width of the fabric (known as “tailing” and “listing” respectively). Changes to dyeing conditions also significantly impact lab-to-bulk and batch-to-batch reproducibility. Crucially, cellulosic fibers are particularly sensitive to these problems, and fabrics like viscose are even trickier to handle.
The bottom line is that these reproducibility challenges increase the need for re-dyeing and reduce mill productivity while introducing extra costs and environmental impact. Late shipment can also damage a mill’s reputation with customers.
The last decade has also seen brands and consumers becoming more demanding about fastness—and about light-, perspiration- and wash-fastness in particular. Fastness helps that garments and home furnishings in the colors of nature continue to look good for longer, prolonging their useful life. This has traditionally been a concern when conventional reactive dyes are used.
In addition, chlorine-fastness is required to prevent textiles from fading when exposed to chlorine during home or commercial laundering. US and Japanese brands, for example, often have strict home laundering program requirements and many markets, including the UK, add chlorine to their water supplies.
Innovative Non-Contrasting Approach
Introduced in 2008 to revolutionize the dyeing of natural tones, Huntsman Textile Effects’ Non-Contrasting Concept is a well-established approach that uses a selection of innovative NOVACRON® dyes to deliver unique operational excellence, unbeatable process robustness and lowest reprocessing cost.
Key benefits of this breakthrough approach include:
- Low sensitivity to fluctuations in dyeing parameters, eliminating reprocessing to save water, energy and other resources
- Easy application with versatile processes on existing equipment
- Good fastness to light, wet-light and chlorine
- Easy wash-off to save time, energy and water
- Compatibility with finishing effects and a variety of dyeing auxiliaries, with on-tone fading following enzyme stone wash processing for example
In May 2022, Huntsman took this approach further with the introduction of a breakthrough blue element: NOVACRON® Atlantic EC-NC. Based on a patented dye molecule, it extends the Non-Contrasting Concept dye line-up.
NOVACRON® Atlantic EC-NC works alongside the Olive, Grey, Brown and Yellow NOVACRON® EC-NC dyes to give mills a trouble-free way to produce more sustainable long-lasting textile products in a broader range of natural tones.
These dyes are engineered to deliver outstanding operational excellence for right-first-time production, with unique application properties and unbeatable process robustness under varying parameters for both exhaust and pad processes. They also deliver improved light-, perspiration- and chlorine-fastness to satisfy consumers looking for longer-lasting apparel.
Research has confirmed that consumers now want more out of their clothing. An online survey by Nosto found that 60% of women in the US and UK now try to keep their clothes longer because it’s better for the environment, while 72% of women and 70% of men want brands to make clothes that last longer. In a McKinsey post-pandemic survey of Europeans, 65% said they were planning to purchase more durable fashion items, with 71% planning to keep clothing and footwear for longer.
Anish Paliwal, Global Marketing Manager - CEL & DA, Huntsman Textile Effects