Audrey Louise Reynolds has a totally inspiring and determined process of creating sustainable and ethical fabrics and dyes. A self described slow designer, she manually creates colours for fabrics and takes her palette straight from nature – seaweed, algae, flowers, mushrooms, berries, spices – to create the most beautiful offerings.
Admirably she is working toward making this process possible at a larger scale so that it can become an option for more designers, instead of having to use toxic chemical dyes. We chatted to Audrey to find out a bit more about her process, her favourite projects and commercially scaling natural dye.
“It seems that the beautiful things you are making at the end should be beautiful from the very start of the process. So I take everything from the earth, from the ground, from flowers, from vegetables and I dehydrate everything so I’m working with a very fine powder pigment to make something all natural and beautiful.”
Natural dye is amazing but a lot of recipes are hard to scale for mass production on a commercial level and creating bright colours at an affordable price can be difficult. Dye is a cost that your average designer is not used to seeing because chemical dye is soooo cheap and with changes in foreign prices and the fact that natural colour doesn’t last as long as chemical colour, why would you switch to natural dye?
But demand drives the market and I think people want to make the right choices in all steps of production you just have to make it easy for them. Right now, other than my line of dyes available to individuals and factories, it's not super easy so I’m trying to bridge that gap.
About impermanence and the evolving story or your clothes
What’s our obsession with permanence? Are you going to be buried in that dress?
In the fast fashion and fashion movements we have things made with chemicals that poison us when we briefly wear them against our skin (trust me, you only want to put the best materials next to your skin, this goes into your bloodstream) and that poison the planet during production and then even after we are gone. Why would that even be something that we would want to make the norm as it has become?
Or, you could have a natural piece of linen that during the garment's lifetime the colour evolves as the fabric gets softer and the seams wear thinner. It then poses no issue to the earth as it can easily be recycled into something else or, if it makes its way to compost, it would just dissolve.
“I find collaborating with nature leaves so much up to chance but its kind of how we live our life. So you can control it up to a point, then you put it in the wind, or the water, or this thing that will change or morph and never in the same way and I think there’s something really beautiful about that, more than anything I could ever calculate on my own.”
On moving forward
Now that all of this info is coming to the surface to your average consumer and words like eco, ethical and sustainable are being thrown around by brands as a selling point, I think it will, or at least hope it will, push people into making decisions correctly in the future. I hope my natural dyes become the new standard of colour in the fashion industry and it becomes the norm.