Dyeing to save water

Solution-dyed fabrics have sustainability built into their very threads – from the word go. This technique is essential for the future of the outdoors.

Everything you thought you knew about dyeing fabrics is wrong.

Although synthetic fibres - essential for outdoor gear - have only been around for decades, they're commonly dyed the bright, appealing colours you like to see in your wardrobe using a process that's been around for centuries.

This process, where the fabrics are dipped in the dye, staining the outside of the fibres the right colour, was pioneered way, way before synthetic fabrics were invented. It's effective on cotton, wool, and so on. But when it comes to synthetic fibres, it's not right. Synthetic fibres don't soak up dye the way natural ones do. You're left with a fibre that's bright on the outside, and a pale white-beige in the middle: like a stick of rock.

Not only is this kind of dyeing inefficient, it's terribly wasteful. And this is why we at Haglöfs are interested in changing the way we do things. That's why we're trying out solution-dyed fabrics for suitable styles in our range.

Solution-dyed fabrics have the colour added to the material right at the very start - when the fibres are being created and spun. The raw material is the right colour from the word go. This means that if you snipped a solution-dyed fabric in half and peered at the cut end through a microscope, you'd see its colour all the way through the fibre - right through to the centre.

But what's best about solution dyeing is that it eliminates the need for baths of dye - slashing water consumption, one of the fabric industry's most wasteful areas. It's estimated that water-dyed fabrics produce waste water equivalent to half the volume of the Mediterranean Sea every single year. It also eliminates the need to treat all this waste water, saving other valuable resources as well as energy, and all but ending the risk of dangerous dyed water runoff or contamination of the local environment.

Solution dyeing has been estimated to save 80% of water compared to conventional dyeing techniques. More than that amount of electricity is saved, and a fraction of the CO2 normally released during dyeing makes it into the atmosphere. And the material it produces looks good, with a bright hue that's way more resilient to wear and exposure.

You can see why we think it's a great choice.

A sustainable outdoor industry. It’s possible.