Innate Shades

by Anu Biradar

Innate Shades

Walkthrough winds making your clothes fly. Having the alluring colour made by natural dye!

Synthetic dyes are harmful to human health – there is no debate about it. In this world, full chemical odour there still is hope because of the environment protectors. “BIODYE”, located in Savantwadi, is one such place.


BioDye manufactures natural dye, which is a result of continuous research and development, stating decades old. BioDye colours fabric/fibre/yarn with natural dyes using non-toxic mordants to give the whole spectrum of colours that do not fade/bleed when washed/machine washed. The dye also has special properties like – UV-absorption, body odor suppression, and mosquito-bite prevention. For an increasing environment-conscious public, biodye the exact what they are looking for or say even better.

iweedle blog
iweedle blog 2
iweedle blog 1

BioDye processing unit

Innate Shades 2

BioDye takes inspiration from its roots i.e. centuries-old Indian tradition of dyeing textiles. Traditionally sources like myrobalan, alum, wood ash, and dye extracts were used to colour textiles. All these ancient processes were documented by the British and published in 19th-century monographs. Biodye, has studied these age-old techniques and updated the process using myrobalan, alum, soda ash, and dye extracts.

Most importantly, bioDye has experimented and learned that yellow, brown, and earth colours from leaves can be used instead of flowers, roots, and barks; resulting in far better suited for sustainable collection. In this process, leaf colours are lightfast as the leaves are continuously exposed to the sun. for the first time, someone has obtained an entire range of lightfast colours. BioDye doesn’t use chromium or synthetic alizarin to obtain their fast shades. The highly caustic hydrosulphite is strictly avoided in process of obtaining indigo colour, as it cannot be completely washed out of the fabric and leaches out onto the wearer’s skin. the traditional fermentation method is used, which is practiced for centuries to give a colourful and safe product. All of their dye sources share a common heritage as ingredients in ayurvedic medicine.

Innate Shades 11

Indigo (blue): Indigo is recognized all over the world as the most successful source of blue dye. BioDye uses Indigofera tinctoria, a species native to India. A leguminous plant, it acts as a nitrogen-fixative for the soil and has traditionally been used as a green manure by farmers. By extracting the dye from the leaves through a steeping, oxidation, and settling process, the spent plant and steep water can be returned to the soil to fertilize it. The land does not suffer and the farmer earns extra income.

Innate Shades 10

Manjistha (scarlet): This fast dye is the Indian species of the Rubia genus (madder) that is found in many parts of the world. A climber that needs shade, it grows wild in forest areas at around 1000 m and was once so plentiful in India that there is no record of its having been cultivated here. The dye was traditionally extracted from the roots and stems, which meant uprooting the plant and has led in recent times to decimation of the wild sources. To ensure sustainable use of the plant, BioDye has initiated cultivation programs and uses only twigs and runners for dye. This allows for easy regeneration of the plants.

Innate Shades 9

Helu (yellow): the leaves of the Helu (Meyna laxiflora) shrub give an excellent fast yellow that can be cultivated on waste or marginal land and sustainably harvested. It is not a traditional source of Indian dye but has been developed locally by BioDye in Sawantwadi.                  

Innate Shades 8

Kasimi-Ferrous acetate (black): the traditional black dye of India is made from iron scrap which is first fired and then fermented with jaggery. Kasimi gives a rich black; unlike its synthetic dyeing substitute, ferrous sulphate, it does not weaken yarn or fabric.

Innate Shades iweedle 1

Lac (crimson): lac gives a bluish red dye and, in lower concentrations, pink tints. It is a waste product purified from the effluent of shellac manufacture. One of the dyes mentioned in the Arthasastra of Kautilya of the 3rd century B.C., lac has been used as a cosmetic and as a wool and silk dye in India for thousands of years. According to the Indian Institute of Natural Resins & Gums, lac can be considered a vegetarian product akin to milk and honey.      

Doctor pigments

When the dyed cotton fabric is worn, the dye desorbed from the fabric can be absorbed by the skin in a similar way to the patches now used by allopathic doctors and can deliver vital benefits.

BioDye’s principal colours and mordant (the substance that fixes dye to yarn) are all listed as medicinal sources in the Charaka Samhita, the earliest record of Ayurvedic medicine, which was composed around the 2nd century A.D. from earlier material dating in part to the 5th century B.C. Continuous use in medicinal formulations, taken internally or applied to the skin, for two thousand years is strong evidence of the safe, health-promoting, non-toxic nature of these plants.

BioDye and Its commitments:

The leaves and the fruits are collected sustainably from the perennial trees and shrubs of standing plantations by specially trained rural women living in the vicinity of forest areas. The chromogenic plants selected are plentiful and grow near the habitations. The leaves and fruits can be conveniently collected. To ensure sustainable collection only one-third of the leaves are plucked from each bush and it will re-visited only after three years. Saplings of the selected dye-yielding plants are planted on degraded forest land to increase green cover.

Innate Shades 13

Leaf collection area in Western Ghats

Innate Shades 12

Re-planting degraded forest land

Alternative livelihood options through the collection and initial processing of dye-yielding materials. Even a programme has been initiated to teach the rural women skills in shibori, embroidery, crochet, and knitting using naturally dyed materials to provide additional income.

Innate Shades 7

Collecting the leaves

Innate Shades

Bringing the leaves home

All colourants are of biological origin. Grey material is bio-scoured and peroxide-bleached. No caustic scouring. Safe mordants like aluminium salts and ferrous acetate are used and toxic mordants like chromium, copper, and tin are not employed. Safe and comfortable environment for workers with continuous R&D efforts to reduce energy requirements through improvements in combustion equipment, machinery, and processes. Wastewater treated in mixing and settling tanks gives sludge that is used as manure and water that is used for irrigation. All the processes adhere to internationally recognized organic standards.

Innate Shades 5

Efficient, insulted biomass burning stoves

Innate Shades 4

Efficient, insulted biomass burning stoves

Innate Shades 3

Vegetables grown with treated effluent and composted sludge

One-stop for so much good in our surroundings – BioDye! Even you can contribute your share as there is a unit available daily for designers interested in small quantities and trial dyeing of cotton, linen, jute, and silk. Visit the place and explore your knowledge as well the chances to lead a better life by making the designs better with Biodye. As a designer/ aware human looking forward to leading a quality life, isn’t this change the required shift in your lifestyles as well in the fashion industry.

You may also like

Leave a Comment