Black Algae Dyed Polo Shirt
The original polo shirt, reinvented with the world’s first black algae dye.
- Dye made from algae waste
- Garment dyed for softness
- Buttons made from plant waste
The colour black is everywhere. From our phones to our cars to the ink in our pens. But black has a dark side. Every black thing you own is likely to contain carbon black – a pigment derived from petroleum. The way carbon black is made isn’t sustainable. Vast tracts of land called tar sands are stripped of all life and vegetation to extract the heavy petroleum, while the production process creates significant greenhouse gases. So we’re on a search for the new black.
Over 5 years of R&D have gone into creating the first ever black algae dye. And now we’re using it to recreate one of the first pieces of sports gear ever made – the polo shirt. Each shirt is built from a textured, breathable cotton and two bio-resin buttons made from plant waste, before being garment dyed in black algae dye for a soft and relaxed feel and finish.
Made with patterned cotton piqué
Polo shirts are typically heavier than normal t shirts, so our material has a nice comfortable weight to it. Piqué’s weave pattern of raised parallel cords gives the shirt a textured but soft feel, while the structure allows the fabric to breathe so you stay comfortable in the heat. We carried out 6 months of lab tests to successfully dye our shirt, trying different fabrics, dyeing temperatures, and pigment concentrations, before finding the perfect combination.
The first clothing dyed with black algae
Over the last few years we've been working with US biomaterials company Living Ink to accelerate the adoption of black algae as a way to colour clothing. After their founders Scott and Steve discovered that an algae cell is almost identical in size to a carbon black pigment, and can create the same colour, they’ve been on a mission to replace carbon black with black algae waste. Now, after 5 years of R&D and lab testing, our Black Algae dyed range represents a breakthrough on the journey. It’s the first clothing ever to be dyed with black algae.
Turning algae into dye took 5 years of R&D
To create a black algae dye, each individual particle in the pigment needs to be microscopically small, otherwise the shirt’s fibres won’t absorb them. So Living Ink have spent 5 years in R&D working on how to reduce the size of the black algae particles to an average of 1 micron. This breakthrough creates a sustainable alternative to dyeing clothing using traditional carbon-black based dyes, and with a clear pathway for scaling up.
What is carbon black?
Unless you’ve spent your life on a desert island with no clothes and no possessions, you’ll run into carbon black every day. It’s in the ink in your black pen, your black phone case, and the tyres on your car. Carbon black is the pigment that’s used to make black things black. But we don’t question where it comes from because very few people know it’s even there.
Making the colour black hasn’t changed for 100 years
The way carbon black is made hasn’t really changed for over a century. At mass scale the process begins with a fossil fuel like heavy petroleum which is fed into an industrial furnace and allowed to partially combust. This creates a black powder that looks a bit like soot. And this is carbon black. It’s then used to colour everything from inks, to plastics, to rubber, and you’ll find it everywhere on the planet.
Why we’re looking for alternatives to carbon black
There are lots of problems associated with carbon black. The manufacturing process creates greenhouse gases which are released into the atmosphere. And the heavy petroleum needed to make it comes from places known as oil sands, or tar sands. These are barren areas of our planet that are stripped of all vegetation so that oil can be extracted from the ground. And as ecosystems are eroded more carbon is emitted.
Our algae starts life in giant ponds
The algae we use starts life in huge open-air ponds where it grows by feeding on sunlight, carbon dioxide, water and nutrients. These ponds contain vast quantities of spirulina algae which absorb carbon dioxide and pump oxygen back out into the atmosphere. While the majority of the algae is used to make natural food colourings, the rest of the algae is harvested and used as the base for black algae dye.
Size + Fit
The Black Algae Dyed Polo Shirt is designed with a regular fit.
|Fits chest||83 - 90||91 - 98||99 - 106||107 - 114||115 - 122||123 - 130|
|Fits waist||71 - 76||76 - 81||81 - 86||86 - 91||91 - 96||96 - 101|
|Fits chest||33 - 36||36 - 39||39 - 42||42 - 45||45 - 48||48 - 51|
|Fits waist||28 - 30||30 - 32||32 - 34||34 - 36||36 - 38||38 - 40|