BY Annie Waterman | February 16, 2012
SLOWCOLOR reminds the apparel industry that it needs to simply “slow down" and focus on quality over quantity. This social enterprise is active in its mission and is striving to become a benchmark for 100 percent naturally dyed, hand-loomed accessories. Their goal is to become synonymous with natural dyes while clothing the world in beauty, health and responsibility.
The concept “Slow Color,” was borrowed from from the Slow Food movement founded by Italian Carlo Petrini in 1966, which linked pleasure and food with awareness and ethical sourcing. SLOWCOLOR shares this philosophy, connecting consumers to the entirety of the production process with hopes of preserving natural dyeing and weaving techniques around the globe. Founder and Chief Co(r)evolution Officer of SLOWCOLOR, Sanjay Rajan speaks of the many challenges, as well as insights he has experienced along the way.
SLOWCOLOR’s beautiful scarves are a go anywhere accessory, a treasured companion from casual to elegant, for work and for play. These linen and organic cotton scarves are made by families of hand weavers throughout the villages of Andhra Pradesh of Southern India. Sanjay travels to this colorful country a few times a year, where he works with master weavers. Hours and hours are spent improving and streamlining the natural dying process. Sanjay says, “I find myself digging for knowledge which has been lost to synthetics over the years." Not only is this a challenge, but finding skilled weavers is a growing concern. "To become a weaver is no longer desirable, as it is labour intensive, inconsistent, and many receive a low wage." Sanjay was taken aback by the growing amount of looms and weaving workshops that have been left and abandoned throughout the villages. “I saw bits and pieces of looms used for fencing and for the interior beams in one’s home. There is also a shortage of skilled weavers. This is not an immediate issue, but it will be in the future.”
All products are naturally dyed in small batches and ingredients are sourced from local bazaar. "Black and Gray comes from combining Jatropha curcus bark with a fermented solution of palm sugar and rusty nails. Indigo comes from indigo cakes combined with goat dung, wheat husk and palm sugar, fermented in clay pots underground, the traditional way. Pomegranate skins are used to attain yellows, whereas India Madder root and other Ayurvedic herbs are used for shades of red. A combination of Ayurvedic herbs are also used as mordant to fix the color and are generally considered in India as healing for the skin and are revitalizing the body.”
Fulfilling client expectations is another challenge. Many want brighter colors and a softer, "worn in" feel, but Sanjay refuses to compromise integrity. Brighter colors and a softer feel unfortunately would involve the use of chemicals and cause harmful run off into groundwater. SLOWCOLOR focuses on quality based rather than time based production, with the environment and artisans in mind. Sanjay's vision is that SLOWCOLOR becomes a game changer for the entire textile industry. He works with pride and passion because he feels that business should be an agent for change, reminding us to think before we buy.
For more information, please visit http://www.SLOWCOLOR.com. To view an introductory video on SlowColor, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQJf82xneLc