Where do our clothes come from?
It all started with a simple question. One that, when we started asking it more and more often, we didn't like the answers to. "Where do our clothes come from?"
You don't have to look very far these days for news stories about exploited textile workers, deadly working conditions, and rivers running pink or blue with toxic dyes.
But somehow, the cycle of consumption and waste only seems to accelerate and expand. We decided that if we wanted a different kind of clothing company, we would need to build it ourselves.
The birth of Native Color.
If you were to start a clothing company today—from scratch—where would you begin? Where would you look for your guiding principles? For examples of the way forward?
For us, it turned out for us that the answers didn't lie in the future but in the past.
Until recently every region on earth had its own ways of producing and dyeing cloth sustainably using local materials. It was only technology in the name of profit and efficiency that disrupted the cycle.
We didn't need to innovate. The answers had already been here before. We just had to dig them up.
Every Native Color product is made by hand in Austin, Texas using colors from nature.
We use only natural, 100% biodegradable materials—no plastics. When possible, we use local and organically grown textiles. If we can't control how our goods are disposed of, we want to make sure they can break down on their own without polluting the soil.
We use only natural, non-toxic dyes in all the goods we produce. Instead of polluting local rivers and waterways, the byproduct from our dye vats can be simply poured over the garden or used as compost.
But by far the most expensive portion of our manufacturing process is the labor. The traditional, time-honored techniques we use to dye T-shirts or make jewelry require one thing more than anything else—human hands.
While a factory worker can make dozens of T-shirts per hour, we can perhaps make one or two. But instead of staying seated at a work bench for an entire shift, our time is spent outdoors in the Texas sun working with our hands. Trust us, it's good work.
In fact, perhaps our biggest goal is to make our manufacturing process more labor intensive—if only to employ more people with meaningful work. Man wasn't made to answer emails or push buttons on an assembly line all day.
From nature to man, man to nature.
Since the start, our mission has been to make clothing responsibly, and make it affordable enough to wear everyday.
We want to be able to wear clothing that doesn't require harming the earth or exploiting workers first. It's not a new idea, it's been done before. We only have to go back in the direction that we came.
By employing labor-intensive techniques that use only natural, biodegradeable materials, we can manufacture goods in line with the rhythm of nature—the rhythm of life.
From nature to man, man to nature. The cycle repeats.