Natural dyeing with Bougainvillea Couture

26th August 2014     Fabrics Fashion Future Fabrics Expo Sustainable Future Fabrics Virtual Expo Interview

written by Charlotte Turner

As one of the companies featured on our sustainable textiles sourcing website Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, we wanted to introduce natural dye studio Bougainvillea Couture, which was founded in 2011 by UK based and renowned textile designer Luiven Rivas-Sanchez. Bougainvillea Couture produces limited edition ranges of sustainable luxurious fashion accessories, ensembles and fabrics using premium natural materials, responsibly and globally sourced from all over the world.

We spoke with Luiven to find out more about Bougainvillea Couture, sustainability in relation to textiles production and finishing, and what needs to improve in the fashion and textile industry.

Luiven explained that “Bougainvillea Couture engages in holistic and generative textile processes that transcend design trends. We work with a dedicated team of textile experts, designers, artists and practitioners. Together, we source the finest fabrics worldwide to selectively and sustainably hand dye and treat cloth. With craftsmanship and intimacy at the helm, every fabric and accessory created under the Bougainvillea Couture label, meets with uncompromising standards of sustainable assurance and ethical excellence, key factors we believe have been stripped away by a fashion industry with imperatives leaning towards speed and low cost.”

You can read the full conversation below…

TSA: What was the motivation to start Bougainvillea Couture?
BC: Being trained in design, the motivation to found Bougainvillea Couture was firstly based mainly on aesthetics. However, as we became more aware of textile pollution, our design ethos and rationale consequently changed.

TSA: How has your work with natural dyes evolved since its inception?
BC: Our work with natural dyes has come a long way. We are in a position to develop dyeing strategies and invest in lower impact methods of fabric production. It is a team effort that requires constant research and nourishment.

TSA: What first inspired you to start working on improving sustainability in the fashion / textiles industries?
BC: Colour, and the way it can be used to improve textile dyeing strategies without compromising the environment.

TSA: Can you explain how do you classify ‘sustainability’ in relation to your work?
BC: At Bougainvillea Couture, we aim to be as innovative and sustainable as we possibly can, for us sustainability means the ability to design and produce high end fabrics using low impact dyeing methods and techniques.

TSA: Can you provide an outline of your project?
BC: Our project is based on long term ideals. We have a vision to develop a range of sustainable fabrics and fashion accessories for men and women using sustainable guidelines. We work closely with practitioners and suppliers and have huge respect for them. It is part of the sustainable strategy we support, and one of the reasons that makes us proud of what we do and produce.

TSA: What do you hope the work of Bougainvillea Couture will improve in the industry?
BC: Because of the amount of chemical dyeing processes remaining unchanged, with critical high levels of pollution still affecting our eco-systems, we hope that our revised dyeing guidelines will eventually make a difference.

TSA: Can you tell us about any positive impact you have seen from your work?
BC: Yes, the way our customer base see textiles through our work is slowly changing. They understand more about how it is made and are more respectful of our ideals and goals.

TSA: What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the industry currently?
BC: Chemical pollution is still top of the agenda, the elevated cost of sustainable organic materials, and lack of respect towards the lower tier members of the supply chain continue to negatively affect the industry. Practical and feasible changes are needed to achieve higher standards of textile and social sustainability.

TSA: What would you like to see happen more in the fashion and textiles industries?
BC: We would like more comprehensive dialogue and collaborations between textile manufacturers, suppliers, scientists, designers and consumers.

TSA: Are there any common misconceptions about sustainability in fashion and textiles that you’d like to talk about?
BC: There is this huge misconception that sustainability is fashion exclusive and part of a trend. To us, sustainability means consumption in dire need of reassessment, purely to avoid further environmental disasters, if not for us, for future generations. To widely address and embrace sustainable issues, the industry and consumers need to take a more holistic approach to clothing.

TSA: Do you see designers and practitioners becoming more sustainable in your eyes, and how?
BC: The potential is huge, but only if their general views of sustainability are pragmatic and their goals are realistically achievable, slow and long term planning is part of our mantra.

TSA: In your opinion, who will primarily facilitate change in the supply chain?
BC: We believe the biggest onus lies within the manufacturing industry, but designers need to work closely with them, it needs to be a symbiotic relationship. The consumer tends to be price driven.

TSA: Do you have any events or courses coming up where people can connect with you?
BC: Yes, we have started running sustainable dyeing workshops, and have plans to develop and expand on this.

You can see a range of Bougainvillea Couture’s naturally hand dyed fabrics on the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo. Keep an eye on the blog and twitter for news of upcoming sustainable dyeing workshops.