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A New Standard of Colour (ViewPoint Colour)

This article was written 4 years ago.


As the slow process of natural dyeing provides an alternative to fast fashion for many emerging designers, Audrey Louise Reynolds might be joining their commitment to all-natural ingredients and non-toxic processes, but she’s not playing by their rules. Katie Treggiden meets the mutineer hoping to start a revolution in colour.


With phrases such as ‘ban plastic bags’, ‘eat less meat’ and ‘fuck Trump’ emblazoned down the arms of her SS2020 ‘Environmental’ collection, Audrey Louise Reynolds is no stranger to wearing her politics on her sleeve. ‘I live and breathe my approach,’ she says. ‘It’s all an extension of me – I’ve woken up every morning and fought for the same thing for as long as I remember.’ Dubbed ‘the fashion world’s artisanal dyer’ by The New York Times, the Brooklyn-based natural dye advocate spends her days creating fabric and fashion for private clients, designers such as Rogan, Loomstate and Wendy Nichol, and her own collections, fighting for ‘a new standard of colour’ in the process. ‘It isn’t hard to save avocado stones in the freezer until you have enough to dye something pink,’ she says, arguing that such practices should be scaled up to provide solutions to everything from global food waste to an increasingly toxic fashion industry. ‘If you wouldn’t put it in your body, you shouldn’t put it on your body,’ she says. ‘People use organic lotions, eat organic food, and yet wear toxic exercise fabrics to sweat into and dermally absorb crazy chemicals. My approach needs to become the new normal.’


While her contemporaries are using botanical dyes to create rustic, earthly colours, Reynolds is the rebel in their midst, focusing instead on a neon palette that appeals to her youthful audience. ‘The hippie hues of soft yellows, mushroomy browns, and onion-skin greens, though beautiful, have cast a stigma that this is all that can be achieved,’ she says. ‘My goal has always been to harmlessly achieve the brightest shades possible.’ Designed in collaboration with a group of friends to combat the winter blues, her AW19 collection mashes up references from early 1990s rave culture to ‘kindergarten vibe’ hand-cut fringes. It is contradictory and confrontational, and yet represents a dynamic and inclusive approach to sustainability.


These clothes are not worthy; they’re fun, celebratory and positive. Several pieces feature the letters ‘PMA’ – ‘positive mental attitude’ – and perhaps that is exactly what these uncertain times call for. ‘Every day, I collect plants or earth and draw with them while I have my coffee,’ says Reynolds. ‘This reminds me to be creative, playful and thankful that I get to go to work every day, fight for something I believe in, and know that I’m making a difference.’ If that’s not a manifesto for the future, I don’t know what is.


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Katie Treggiden is also the founder and director of Making Design Circular — an international membership community and online learning platform for environmentally conscious designers, makers, artists and craftspeople.
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