Our Commitment« I firmly believe that 100% natural textile fibers are beneficial for our health and well-being, just like organic fruits and vegetables we eat. That’s why we work hard to produce hemp that is is entirely free of toxic products, from field to fabric.»
Président, Couleur Chanvre
Recognizing the toxic nature of most textile manufacturing, we felt an urgent need to develop an entirely different and healthy means of production.
Our Mission: Clean Textile Production
For almost a century, the chemical industry has controlled textiles:
- 65% of textiles are synthetic, made from petrochemicals
- Semi-synthetic fabrics, such as viscose, deceptively labeled “green”, are proliferating. However, they come from a particularly toxic chemical mix - cellulose soaked in sulfuric acid makes viscose which in turn releases carbon disulphide - a deadly gas - as well as hydrogen sulphide.
- Cotton, which represents almost 90% of all natural fibers used, absorbs 25% of the world's pesticides on only 2% of the cultivated land.
- Textile processing uses almost 150,000 different molecules; few are researched, and many are harmful.
All of this poses a serious public health risk because our skin, a highly sensitive organ, our mucous membranes, and our respiratory tracts are in direct contact with fabric twenty-four hours a day. Also, we spend a third of our lives in a bed, often scantily dressed and therefore particularly vulnerable. Poorly made fabrics and the products with which they are coated poison us. This is done surreptitiously, and the danger does not depend on high exposure. All experts agree that recent studies on bisphenol A find even low exposure can have serious health consequences. In addition, textile production emits 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, polluting our oceans, rivers, soil, and air. These industry-caused calamities are now shifting to Asia and Africa, where there are daily health and ecological disasters.
Faced with overwhelming evidence of harm, it became clear to us that we had to change the course of things and clean up textile production to improve human and planetary health.
At Couleur Chanvre we have therefore decided to create a virtuous production cycle which demonstrates that clean alternatives are possible.
We carry out our mission in three domains:
- in our choice of fibers- in our mode of dyeing and finishing- in our manufacturing (artisanal, local, with handpicked partners)
Couleur Chanvre: A Pioneer in the World of Hemp Textiles
It’s no coincidence that hemp was the first fiber used by Couleur Chanvre almost 15 years ago. Valued for centuries to make beautiful textiles, this wonderful plant had almost disappeared over the last sixty years. But hemp is the only plant that has no predator, so it doesn’t need any pesticides, herbicides, or other cleanser; it grows easily, protects itself, and cleans the soil. For us, it is THE model plant for sustainable development. This is also why the chemical and synthetics lobby managed to prevent hemp production in a conspiracy worthy of the best detective novels.
Hemp is our specialty; it’s where we excel: for us, it is a living fiber which imparts its exceptional qualities for health and well-being to the wearer.
We are proud to be the pioneers of hemp’s renaissance in France. We were there at the launch of the Lin et Chanvre Bio Association, which aims to bring agricultural hemp textile production back to France. Thanks to the Association’s efforts and hard work, LCBio is making steady progress; we are convinced that within just a few years all our hemp will be grown in France.
We are also developing this field of expertise with other natural fibers, such as flax, which is also a high-quality virtuous fiber. And we will continue with wool, and other fibers, such as nettle for example.
We always select the finest fibers, the longest, the best, only those which allow us to create the highest quality fabric. We do not compare fibers; they each have their own benefits. But our goal is always to maintain their intrinsic qualities. For this, we prefer to leave them a little raw, with irregular finishes. We know this can be confusing at first glance, yet it is these imperfections that make them beautiful and unique.
Couleur Chanvre, A Pioneer in Clean Fabric Finishing
Dyeing and ennobling is the process of preparing a textile fabric for product use. This stage is the most critical because it uses highly toxic chemicals: phthalates, formaldehyde, perfluorinated compounds, polybromides or phosphates, azoic dyes, chlorinated products, acids, etc. All these products with barbaric names permeate the fabric and can poison us. Labels in no way warn us sufficiently of the harm. These products leave indelible traces and heavy metals in our air, water and soils. Textile dyes are responsible for 20% of the world's polluted water. At Couleur Chanvre, we've developed in-house expertise in this crucial phase of our work, thanks to Gilles, an outstanding craftsman with more than 30 years' experience. Gilles has been through all the industry's ups and downs, especially ecological scandals due to textile chemistry. Aware of our mission, Gilles took charge of the research in our St Jean de Luz workshop.
After years of trial and error, we have developed a proprietary process that avoids all toxic, irritating, allergenic and endocrine-disrupting primers and chemicals used in almost all textile production. Our eco-friendly dyes, all Certified GOTS 3.0, contain no fixing, fastening, or softening agents. It takes us a long time to dye; we dye only 70 kg of linen in one color over 10 hours.
We’ve also developed a proprietary non-toxic method of softening our fabrics. We use a big machine, akin to a dryer, and by varying the speed, temperature and time we are able to produce beautiful pieces with a luxurious feel. Extensive processing time is necessary to blend color and cloth perfectly. Our exclusive method is, therefore, more expensive. We are so proud to produce linen that reflects our integrity and respects our health and the environment. In addition, our process suits modern life; our linen can easily be washed hot without any shrinking or fading of color.
At our factory in St Jean de Luz, we optimize energy use and efficiently recycle water to use as little as possible.
Couleur Chanvre products are handcrafted, ethically sourced, and produced locally.
We are artisans, and we collaborate closely with equally passionate tradespeople. We generally seek talented artisans in our bio-region to support the local economy. Sadly, we are not always able to find the know-how we need close by, and sometimes expand our reach to other parts of Europe. We always choose our partners based on their artisanal production method and the high quality of their work. The craftspeople we work with share our mission and ethical stance; they often become our close friends.
All these values-based choices express our deep commitment to offering you a unique, gorgeous and healthy fabric.
St Jean de Luz - April 2021