London-based Vollebak, which “uses science and technology to make the future of clothing happen faster,” has released its new Black Algae T Shirt. This unique t-shirt is made with wood pulp from sustainably managed forests, dyed with black algae, and washed with a softener made from mangos so it looks and feels lived-in from the moment you first put it on. To develop the black algae dying process, Vollebak partnered with US biomaterials company, Living Ink. The company harvests spirulina algae by-product — left over from producing natural food colorings — and heats it to produce a black powder. Mixed with water, it becomes black algae ink. This process also allows the algae to capture and lock in carbon dioxide, and is UV resistant, giving it the ability to retain its dark color for years without fading or degrading. The use of the algae also enables the shirt to be fully biodegradable within just 12 weeks of being returned to the earth, all while looking and feeling like a regular premium men’s tee.
The color black has long been one of the most popular colors utilized in the clothing industry, though the lion’s share of garments that sport the hue contain petroleum-derived carbon black — a less-than-eco-friendly ingredient that has been the global standard for a century. Recognizing carbon black’s lack of sustainability and widespread use, the innovative minds at Vollebak turned to this new dying method using black algae, which is the first time this has been attempted. Rather than a true black color, the Vollebak Black Algae T Shirt is a deep, dark grey since the base material of the t-shirt is an untreated, beige-colored tree pulp, hence the grey color.
For another of Vollebak’s sustainable products, check out the 100 Year Ski Pants.