When it comes to men’s basics, we love the plain white tee. It’s a blank canvas, the building block to a complete outfit. But, we’re also fond of the simple, statement-making plain black tee. It’s not necessarily showy, but it can draw attention in a way that the white tee simply does not. But, there’s a dark side to most black tees. To get that jet black color, clothing companies typically use carbon black, a pigment derived from petroleum that has a giant carbon footprint. Vollebak very well might be the first high-profile apparel company to buck the trend by introducing a brand new way to craft black tees: algae.
This week, Vollebak unveiled its sustainably made t-shirt that uses black algae ink. The Black Algae T Shirt, which is constructed using pulped eucalyptus and beech, will look and feel just like any other shirt. But, after teaming up with biomaterials company Living Ink, Vollebak discovered a way to innovate on this sartorial staple by using sustainable methods. All of the algae used to produce the black pigment is grown in pods and thermotreated to turn it into ink. Algae feed on naturally present carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen. So, according to Vollebak, algae used in the shirt will continue “to lock in the carbon dioxide that it absorbed when it was alive.”
Vollebak has a successful track record of innovating and experimenting in the world of fashion. And this is just the latest example of the UK-based company taking a serious look at how things have been done and seeing how it could be improved. The Black Algae T Shirt is a first-of-its-kind garment making use of carbon capture, thanks to the algae, and a closed-loop production process as over 99% of the water used to turn the eucalyptus and beech pulp into clothing fiber is recycled and reused. Plus, once you’ve clocked enough miles in the shirt, it’ll biodegrade in dirt in 12 weeks leaving behind its carbon capturing algae ink.
Vollebak is planning an initial limited run of the Black Algae T Shirt which will cost $110. The team at Vollebak knows this won’t exactly start a revolution in the fashion world. But, it’s inspiring to see a company adopt such robust sustainable practices in making stylish clothes.