“IT WAS A GREAT CHALLENGE FOR ME TO SUCCESSFULLY COMBINE THE NATURAL DYEING OF YARNS WITHOUT CHEMICALS, TOGETHER WITH GREEK TRADITION AS SEEN THROUGH MY OWN EYES, AND PERFECTION IN THE QUALITY OF OUR GARMENTS…” -Smaragda Navridis, designer of Nisos 1948
Smaragda Navridis and Gregory Hatsatourian, the wife and husband duo behind the menswear label Nisos 1948, uses a unique dyeing process inspired by the premier luxury dye of the ancient world, “Porphyra” or Tyrian purple—a reddish purple natural dye extracted from a particular species of sea snail.
Their special mix of natural ingredients carefully collected from all over the world. A combination of fruits, woods, rocks, and vegetables produce each color and maintain the original characteristics of the natural fibers. One of the beneficial aspects to this method is the protection of the environment, using no chemicals and all natural elements there is no chemical waste.
According to Aristoteles, the preparation of the dye for clothes began in spring. It was extremely time-consuming and the final product was worth its weight in gold, since thousands of snails were required to produce just one gram of dye. Only royalty and very wealthy people could afford to dye their clothes in this manner. One of the most striking characteristics of “Porphyra” was that it did not fade but actually became brighter and more intense with weathering and sunlight. The Greek islands, amongst which Rhodes, Kos, Amorgos, Chios and Crete, were renowned for its production. The other dyes with herbs and fruits were also intended exclusively for the wealthy, as colored garments were a luxury in antiquity. Common people’s clothes were undyed. Natural dyes, with raw materials deriving from nature, were used for thousands of years, until the late 19th century when chemical dyes came into common use. Chemical dyes were quite a revolution as they were used for everybody’s clothing.