Natural Brazilian Colours: the work of Flavia Aranha

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Pau-Brasil, Crajirú, Urucum, Macela, Erva-Mate and, Jabuticaba are all household plant names in Brazil. They are some of the fruits, seeds and roots that designer Flavia Aranha uses to colour the clothing pieces in her collections. By making the use of these plants an intrinsic element of her work, she succeeds in creating a modern and sophisticated fashion label that boasts environmental and social responsibility while valuing its natural Brazilian richness.

 

Flavia Aranha

Inheriting her creative passion from her grandparents, Brazilian designer Flavia Aranha first embarked upon her career when she took a beginner’s sewing course at age 12. By 17, Flavia had passed her first season studying at the prestigious college Central St. Martins in London. Following this period away from Brazil, she returned to São Paulo to study fashion and undertook work experience with esteemed Brazilian designers such as Karlla Girotto and Adriana Bozon, from Ellus. 

As part of this work experience, Flavia travelled to China and India to better understand how the conventional fashion industry functioned and to assist in redesigning the brand's production chain. While abroad, Flavia experienced first-hand the harmful impact that the industry has on the environment and the precarious conditions in which workers (often women and children) are subjected to.

Years ago, before it hit mainstream discussion, Flavia could already attest to the fact that one of the foremost contaminating productions in the world is the textile-dyeing industry. With the knowledge of the extensive damage industrial textile-dying caused the planet both socially and environmentally, Flavia Aranha decided that she would break away from the traditionally harmful fashion industry and pave her own sustainable path.

 
Natural dyeing is at the heart of our brand
— Says the designer to Revista-se

Brand environmental and social responsibility

Flavia Aranha created her own clothing atelier for women in 2009, pioneering the Brazilian market by developing a sustainable, slow-fashion label with the promise to produce items that caused less harm to the environment. 

Seeking a more humane process, Flavia travelled across Brazil to discover traditional knowledge and craft techniques that she could bring into her own work. Each trip influenced the design of a collection and inspired her to create environmentally-friendly solutions for common issues. 

The essence of Flavia’s brand is the use of Brazilian plants and herbs to produce the dye with which she colours her clothing. All dyeing and stamping is accomplished using 100% raw materials obtained from renewable sources, without using any kind of heavy metal. The designer always adds a touch of sophistication and delicacy to her clothing and accessory collections, proving that it is possible to run a sustainable fashion label and still produce beautiful items.

Centuries ago, people used several types of natural raw materials for textile dyeing (plants, barks, and minerals) and gave color and life to the fabrics. With the emergence of synthetic dyes, much of this traditional knowledge was forgotten. To regain this knowledge and to think about the potential of Brazilian biodiversity, the brand preferably uses native species in its pieces, aligning biomes and colours.
— explains Flavia Aranha about her brand’s ethos
 

As time progressed, Flavia’s main focus shifted towards the growth of her brand and the maintenance of its crucial ethos. For this purpose, she began to collaborate with the Brazilian National Service of Industrial Learning (Senai) to develop extracts of dyes made from plants that could be used on an industrial scale. Her multi-functional dyeing studio is also equipped as a research laboratory, aiming to develop positive impact actions and new technologies that can be used in wide-scale production. Specifically, Flavia investigates new raw materials with the aim to develop a lower-cost production method that generates items of the same quality but wastes less time and energy.

In this manner the costs of the pieces will decrease, because we will be able to dye a greater amount of fabrics with less time spent, plants, water, and energy
— Flavia explained in an Article for Believe Earth

Flavia Aranha believes that by sharing her techniques and discoveries through courses and transparent communication, she will inspire more people and brands who dream of achieving sustainable values.

Her pieces are available in Brazil and Portugal. If you like to know more about her work and more details of the process you can find the information here (Portuguese) or below.

 

INFO

Words:

Nina Zulian

Editor:

Gemma Osei