Dyeing and Treatment Options for Blank Hoodies

The processes used for garment-dyeing have evolved over centuries. Luckily, now we live in a world where any blank hoodie can be made in any color and in a vast array of finishes with ease. This article traces the development of some textile dyes and the modern innovations and explores the key methods used today to add color and dimension to your garments.

In the modern era, most traditional dyes have been superseded by synthetic equivalents making them more affordable and consistent.  By the 21st century, regulations, testing and hard-won experience have allowed the fashion industry to color garments with confidence and security. Modern dying processes can be divided into two distinct types with three further processes that can be applied to give texture and dimension.

Reactive Dyes:

The first of these is the most durable and ideal for daily use. Invented in the 50’s, Reactive dyes might be best understood if we think of the textile fiber in the same way we might think of hair. Rather than applying a layer of color to the surface of the strands, reactive dyes penetrate and chemically alter the strand to create a new color. A cold reactive dye is typically mixed with an activator substance for the chemical process to begin. Reactive dyes can use a small amount of cold water to achieve recovering making them one of the less impactful dying processes available today. Clothing colored this way tends to retain its vibrancy throughout washing, rubbing and in bright sunlight.

Pigment Dyes:

Pigment dying is an alternative method that doesn’t chemically or structurally alter the fiber, but instead coats it in a layer of new color. For this new color to stay, the material will need a fixative, a chemical binder or resin. Essentially, it will need to be glued in place. Think of painting a door and then applying a layer of finish. Ideal for applying branding or graphics to blank hoodies and t-shirts, it is a much cheaper option compared to reactive dyes. It’s also a better option when applied to a mixed fiber garment. Reactive dyes can be harder to predict when interacting with nylon, cotton and elastane and the result could be patchy or washed out. Conversely, because a pigment dye is simply fixed to the surface the result is more predictable.

Silicone Wash:

Away from colors, there are three key processes used to give modern clothing its look, texture and feel. These are silicone washes, acid washes and enzyme washes. A silicone wash is best compared to the conditioner you might use after shampooing to improve the condition, feel and strength of the hair. On a finished garment, a silicone wash reduces the piling or fuzz that gathers on the surface, strengthens the individual fibers and helps make the finished apparel feel smooth and soft. This process might be carried out after damaging intensive dying to help restore the softness of the textile.

Acid Wash:

Acid washes were made popular by the American fashion brand Guess in the 80’s, who used the process to give textiles a worn, distressed vintage aesthetic. Primarily associated with denim and cotton, the process fades the indigo dyes and can create soft blues, or marble-like patterning. Achieved by effectively adding bleach and an abrasive such as stone, sand or pumice to a dry wash, the process replicates the bleaching effects of sunlight and the natural wear and tear of extended wear. In the 2000’s the process was taken to extremes with deliberate rips, sandblasting and staining used to make cotton materials look highly distressed and worn.

Enzyme Wash:

Finally, the Enzyme wash technique was developed when the fashion industry recognized the need for a more sustainable alternative to acid washing. This approach creates the same worn and faded effect as acid washing, but instead of using bleach and an abrasive it uses biological enzymes. Historically, this approach uses less water than acid washing, and recent developments have even allowed the effect to be produced using a fine mist, reducing the water consumption further.

Through using the processes above, heavyweight hoodies can be made to look vintage, and any wholesale blanks can have the look and feel of a much-loved university hoodie. Furthermore, by choosing reactive dyes for the textile and pigment dyes for the graphics or branding, you can assure your garments have long-lasting vibrant colors.

West Coast Blends’ premium blank hoodies can be purchased uncolored ready for you to use some of the above dyeing and finishing processes to bring your designs to life.