Apprvl on Vogue.com for Earth Day 2018
With a background in fashion and textiles and a growing obsession with the effects of chemical dyes on human health and the planet, New York-based designer Megan Mussari may just be the perfect person to talk with eco-friendly alternatives to synthetic dyes. Mussari got started studying indigo “before shiboriindigo dyeing became such a big thing,” she says with a laugh. From there her curiosity quickly evolved into a passion project—one which saw her launch, in 2014, Apprvl, a unique collection of handmade and hand-dyed goods which utilize (you guessed it) natural, plant-based dyes. “It’s much better for us to have naturally dyed garments on our skin, sheets, and blankets,” says Mussari. “Some dyes, like turmeric, can have medicinal properties if worn close to your body. And since plants can be regrown, they’re a renewable, low-cost source.”
Four years later, nearly every shade on the color wheel is accounted for at Mussari’s studio. Reds (made from madder root) and pinks (who knew avocado pits produced such a pretty, pale-pink pigment?) commingle with the likes of vibrant yellow (from turmeric) and, of course, indigo (the most commonly known natural dye, which dates back to ancient India’s Indus river valley civilization) to create the most covetable items from coasters to coats. Results, of course, may vary—“You don’t always know what you’re going to get,” Mussari notes—but along with the element of surprise comes another one of delight. “I love making modern pieces with ancient techniques,” she says. “What you get is something deeply personal with lots of different shades and depth—and that’s worth the investment.”
Mussari is not alone in distancing herself and her work from the toxic dangers of synthetic and artificial dyes. From New York and Virginia to California and everywhere between, both established and emerging labels—including Simon Miller, Where Mountains Meet, and Supernaturae by Benedicte Lux —are part of an environmentally conscious community hoping to make their mark in the fashion industry one plant at a time with beautifully made, sustainable pieces. The range—from Elizabeth Few’s silky sleep mask hand-dyed using flowers and leaves to Simon Miller’s indigo canvas couch in collaboration with Stephen Kenn—is rich in color and endless in possibilities: good for the environment, good for your closet.