For former LeSportsac veteran Julianne Applegate, who went rogue in July with her own line of boldly patterned stuff sacks, great design is synonymous with green design. “To create great, green design, you must have inspiration, skill, and the right materials,” she tells Ecouterre. In creating JulieApple, no detail was spared, from green fabrics (recycled-plastic canvas, organic hemp, purposed sailcloth) to a new ecological dyeing method that uses virtually no water.

AirDye technicians


When it comes to chemicals, waste, and water use, the traditional dyeing process is one of the most environmentally devastating aspects of the textile manufacturing process—one that is frequently overlooked in discussions over sustainable fashion. A whopping 17 to 20 percent of industrial pollution comes from textile coloring and treatment, notes The World Bank.

AirDye uses 90 percent less water and 85 percent less energy than conventional dyeing methods.

The AirDye system limits its reliance on agua by applying dispersed, PVC-free inks to a paper carrier, then heat-transferring the dyes from the paper to the surface of the fibers at a molecular level. Applying color in this fashion not only uses 90 percent less water than conventional methods, according to Colorep, but it also uses 85 percent less energy because extreme heat isn’t required to dry the fabrics after their dye baths.

A JulieApple bag almost finished


The AirDye method offers another advantage: Thanks to digital printing, it’s adaptable to short runs or large-scale production, which means you can crank out the exact yardage you need—no more, no less. “This is an enormous consideration,” Applegate says. “Few industry insiders talk about the excess raw materials they are required to purchase, but never use.”

AirDye can be used to print everything from a solid color to a photograph.

Aesthetics, of course, are paramount, and AirDye can be used to print “everything from a solid color to a photograph,” with richly saturated, photorealistic colors that are difficult to replicate with traditional printing processes. “Because of AirDye,” Applegate says, “JulieApple prints are designed without limitations. And because the fabric is 100 percent recyclable, like the bottles from which it’s created, it can be used to create new ideas in decades to come.”

+ JulieApple

+ AirDye