Apr 29, 2022
by James Roberts
Olderbrother Has Partnered With Local Bees for SS22
by James Roberts
Apr 29, 2022

You think you’ve seen it all when it comes to natural dyeing and Earth-friendly design, but then someone comes along and does this. Olderbrother’s SS22 collection is — get this — dyed with bee pollen.

Aptly named Pollination, the collection has been made in partnership with the bees of Eli’s Bees Company, in the Santa Monica mountains. Sixteen beehives in Topanga were sustainably harvested over three months. Collections were made every three days at alternating sites so as to minimize the impact on the insects. At peak production, 6lbs was collected per day. That’s a lot of pollen considering it is basically dust.

The resulting colors from dyeing with the pollen depend on the plants that the bees visited. Local plants like Ceanothus, Black Sage, Toyon, and Laurel Sumac. Hives were monitored to time pollen collection with the peak bloom of the Chaparral (an ecoregion of California), when nectar and pollen are at their most fertile.

In addition to the pollen, other plants like weld, mulberry wood, and nut tannin extracts were used to dye the garments. The result is a collection of yellow, beige and brown items that reflect the landscape they’re born from. Natural indigo was also used to dye the denim pieces in a spectrum of blues.

Olderbrother is no stranger to innovative and unusual methods of dyeing. Its FW21 collection used fermented plants as its color source and was named, you guessed it, Fermentation.

The design of the collection is, in the words of Olderbrother, “inspired by a DIY return-to-nature gardening/bee keeper aesthetic.” There are French chore jackets with useful pockets and beeswaxed organic cotton patches. There are wide-legged overalls made with Japanese organic denim and washed to softness with plant enzymes. And a hemp hoodie that’s like linen, with a front zip and large pockets. It’s a collection of garments that look ready for the garden. The waxed panels on the bottom of the jeans are “intended for dancing in rain or hiking through scrub brush.”

Also in the collection are T-shirts, tank tops, cowboy-style shirts, shorts and a corduroy zip jacket.

This is a very considered collection that’s conscious and understanding of its environment. By partnering with local experts and getting to know the local ecology, Pollination explores the relationships between humans and nature; between us and bees. “The biggest threat to sensitive insect populations is human interference, pesticides, herbicides, the loss of native plant habitat from development and the introduction of invasive plants,” states Olderbrother on its website. This collection is a small step towards preventing that threat.

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