Cordwainers makes its dyes using plants. Photograph: courtesy Cordwainers Grow

A sustainable underwear company that has joined forces with a dye studio in Hackney is crowdfunding to help it ramp up production across the UK.

Little Black Pants Club, based in Brixton, is working in partnership with Cordwainers Natural Dye Studio (CNDS), based in Hackney Wick, to design a pair of knickers made from compostable elements and UK-grown peace silk.

CNDS, an offshoot of local community gardening organisation Cordwainers Grow, will soon be fundraising to develop the ‘soil to soil’ underwear – meaning the garments will have minimal impact on the environment, even when they are no longer usable.

Debbie Mitchener of Cordwainers Grow said: “[Eco-consciousness] used to be seen as a hippie thing. Now, it’s a trend. We really want to bring people on the [creative] journey with us.”

Crowdfunding is set to start on 1 November, with the partners hoping to develop beautiful new designs.

New patterns for the sustainable underwear are being trialled. Photograph: courtesy Cordwainers Grow

Little Black Pants Club is currently trialling new patterns, including animal print designs made using silk screens.

Donors to the campaign will be offered kits that will teach them how to dye their own fabric, make the pants at home, use them, and finally compost them when they wear out. The dyes and packaging can also be composted.

In addition to the creation of the underwear, CNDS is looking to set up more sites to grow plants in East London.

The sustainable dyes, made of plant products, come from Guernsey, and having more sites in East London will mean that the impact of the transportation of the dyes will be further minimised.

Mitchener said: “One of the concerns people have is that the dye will fade. If you look at dresses in the V&A from the 1700s, they’re all still beautifully colourful – those were dyed using a similar process.

“I think natural dyes get a bad name from the fast fashion industry.”

To keep up to date with the project, head to londonurbantextilescommons.co.uk or instagram.com/londonurbantc.

Support us

The coronavirus outbreak meant that the Hackney Citizen was unable to print a monthly newspaper for three months.

We're grateful that we have since been able to resume printing. This would not have been possible without the generosity of our readers, whose donations kept the paper from disappearing completely at a distressing time for residents.

A huge thank you to everyone who gave their time and money to support us through the lockdown, and to those who continue to do so as we slowly recover from the dramatic fall in advertising revenues, on top of the existing challenges threatening the future of local journalism.

A one-off donation or a regular contribution from anyone who can afford it will help our small team keep the newspaper in print and the website running in the coming months and years.

Find out how you can donate.

Thank you for your support, and stay safe.

The Hackney Citizen team