World 2

In the years after Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring shone a spotlight on the horrific impacts of pesticide use, public attention in World 2 shifted to chemical textile dyestuffs. A series of high-profile disasters, coinciding with a period of unprecedented international cooperation, led to a drastic measure: a worldwide ban on synthetic dyes.

Forced to regroup, the fashion industry attempted to focus the public’s attention on silhouette and construction. Yet wearers found they could not live without colour and pattern. A diverse range of intentional staining practices emerged, drawing on traditional dyeing knowledge and each carrying complex social meanings.

What if …

we couldn’t use synthetic dyes, and had to find other ways of colouring and decorating our clothes?

Issue targeted:

environmental and human impact of synthetic dye effluent and associated chemicals


an array of traditional and contemporary approaches to colouring fabrics without synthetic dyes

This World was contributed by Amy Twigger Holroyd (located in Nottingham, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

Response to World 2

Of The Handmaid’s Tale, where part of the political conservatism led to traditional and clean techniques, including textiles and clothing, only natural fibers. Its more clear in the book than in the series.

– Ileana Jalil Kentros

Does this World remind you of something?

I am keen to hear about any historical or contemporary real-world examples – whether individual practices, subcultures or mainstream activities – that this fiction brings to mind.

Please share any such examples using this form. Thank you!

Published by Amy Twigger Holroyd

explorer of Fashion Fictions