Bacteria may be too small to see, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t colorful. An Austrian start-up called Vienna Textile Lab is taking advantage of that with a new line of dyes that are made using naturally-occurring bacteria.

Synthetic dyes on the market often rely on petrochemicals, whereas many of the natural dyes are subject to the conventional limitations that face all natural products: seasonal and geographic limitations, and the vagaries of weather. By cultivating bacterial strains in the lab, Vienna Textile Lab is able to capture the best of both worlds - a natural source of dyes that is endlessly renewable on demand.

The company has already developed a wide range of colors, and demonstrated that its dyes are both colorfast and capable of use with materials from cotton and wool to polyester. The company’s early commercialization plans focus on selling dyed fabric, but they ultimately hope to license the technology to large-scale textile manufacturers.


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