The term colour fastness (also known as ‘colorfast’) is used in the textile industry to describe the resistance that a dyed fabric has to its colour running, fading or rubbing off onto other materials.
Clothing manufacturers need to ensure that when a customer washes an item of their clothing (at the recommended temperatures); there is minimal colour fading (e.g. a white top comes out grey), the colour should not run into other items of clothing (e.g. a red sock turning a white sheet pink) and lastly when it is worn the colour should not rub off on other clothing or materials (e.g. denim leaving a blue tinge to a white sofa).
Rich and dark colours (e.g. black, red, navy etc.) are the most problematic for colour fastness issues compared with lighter colours (e.g. whites, pastel colours etc.).
Before a garment is put on the shop floor it needs to go through a colour fastness test in order to highlight any issues that have been discussed above. Doing this before a garment is put on sale can save the company a lot of turmoil from disgruntled customers. For most clothing, nothing should be given the green light unless it has a fastness grade of at least 4 or above on the staining scale.
Problems in the future
Many clothing companies want to move away from using artificial synthetic dyes and start using natural dyes. For example, it has been rumoured that ‘Raw Denim’ is making a comeback which uses the natural indigo dye. Whilst this may be more natural and ethical, businesses need to be careful, as unlike synthetic dyes which can be specially treated for colour fastness, natural dyes cannot.
If you would like to find out more information about the digital grading of colour fastness test please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0116 284 7790.