Robert Frost once wrote, “Nothing gold can stay,” and while he was referring to the slow decay of what was once a pure, simple place - Earth - Frost's words hold true with respect to pigment dyed garments and their color. Because when it comes to pigment dyed apparel, no color - not blue, red, green, orange, yellow, black, silver, or white - can stay. But that's okay. In fact, color fades from pigment dyed apparel by design.
Pigment dyeing is arguably a misnomer. In fact, pigments, the foundation of pigment dyes and pigment dyeing, are insoluble and thus, cannot naturally bind to cotton fibers and fabrics. However, when treated with resin or adhesive agents, these pigments form pigment dyes, which are able to attach to an array of fabrics and are applied to finished garments. But, pigment dyes sit on top of fibers and actually, only coat the outside layer of fibers and fabrics rather than fully absorb into them, like other dyes do. And because these dyes are only attached to the outer layer of fabrics, they are not able to hold their color as well and after each wear and wash, they fade.
However, the properties of pigments and the fading characteristics of pigment dyed apparel is no mystery to clothing manufacturers. Why, you might ask, would they continue to make pigment dyed shirts, jeans, and pants if they know they will fade.
Well, because, like fine wine, the aging and fading of pigment dyed clothing can be graceful. Each wash of a pigment dyed garment results in one that is softer in color, as well as in touch, and if dyed well, the progression can be elegant and appealing. In fact, while the fading process can be gentle and the color changes subtle, putting on a pigment dyed pair of pants or shirt after a wash can be like putting on a new piece of clothing but of a different color and with all of the comfort and softness of a well-worn garment.
So, while it's true that nothing gold can stay, at least when it comes to pigment dyed clothing, we think that's just fine.