Simplifying the world of embroidery and making it greener on several levels, Coloreel's single needle technology is a freshly launched innovation. Here, Coloreel CEO Torbjörn Bäck introduces us to the eco-friendly newcomer.
Swedish embroidery innovation Coloreel launched just before the pandemic hit in the winter of 2020. Based in Borås – the textile hub of Sweden – this advanced software and high-speed technology enables the coloring of a single thread rather than the army of needle-and-thread sets typically used in industrial embroidery. The benefits with the innovation, which is based on a CMYK ink system, are many. The immediate start-up saves time, and complicated designs such as gradients and metallic effects can be achieved more easily than with a traditional system. "With Coloreel, you get a product that combines the design freedom of digital print with the craft-based feel of embroidery so you could say it offers the best of both worlds," notes Torbjörn Bäck, CEO Coloreel Group.
But it is Coloreel's green credentials that stand out. "Coloring the thread directly equals no wastewater and water pollution, while thread waste is tackled by the single reel of thread," notes Bäck. "The technology helps to make clothing manufacturing more eco-friendly in other ways, too. Aside from cutting water and thread waste, it'll shrink your transportation carbon footprint as there's no need to buy and get rid of old thread – you just keep filling a single reel. Moreover, the units are designed to complement the machines you already own so there's no need to throw anything out," says Bäck, observing that it's about time the industry looks at sustainability more holistically and down to the smallest detail – not only focusing on, say, the incorporation of organic cotton. As the industry tries to grapple with overproduction and the appalling habit of destroying unsold goods, brands are increasingly relying on personalization to revive past season collections. "Adding embroidery can help to re-invigorate the plainest of garments, and it taps into the rise in personalisation we're seeing in the fashion and sportswear sectors," says Bäck . "Essentially, embroidery has the potential to turn deadstock into something desirable, and it's a more sustainable form of embellishment as it's durable – much more so than a print – hence it's use in workwear and sportswear."
Coloreel will continue to evolve to broaden its offer. Currently available are the Instant Thread Coloring Unit (ITCU) and Coloreel Studio – a free colorization software – as well as design & digitizing services. The ITCU can be installed on any modern single-head or multi-head embroidery machine, and Coloreel Studio is compatible with any PC.
So what type of clients have bought into the innovation so far? "We cater for all sorts of clients – from super lux and mid-market fashion brands to sportswear and workwear companies," says Bäck. "Our customers are working with embroidery and decoration techniques in various ways and across different fields, be it fashion, promotional goods, workwear, sports or even art."
One of Coloreel's first creative partnerships saw Swedish artist Lisa Törner create large-scale, newspaper themed embroideries on denim jackets. "We really enjoyed working with Lisa Törner as she pushed the limits," enthuses Bäck. "Using the technology, she felt that the gradients, smooth color-shifting and shading Coloreel achieves made it look as if she'd sketched the embroidery artwork by hand. Her work brings to life the design and implementation potential we've been able to unlock for creatives across various fields."