Technical details
Open Accordion
Size + fit
Open Accordion

Fit guide: The Black Algae T Shirt is designed with a regular fit.

Model wears: Greg Kheel is 6ft 2 / 188cm with a 39 inch / 99cm chest. Greg has an athletic build and is wearing the Black Algae T Shirt in size M.

Personalised advice: See our size guide for more advice on sizing, or you can ask us for personalised sizing advice here.

Returns and exchanges: Don’t worry if you order something and it doesn’t fit – we have a free, no hassle 30 day return and exchange period.

XSSMLXLXXLXXXL
Fits chest83-9091-9899-106107-114115-122123-130131-138
Fits waist71-7676-8181-8686-9191-9696-101102-107
XSSMLXLXXLXXXL
Fits chest33-3636-3939-4242-4545-4848-5152-55
Fits waist28-3030-3232-3434-3636-3838-4041-43
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Black Algae T Shirt

How we’re using technology to tackle sustainability

There are three ways to tackle sustainable clothing. You can use advances in material technology to make clothes with a longer life expectancy than the people wearing them. You can start digging into waste and trash streams to use the stuff people have already generated and thrown away. Or you can go back to using nature to make clothes that require as little energy as possible and leave no trace of their existence at the end of their lives.

Black Algae T Shirt

We’re going back to the start of the supply chain

With our 100 Year range, our Garbage range, and Algae range, we’re now tackling all three routes at the same time. The reason is simple. At some point either these three approaches are going to come together. Or we’re going to learn something in the R&D of one that impacts how you go about making the others. And with the Black Algae T Shirt we’re going back to the very start of the supply chain to take on a harmful and pervasive pigment known as carbon black.

Black Algae T Shirt

What is carbon black

Unless you’ve spent your life on a desert island with no clothes and no possessions, you’ll run into carbon black every day. It’s in the ink in your black pen, your black phone case, and the tyres on your car. Carbon black is the pigment that’s used to make black things black. But we don’t question where it comes from because very few people know it’s even there.

Black Algae T Shirt

Making the colour black hasn’t changed for 100 years

The way carbon black is made hasn’t really changed for over a century. At mass scale the process begins with a fossil fuel like heavy petroleum which is fed into an industrial furnace and allowed to partially combust. This creates a black powder that looks a bit like soot. And this is carbon black. It’s then used to colour everything from inks, to plastics, to rubber, and you’ll find it everywhere on the planet.

Black Algae T Shirt

Why we’re looking for alternatives to carbon black

There are lots of problems associated with carbon black. The manufacturing process creates greenhouse gases which are released into the atmosphere. And the heavy petroleum needed to make it comes from places known as oil sands, or tar sands. These are barren areas of our planet that are stripped of all vegetation so that oil can be extracted from the ground. And as ecosystems are eroded more carbon is emitted.

Black Algae T Shirt

We’re working with a US biomaterials startup

With the help of US biomaterials company Living Ink, we’ve found a method of making our t shirt without using any carbon black. After their founders Scott and Steve discovered that an algae cell is almost identical in size to a carbon black pigment, and can create the same colour, they’ve been on a mission to replace carbon black ink with a black ink made from black algae waste.

Black Algae T Shirt

Our algae is grown in giant ponds

The algae we use starts life in huge open-air ponds where it grows by feeding on sunlight, carbon dioxide, water and nutrients. These ponds contain vast quantities of spirulina algae which absorb carbon dioxide and pump oxygen back out into the atmosphere. While the majority of the algae is used to make natural food colourings, the rest of the algae is harvested and used as the base for black algae ink.

Black Algae T Shirt

A thermo treatment turns the algae into ink

After it’s harvested, the algae by-product is heat treated to concentrate it into a black powder which we use as pigment. This treatment seals in carbon dioxide which has been absorbed by the algae during its lifespan, preventing it from making its way back into the atmosphere. The black powder is then purified and mixed with a water-based binder to create black algae ink.

Black Algae T Shirt

Printed with black algae ink

To make a normal black t shirt you dye the fibres black. But black algae dye hasn’t been invented yet. So we’re seeing what we can do with black algae ink by printing the entire outer surface of the t shirt with it. This is the first time this has been attempted. Which is why the t shirt is a really dark grey rather than jet black. The base material of the t shirt is an untreated, beige coloured tree pulp. And it turns out that tree pulp and black algae make a very dark grey marl.

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Built with carbon capture technology

Once the t shirt has been built and printed, the black algae ink continues to lock in the carbon dioxide that it absorbed when it was alive. And it will do this for over 100 years. So the t shirt you’re wearing is storing carbon emissions. This is known as carbon capture technology and it means that rather than producing emissions, the Black Algae T Shirt does the exact opposite.

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Looks and feels just like a regular t shirt

While the Black Algae T Shirt is highly technical to create, you wouldn’t know it just by putting it on. It looks like a regular t shirt, feels like a regular t shirt, and lasts as long as one too. The thing that makes it different is simply the way it starts and ends its life. All the materials we’ve used were grown in nature. Each t shirt is made from eucalyptus trees from sustainably managed forests. And the algae is grown in giant ponds in California. We also wash the t shirt with a softener made from mangos so it looks and feel lived-in from the moment you first put it on.

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How to look after the algae

The black algae ink has been engineered to be UV resistant so it will hold its colour for years. But since this is a bio-based ink it won’t behave exactly like a petroleum-based ink. Over time the black colour may brighten around the edges next to the seams. To make the algae last for as long as possible we recommend hand washing the t shirt in cold water with as little detergent as possible.

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The material is made out of pulped eucalyptus and beech

The rest of the t shirt is made from wood pulp from sustainably managed forests. Eucalyptus, beech, and spruce are chipped and pulped, before being turned into fibre, then yarn and finally fabric. All the wood is harvested from sustainable forestry plantations and certified by both the Forestry Sustainability Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Representing over 700 million acres of certified forests, the PEFC is the largest forest certification system in the world.

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It’s produced using a closed loop production process

The wood is turned into fabric using an environmentally responsible and closed loop production process. In practice this means that over 99% of the water and solvent used to turn pulp into fibre is recycled and reused. And on the Higg MSI scoring system which measures the impact of producing a kilogram of fibre – taking into account fossil resource depletion, water scarcity, eutrophication and global warming – this fabric scores 10 against cotton’s score of 60. Our eventual aim is to score 0.

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What happens at the end of the t shirt’s life

Although it looks and feels like a normal t shirt, it doesn’t end life like a normal t shirt. As the material is made entirely from plants this will biodegrade in about 12 weeks if you put it in soil. Once the material has disappeared just the black algae ink will remain in an almost imperceptible, safe and non-toxic state. And while other organic materials release carbon dioxide when they decompose, this ink will continue storing its carbon for over 100 years.

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Algae is part of our past and future

Made up of over 75,000 different species, algae includes everything from giant underwater kelp forests and seaweed, to phytoplankton and green pond slime. But without algae, life on Earth may not even exist. Not only does it still produce 50 – 80% of the oxygen on the planet, but 3.5 billion years ago it was the cyanobacteria found in algae that led to the ‘Great Oxygenation Event’ that helped create life itself. 3 billion years later, shallow freshwater algae became the source of all plant life on Earth, including the trees that make this t shirt.

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