Do you remember the huge trend for colour-changing t-shirts? The t-shirt brand Global Hypercolour was ubiquitous in the late 1980s, producing t-shirts and other clothing that changed hue with changes in temperature. It may be a fad you were happy to say goodbye to, but now something similar has been reimagined for our more eco-concious age.
The 21st century colour-change t-shirt has been created as part of a collaboration between ethical clothing brand The Lost Explorer, and cutting-edge colour alchemists The Unseen. We’ve featured some of The Unseen’s fascinating colour experiments here on The Chromologist before – most recently their hair dye that changes colour as you move – but this one was just too good to miss. The reason? Unlike something that has to be painstakingly created in a lab, the t-shirts in question are something that you can create yourself – and from the most mundane of materials: red cabbage.
Red cabbage has the ability to change colour according to the ph levels in the water it comes into contact with. It’s thanks to a chemical it contains called anthocyanin, which changes colour according to levels of acidity. This video shows you not only how to dye your own t-shirt with red cabbage, but also presents the vivid differences in colour produced by water from different areas. While London’s water (ph 7.5) produces a pale violet shade, acid rain (ph 2) creates a pretty pink, and water from the Dead Sea (ph 6) produces a sunny yellow. Squeeze some acid lemon juice over the t-shirt and the results are even more striking! Created for World Oceans Day, the t-shirts are also suggested as a way to measure pollution levels in water around the globe. The Lost Explorer has produced a video of Lauren from The Unseen giving step-by-step instructions on how to dye a t-shirt with red cabbage yourself. Check it out to get started here.