John England is sometimes asked about colour shade variation between dye batches. To show how big an issue shade variation between dye batches is to the industry you only need to carry out a Google search on the subject.
The dyeing industry
John England feels there is too much acceptance of this in the industry as an unfortunate characteristic. Improved practices, and greater diligence and concentration by both management and operator is paramount to reducing the problem.
There is not only colour shade variation between dye batches. There is also shade variation within batches or even in a single fabric roll. The amount of dye stuff, machinery, time, fabric quality, employee error, etc., are a few of the many possible issues that can contribute to colour problems.
John England is not a dyer themselves so does not have full control of the dyeing process. Unfortunately we rely on third-party dyers to give us a service.
A wide range of on-trend colours
John England customers want to buy on-trend colours. They also like to avoid colours that everyone else has. To enable the company to satisfy this demand John England must hold a range of on-trend unique colours.
What John England does
To make it affordable to hold a range of colours in stock John England must dye small batches of 150-300 metres. Dyeing in small batches is much more expensive, and problematic. This obviously creates the problem of variation between batches. It is much more difficult to control dyeing in small batches, and between small batches. Especially if non-standard dyes are used.
Apart from this fabrics made from natural fibres can often have more of a problem anyhow. There is natural variations in the fibres, yarns and fabric themselves.
Recognising the market they are in, some top end manufacturers make a feature out of this small batch manufacturing variation. This is because it is an indicator, to the cognoscenti, that you are using bespoke made fabrics, dyed in expensive small batches.
As mentioned before John England does not accept this argument. It is a management problem.
One of the easiest ways to minimise this problem is to use standard dyes and chemicals. This is not easy to do if you are trying to match a current on-trend colour which has no standard dye.
It also helps to produce large batches to cover your projected production for a given period. This however does involve a stock holding. Most of John England customers work in the higher end or bespoke fashion market and do not always want to do this. However, larger batches are often easier to deal with technically and can keep variation to a minimum.
One way John England manages this situation is by issuing every batch with a batch number (FE????). Customers if they are aware of this number can quote it when requesting top-ups. If there is any of this batch still in stock for their repeat order they can minimise dye batch variation. This is especially a problem if the repeat order is being made-up with the previous order. Possibly as extra curtains, cushions, or to repair upholstery.
Quality control is important when managing the problem of dye batch variation. John England get samples for approval from the dyer before the bulk dyeing to allow rejection if not up to standard.