Founded in 2015, by Karen Hess, local dialect began as a project which desired to translate the language of the land into color. Originally a blog beginning in 2006, which reflected on the unique beauties and mysteries of her local landscape, Karen had a vision of local dialect becoming an online clothing and textile shop that would reflect her appreciation of the natural world, and be a collaboration with the local plants of the Sonoma and Marin area. The land in the San Francisco North Bay offers up a detailed language, transmitted through plants in natural dye color.

All clothing and accessories are carefully hand dyed by Karen with local plants and mushrooms and the corresponding artwork inspired by this process is created by her. Karen’s naturally dyed garments feature plant-based color that promotes health and wellness for both the wearer and the land it comes from. Plant-based color palettes are naturally harmonious and neutral, the surprising colors glow, sometimes with subtle secondary color, allowing the innate beauty of the wearer to come through.

“Natural color is very special, it has much more depth to it than synthetic dye can achieve. Sometimes I’ll take a photo of a garment I’ve dyed green and it photographs purple instead, because of the way the light reflects and what the camera can perceive. You may have a dominant color, but within a natural dye, there are many secondary colors that enhance the dominant hue and give it its depth.” says Karen.

Each garment is made in very limited quantities, each has a story to tell, and each garment reminds us of the traditional, sustainable processes that make us human and connect us to the rest of the world.

local dialect is a Northern California Fibershed artisan producer.

“In the past, textiles referenced our places of origin. Localized regions around the world had particular colors or textile patterns based on their local plants, fibers and traditions, fashion functioned as a sense of place. In some ways, ‘wear’ and ‘where’ meant the same thing in botany’s local dialect.” —Karen Hess