The first synthetic dye - a bright mauve - was discovered by accident in 1856 by an 18-year-old chemistry student. Since then, making colour has become a billion dollar industry across the globe.
Tracey Logan visits Hainsworth in Leeds, the oldest dye house in the UK, to discover how they make create a huge range of fabrics, from scarlet coats for military uniforms to green baize for snooker tables.
But our love for colour has a darker side - the commercial dyeing industry has been criticised for its poor environmental record across the world, from excessive water use to dangerous waste products. Tracey meets the chemists from Leeds University attempting to make 'greener' dyes.
Producer: Michelle Martin.