by: Caroline Mason
Blue has traditionally been known to elicit stronger emotions in people than any other color. Indigo, an intensely deep shade of the color, is possibly the most alive version of blue that one can imagine. Over the years it has served as inspiration to many of our designers, some of whom have gone on to create collections dedicated entirely to the shade. This season, Visvim, Dosa, Arts & Science, Suzusan, 1.61, and ApuntoB have all incorporated indigo into their summer collections.
Dosa has worked for years with this technique, creating pieces that range from traditional Yoruban indigo in collaboration with Gasali to fabrics from India, the Tuareg and the Miao.
Visvim, designed by Hiroki Nakamura, also delves into the process by playing with traditional Japanese dying techniques. His fabrics, all of which are woven exclusively for the brand, are carefully hand-dyed in order to achieve the variations and imperfections that Nakamura seeks. He favors the indigo process for its ability to be so exacting, allowing him to stay true to his original vision.
Our appreciation for these indigo pieces is not just about color, but also the time-consuming craftsmanship that goes into creating each garment. The dying techniques, which traditionally come from African, Indian and Japanese cultures, are known to be extremely laborious and require rigorous meticulousness when done properly.
The indigo pigment, one of the world’s oldest and most valued dyes, is derived from the leaves of various species of Indigofera plant genus, a plant that was once believed to have mystical properties. Alone, indigo is unable to fuse with fabrics and must undergo special treatments until it becomes a colorless substance known as ‘indigo white.’ Only after exposure to air or water will the liquid turn to the familiar shade of blue. Once the dye is created, it’s up to the artist to determine the exact shade of blue that they desire. Repeated dips into the dye result in various, darker shades of blue. These can range from a faint tint to jet black, a concept that both Suzusan and Art & Science frequently play with, using traditional Japanese indigo dyeing techniques.
Fulfilling the role that black has traditionally played in city life, indigo serves as the perfect match for our lifestyle out east. Blue is Tiina’s favorite color and, as she told NY Times “indigo is the most natural, alive version of it. I used to live in black clothes when I lived in New York, but they seem too hard in both the light and the life out East.” Indigo has a life of it’s own; unlike any other pigment it changes slightly each time your wear or wash it creating an ever evolving and personalized cycle of color.