Japanese Indigo and the Art of Shibui

There is an old Japanese proverb: The indigo dyer always wears white. Which basically means: when you’re busy making incredible stuff for other people, you don’t have much time to promote yourself. Deep. This is why you’ve probably never heard of the Kaihara textile mill. No self-promotion necessary.

In the far east of Hiroshima, up twisting mountain roads, overlooking the inland sea, is the factory that produces some of the highest-quality denim in the world. We are semi-obsessed with Japanese fabrics, and they have helped inspire many of our past and present collections. So for our Indigo Collection, produced in extremely limited quantities to ensure utmost quality, we went straight to the source – artisanal Japanese fabrics dyed with rich, deep, natural indigo. At Kaihara, they are indigo masters with dying traditions from the Fukuyama region that go back to the 19th century.

Natural indigo is like the bluest blue on the planet, extracted from the Japanese ai plant for the last 1,500 years or so through the occult art of aizome. These days, only a handful of Japanese farmers still produce it the traditional way, drying and fermenting the indigo leaves with ingredients like wheat bran, wood ash, lime, and sake in a temperamental process that takes months to reach perfection. How can you tell if the dye is ready? Dip your finger in and taste it! Indigo-dyed fabrics actually repel insects and bacteria, so the ancient samurai wore them to fend off mosquitoes and heal injuries. (#warriorproblems)

Sarah Yahr Tucker