Rope-dyed indigo, pt. 3

Somewhere in north-east London today walks a man with bright blue hands. That man is the one-man-mill, who, over the past few months, has woven many meters of rope-dyed indigo cotton; those perma-stained paws evidence of dealing with the most intense indigo around.

The story so far is the unlikely one of weaving rope-dyed indigo cotton in London. Industrial weaving of any type in the capital is unheard of; weaving rope-dyed indigo cotton — by most measures the finest indigo cotton there is — takes the peculiarity a significant notch upwards. Nevertheless, the cloth, first talked about here and here, has now been woven. Hand-woven, that is to say — with the beady-eye meticulousness, care, and attention to tension for which the one-man-mill is in certain circles now renowned.

Indigo and attire, of course, go way back. Back to Neo-Babylonian times, via the Greco-Roman and the Edo. But, more recently, and more relevantly, indigo and attire are well-acquainted through workwear — for denim used for jeans, and for calicos and cotton-twills for continental labouring uniforms and suchlike. Seems fitting, then, to stick with tradition, and put the London-made rope-dyed indigo to use for a type of workwear. Not workwear in the traditional sense of pockets vestigial from manual work two centuries ago, or cloth so coarse it takes a family several generations to really break in. No — workwear in the sense of being built with use, versatility, and durability squarely in mind; attire developed with the idea of imparting upon wearer some sense of advantage.

Jacket in pattern-development — suffice to say not yet made from rope-dyed indigo cotton.

None of this is groundbreaking, but it is grounding, and easily overlooked in favour of many other thoughts when developing garments. Thus the rope-indigo cotton jacket will be useful, with large and compartmentalised pockets; it will be versatile, with soft shoulders and a light touch in terms of structure for comfort and ease of movement; and it will be durable, with reinforced elbows, strengthened seams, and liberal bar-tacking.

Back to the cloth. The most bright and rich indigo around. Dipped a dozen times in pure indigo dye; saturated to its core. Its colour will fade slowly, gracefully, and not ahead of its time. The yarn itself, meanwhile, is a high-grade cotton. It drapes superlatively well, is all but crease-resistant, and has the feel of being pleasingly worn-in right from the off.

The rope-dyed indigo blazer, in two or three colours, will be ready in about two weeks.