Rope-dyed indigo, pt. 3
Monday, 13th May 2013
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.
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.