The craft of indigo dye has been nurtured since the 19th century in Japan, becoming widespread in the early 20th century.
With almost 2000 cultivators in the early 20th century, Japan had its heyday of indigo production in the regions around Tokyo, and on the island of Shikoku.
In recent times there has been a revival of craftsmanship in a very powerful and creative way, perhaps due to a change of consciousness and the strive to consume products that are in balance with the environment and sustainability. The art of indigo dye has found its most elevated form with the creatives behind Buaisou, a collective whose mission is to preserve the ancestral art of indigo blue dye.
SHIBORI-ZOME : Tie-Dyeing
Tie-Dye is a primitive dyeing technique found in many parts of the world. In this technique, the fabric is tied, twisted, or sewn before dying, resulting in dye-resistant sections.
Created in 2015 by Kakuo Kaji who responded to an open call from the Japanese Ministry for Education, offering to train up to two people in the craft of indigo dye. Buaisou was born as a collective of farmers and dyers who handcraft the entire process from start to finish.
Completely dedicated to indigo dying, the aim is to preserve this art form before it was lost forever. Buaisou attracts worldwide interest, organizing workshops, collaborating with a variety of brands from UNIQLO, New Balance, QuickSilver and Sakurai Teas to celebrities such as Kanye West.
The attentiveness to detail and the passion for the process has also enhanced a strong cultural trait of Japan, showcasing not only a high-quality product but also a higher mindset of dedication to an art form.
The collective grows the indigo plants, and through a process of fermentation they make a natural dye that has a unique violet-blue color known as ‘Japan Blue’. The collective is reviving two heritage traditions – farming and dyeing – in Japan, flourishing a new interest in the craft and a renewed approach to clothes making – ‘From farm to closet’.
Photography by @Kyoko Nishimoto