230004-365ProductStraight Rinsed Indigo Jeans
Even though we consider both the sky and the sea to be ‘blue’, it is one
of nature’s rarest colours. Blue was also the last of all colours to
appear in the languages, to be named and referenced with a specific
word. In ancient texts, from any continent and culture, the world is
described as anything but blue. For a large part of human history, there
was no access to blue pigments and no way to render the colour for dyes
or paints. But ever since indigo was discovered about five thousand
years ago, its suggestive shades of blue have been highly valued –
associated with power, magic and divinity. As has the plant that was
used to produce them, the red-flowered Indigofera bush, native to both
Asia and America in a variety of species.
The deep indigo colour cannot be extracted from the plant directly, but is released first through fermentation of the leaves and then in an alkalic solution where textiles can be dyed, traditionally by hand in large vats. Dipping the fabric in the bath results in a golden green colour, which develops into a distinctive blue when the dye comes in contact with air. With oxidation, the microscopic dye particles are fixed on the fibres, returning them to their insoluble form. This means that once dyed, indigo fabrics can last for millennia.
Indigo was the last of all major dyes to be produced synthetically, a few years before 1900. The new chemical invention completely eliminated the use of natural indigo from commercial dyeing. These new blues were pure and precise, without the slight impurities and variations of their natural counterpart. And being both cheaper and easier to use than black, they became the standard colour for work uniforms, from labourers’ overalls to police suits.
Even though indigo is the base for all blue dyes, all blue clothing, it is especially associated with denim which became the workwear of American miners and farmers from the late 1800s onwards. The characteristic three-dimensional quality in a pair of heavily worn jeans is directly related to the properties of the indigo dye. Since the pigments do not penetrate the cotton fibres but bond only on top of them, the different layers of blue are worn down gradually, top down, when the fabric is frayed.
Founded in 1992, Pimkie is an apparel manufacturer and exporter based in Bangladesh, whose factory has been ranked one of the most modern in the country. Its 1,500 employees work in platinum- and gold-level, LEED-certified factories (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to produce woven tops and bottoms – particularly denim. In fact, its skilled workforce produces 2.8 million denim pieces each month. They are putting their denim expertise to work for ARKET, producing jeans with a more sustainable wash.
PRE-WASHED DENIM – Wash jeans inside out, either by hand or in the
washing machine in cold water and on a gentle cycle. Take them out of
the machine as soon as possible after the programme has ended to avoid
creasing. Hang to dry.
RAW DENIM – One of the distinctions of raw denim is the high-contrast wear patterns that appear around zones like your knees, lap and pockets. They make raw denim very personal and are unique to your body. If you want these patterns to develop you will need to wear your jeans for a period before their first wash and wash them infrequently after that. If you prefer less contrast and an even fade throughout the fabric, wash your jeans more often.
Turn the jeans inside out and hand wash in cold water with a mild detergent to retain as much indigo as possible. You can also wash the jeans in a machine on a gentle cycle but be sure to wash them alone or with similar colours, as the indigo dye will bleed. Do not tumble dry. Hang to dry – and put an old towel under the jeans to catch any dye that drips.
Be careful when wearing new raw denim as the dye may transfer to light-coloured surfaces, such as shirts, underwear, canvas trainers and furniture.