Learn About Natural and Synthetic Indigo and the Differences Between Rope Dyeing and Slasher Dyeing
Indigo is the blue in blue jeans. The dyestuff has been popular around the world for several millennia. It’s been the colour of royals, which made it desirable to the proletariat. It’s one of the most colourfast natural dyes. And it remains beautiful as it fades to a myriad of bright, blue hues.
While most other colours become dull with wash and wear, this is when indigo truly comes to life. This is without a doubt the most important reason why we continue to wear indigo-dyed garments today. With denim jeans being the most popular indigo-dyed garment, my five-episode series about how denim is made naturally discusses indigo dyeing.
I’m approaching denim’s production process chronologically in this series. In the first episode, I discuss cotton and its benefits. In the second episode, I uncover how the cotton is spun into yarn. In this episode, I explore indigo dyeing. I outline indigo’s history; I discuss natural and synthetic indigo, and I explain the two indigo dyeing techniques that are primarily used for denim production, rope dyeing and slasher dyeing.
The five production stages of denim that the series discusses:
What Is Indigo?
The indigo colour originates from India. The name ‘indigo’ comes from the Greek word ‘indikón’—which became ‘indicum’ in Latin—and the original meaning was simply “a substance from India.”
Archaeologists have traced the use of indigo back 5,000 years, which makes it one of the oldest dyestuffs still in use today. The oldest preserved indigo-dyed textile fragments in existence were unearthed in pyramids built during Ancient Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty. That means they’re as much as 4,500 years old.
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