Dyeing with Nature

Natural dyes using tree bark, flowers, seeds, roots, and grass were used until the Meiji Era (1868–1912), when synthetic dyes, invented in 1856, widely replaced them. One of the first synthetic dyes, mauvine, was discovered serendipitously by William Henry Perkin while he was attempting to synthesize the phytochemical quinine to treat malaria.

To dye our garments, we have returned to using the natural dyes that have been in use for centuries. This technique of achieving colour is the same that craftspeople used to create the Yuzen kimono, which was first made in the Heian Era (791–1192) and was known for its vivid hand-painted designs. The maker achieved the colour by building it up layer-by-layer using stencils and a coating of starch known as nori.

We have used natural dyes in our manufacturing process as an act of shunning mass-produced chemical dyes. To create the hues, we have used plant leaves, stems, roots, and fruit, boiling them in water then soaking the textile in liquid that is created. This act creates not only a vivid colour but also a garment that evolves with time.