Natural Indigo Jeans
Originally, jeans were dyed with the color of the actual indigo plant. Today, indigo jeans are valued for their distinctive, deeply hued appearance. There are at least three companies making natural indigo jeans: Howies, Nudie Jeans and Studio D'Artisan (japanese only). Pictured here is a pair of women's indigo jeans from Nudie Jeans in Australia. Almost all blue jeans are chemically dyed these days. Unfortunately, chemical dyeing usually involves toxic fixing agents and heavy metals. Yet, even clothing produced with organically grown fibers using "low impact" dyes, requires the same toxic fixing agents. Here, "low impact" means the dye is absorbed better and chlorine is not used for bleaching (usually hydrogen peroxide is used).So what did people do before these processes were even available? Theyused plant-based dyes such as indigo and madder. Those natural dyestended to fade after repeated washings, but that was consideredappealing — each piece of clothing took on its own unique character bythe variations in color.
Natural indigo is perhaps the oldest dye known — the oldestfragments of cloth are dyed with it. It is a dye known to all culturesof the world. Natural indigo is also one of the "fastest" dyes known.It was the original dye of the "Levi's" blue jeans, a trademark colorfor durability.