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Menswear Designers Are in the Mood for Indigo

ONE YEAR AGO, Ariel and Shimon Ovadia, the twin brothers behind New York-based menswear label Ovadia & Sons, retailed an oxford shirt whose top half was pure white and whose bottom was tie-dyed with indigo. This prep-school surfer piece was a hit, and so the brothers revisited indigo in a bigger way in their latest spring collection.

The Ovadias are not alone. In the past few seasons, a number of fashion designers--and even some furniture designers--have caught indigo fever, using the dye to color everything from linen suits to sofas. Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Bastian and Christophe Lemaire all included indigo pieces in their recent collections. 'It's kind of hitting all the right buttons,' Mr. Bastian said. 'Anything that feels like jeans, guys are already in love with.'

The trend is a revival of a technique that dates back millennia. Indigo is one of civilization's original clothing dyes. It first appeared when residents of India's Indus Valley discovered that the leaves of indigo plants turned dark blue when dried and, as fermented pulp, clung attractively to garments. The Japanese took indigo-dyeing to new heights between the 17th and 19th centuries. With the rise of denim in the late 19th century, indigo became a uniform of sorts for workers around the world. It was around this time that synthetic indigo, better suited to mass production, replaced the natural dye. With the exception of expensive niche brands like 45RPM, most denim companies use synthetic indigo.

Still, the comeback of raw (or unwashed) denim has prepared men to enjoy the gradual, idiosyncratic fade of the natural original. The Ovadia brothers tapped into this quality of the natural dye to achieve a variety of shades of blue--shown to polished effect in a head-to-toe indigo look from their Spring '14 fashion week presentation: peacoat, sweater, shirt and pants. 'The color can be really rich and saturated for a polished look, or you can let it bleed away for more of a worn-in look,' Ariel said.

The bleeding doesn't stop at the point of purchase. 'How a garment fades and wears is a defining reason people get sentimental about their jeans,' said Miles Johnson, design director of Levi's XX, which makes the brand's vintage-inspired Made & Crafted line. 'Without realizing it, they fall in love.'

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Earlier this year, furniture designer Stephen Kenn teamed up with denim label Simon Miller on a natural-indigo collection that includes chairs and a sofa. They dye their fabrics in a design studio in Los Angeles. Most designers, however, seek theirs on every continent except North America. Japanese indigo has the most cachet, if only because hip local designers and the government there have preserved the once-glorious tradition as a point of national pride.

This was one motivation behind his natural-indigo leather blazer for spring, the designer Mihara Yasuhiro confirmed via email from Tokyo. Another, he added, was that 'only with this technique can you have the vividness of a deep indigo blue.'

Indigo's return is bound to have a widespread appeal. As Mr. Ovadia put it, 'I don't think there's a guy on the planet that doesn't have something blue in his closet.'

一年前,纽约男装品牌Ovadia & Sons背后的双胞胎兄弟埃里尔·奥瓦迪亚(ArielOvadia)和希蒙·奥瓦迪亚(Shimon Ovadia)推出了一款牛津布衬衫,上半截纯白,下半截用靛蓝扎染。这款预科生风格的冲浪衫卖得很火,于是两人在最新的春季系列中再次以更大的规模运用了靓蓝。

奥瓦迪亚兄弟不是孤例。在过去几季,一些时装设计师、甚至还有一些家具设计师也都热衷于靛蓝,从亚麻西装到沙发,各种各样的东西都使用这种颜色。汤米·希尔费格(Tommy Hilfiger)、迈克尔·巴斯蒂安(Michael Bastian)和克里斯托弗·勒梅尔(Christophe Lemaire)的近期系列都有靛蓝服饰。巴斯蒂安说:“像是戳中了全部要害。任何感觉像牛仔的东西,大家迫不及待地就喜欢上了。”



褪色过程不会在购买的时候就停止。李维斯(Levi's)旗下生产复古系列“Made & Crafted”的Levi's XX的设计总监迈尔斯·约翰逊(Miles Johnson)说:“人们之所以对牛仔服有如此丰富的情感,一个决定性因素在于它们逐渐褪色、破损的过程,人们会不知不觉地爱上它们。”

今年早些时候,家具设计师史蒂芬·肯(Stephen Kenn)与牛仔布品牌Simon Miller合作推出了一个包含椅子和沙发的天然靛蓝系列。他们在洛杉矶的一个设计工场给织物上色。但大多数设计师找遍每一个大洲,就是不在北美寻找靛蓝。日本靛蓝质量最好,无外乎是因为通晓时尚的日本设计师和日本政府将这个辉煌一时的传统当作民族的骄傲保留了下来。

设计师Mihara Yasuhiro在从东京发来的电子邮件中也认同了这一点,这是他为春季推出天然靛蓝皮夹克的动机之一。他说,另一个原因是“只有通过这项技艺,才能获得生动的深靛蓝色”。




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