Japan Blue

Indigo is a dye extracted from a plant. As Jeans may be a synonym for indigo, it was once used to dye fabric all over the world, not only in Japan. You may think most of the jeans are still dyed in indigo blue. Nowadays, in most cases, it’s an artificial dye because natural indigo is difficult to handle. It requires a delicate adjustment according to the day’s temperature, moisture, etc. In exchange for the difficulty, it provides more beautiful and deeper coloring.

Japan blue. Some of you may have heard this color name because it’s the signature color of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Having studied the origin of the name, I’ve learned it is Robert William Atkinson, a British chemist who named it. He was invited to Japan by the Japanese Government in 1875, and wrote in his book he had seen so many people wearing in indigo blue across Japan. Indeed, ordinary people’s outfits of the time were commonly dyed with indigo due to its antibacterial characteristics required especially for work clothes. The proportion of farmers at that time is said to be about 85%. I assume Japan would look like being wholly dyed in indigo blue to him.

Jeans are originated in the US and have spread throughout the world. Even now, the US market is biggest, and the Japanese market is less than one eighth of it. To tell the truth, I’m not interested in jeans at all, and didn’t know that Japanese jeans were popular internationally for its high quality, in spite of such a small market size. Most of Japanese jeans makers still use natural indigo to dye their denim. Our Singaporean dealer has insisted we should collaborate with a Japanese jeans maker, saying there will be a synergy effect because we have a common root: Japanese craftsmanship. I gave it a try and asked some Japanese jeans makers. Surprisingly enough, one of the most popular makers accepted the offer. It’s “Japan Blue.” Now, you can order our furniture upholstered with Japan blue denim by a Japanese top jeans maker. It’s denim developed for furniture, and you don’t need to worry about fading. There’s no reason not to buy it!

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.

Photo Credit: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/sep/24/jean-genius-how-kojima-became-japans-denim-mecca

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