This was actually the most challenging thing we've done to date and was only meant to be a very small project when we travelled all the way to India in the summer with finished ecru garments . We nodded to each other and smiled a sort of 'gosh, this is amazing, but crazy' sort of smile every step of the process and thought we'd done a good job.
The problem was, we had done such a nice job that when John Skelton and Xiaoxiao Xu from LNCC came to visit us they asked if they could have it to stock in LNCC - a season ahead of our planned wholesale launch. It was never meant to be a big run, but LNCC didn't even need to make a case for themselves. We discovered just a few weeks earlier that they had curated a 'conscious' collection on their site that sat as prominently as their main offering, making a real statement about one of our core drivers - sustainable clothing.
The collection is now live on their webstore, and it represents months of very, very hard work by everyone involved. I know, it seems like hyperbole - how can one white line be such a headache?
Because the line isn't painted - it's the part of the denim that's resisted the indigo dye, a little peep at the virgin fabric is achieved through an age-old indian 'wax resist technique' . The Japanese historically used a mix of rice bran and other ingredients to make a resist 'katazome' paste that works on the same principle (something we will be playing with in later seasons).
Wax is heated up (although, in the Indian sun it doesn't need much) until its almost a watery consistency. It's then painted (or stamped with a wooden block) directly onto our made garments. This is where we really made trouble for ourselves - the easy way would have been to do this on flat fabric then make the garments, but we wanted the line to go over the pocket and around the bottom of our jeans 'just so'.
The fabric we use, likely because its natural ecru and handloomed (from ORTA, an amazing Turkish mill who commissioned traditional hand weavers to make selvedge denim), readily absorbed the wax and made for a stiff stripe. The upshot is a clean finish that means even the inside of the garment shows the stripe (although less prominent). What's extra lovely about this is the visible strokes and splodges on the finished piece that reflect the human hand.
Once air dried, the full jacket is submerged in our natural indigo pits. We've gone on-and-on about these, but they're beautiful, calm pits that build up fabric to a deep dark blue using just plant dye (indigofera tinctoria) and some food for the fermentation.
Here's a pair of trousers dipped once in the vat. The colour is lovely but slightly uneven - our jackets and jeans need 6 full cycles of dipping.
Here's the Time Jacket after a final dip. It's a super-deep almost purple colour (because of the red impurities in our natural indigo) at this stage and still has wax intact. Once dry, the garment is boiled(!) allowing the wax to melt and float to the top where it's collected and re-used.
Once finished we attach the labels and they're ready to wear. One beautiful thing about the whole process is how the hue of the whole jacket changes over time. I've been wearing one on and off for six months, and the deep inky blue has softened to calmer shade, wearing down further over seams, folds and the pockets.
All in all it makes for a beautiful, simple effect that completely belies the amount of work that went in. It's an amazing success that we simply cannot ever repeat on this scale.