Indigo is a deep and rich colour close to the color wheel blue, as well as to some variants of ultramarine. It is traditionally regarded as one of the seven colours of the rainbow.
The colour indigo is named after the indigo dye derived from the plant Indigofera tinctoria and related species that are common in tropical climates. Cultivation is believed to have occurred as far back as 5,000 years, in present-day Pakistan and Northwest India. By the 1500’s, indigo’s unique process was brought to Europe along with other valued items. The continent was bewitched by the strange, almost magical dye process and it’s perceived “exotic” origins.
Indigo had a long complicated history as an exquisite commodity reserved only for the royalty. In fact, indigo cloth was priced at such high a value that it was referred to as “blue gold,” and in darker times, the fabric was even used as currency in the slave trade.
In India, indigo was important, not only for its commercial value but also because it was the only dye other than madder that stayed permanently on cotton without a mordent. It was thus very quickly manoeuvred by traditional hand-block-printers and other skilled artisans from the textile industry.
By the 19th century, as the demand for mass-production began to take hold of the fashion world, the indigo industry was unable to keep up and an alternative solution was then born: synthetic indigo. This synthetic version is actually the colour we are familiar with today, particularly if you own jeans from large manufacturers. The advent of this invention caused a steep decline for natural indigo, while the much cheaper synthetic dye became the norm for the fashion and textile industries.
There has been a very recent resurgence in appreciation for the natural version in contemporary fashion, particularly with Ikat, Khadi and other traditional handmade textiles allowing for individuality and quality to be valued over mass production. The idea of such a beautiful and special natural dye is certainly appealing amongst eco-friendly earth-conscious designers and consumers, and so it is for Kozii’s team and its costumers :)