• Why are your textiles priced higher than some other handmade/indigo dyed products?
There are three main reasons that differentiate our work from that of cheaper textile studios and consequently result in a higher production cost.
The first reason is pattern complexity. Many of our textiles are created using a laborious and time consuming process called stitch resist or "shibori". To create shibori patterns we first draw the template of the design onto the plain undyed fabric using a temporary marker. Then the fabric must be stitched entirely by hand at various intervals. These stitching threads are then pulled to compress the piece which is then dyed at our studio. The special characteristic of this method is that it results in dynamic designs with a distinctly soft blurred edge pattern. Some designs can have hundreds of stitching threads and require an entire week of work just to prepare a 2 meter scarf for dyeing. More info can be found on our process page.
The shibori technique has seen increased popularity and revival in the last decade with many textile studios entering the market and offering fabrics that utilize faster and easier tie-dye methods. While many of those designs are beautiful we feel a passionate desire to highlight the incredible artistry and innovation achieved by the textile master craftsmen of the past. With our work we strive to honor the many great craftsmen who dedicated their entire lives to this art and who had the kindness of heart to pass on some of their knowledge down to us in Japan.
The second reason is fabric quality. Since the designs require immense time to execute it only makes sense to use premium quality fabrics. Our silk, linen, handwoven cotton and hemp fabrics are all carefully chosen from suppliers who we've known for many years. Once at our studio these fabrics are specially pre-treated to remove impurities from the fibers by a process involving gentle simmering and washing. If this step is skipped then the dyes are absorbed unevenly and can even rub off completely or come out in the wash.
For dyeing with natural dyes we also pre-treat the fabric with alum acetate (also known as mordanting) which greatly improves the dyes to be more vibrant, colorfast and washfast. Many textile studios will skip these crucial preparatory steps as they take time and effort.
The third reason is fair working conditions for our staff. Unlike many other Asian textile producers we never pay our staff by the piece, appreciating that rushing our work is impossible. Instead we choose to employ our in-house team on a full-time basis, enroll them in health and welfare schemes and provide them with a clean, comfortable, safe, well ventilated and well lit environment.
Not only is this the most sensible and humane way to make beautiful objects - it's also one that helps to encourage new generations to take up artisanal professions. The sad truth is that although the master craftsmen who we've met were immensely proud of their work unfortunately the vast majority admit they would not want their children to follow in their footsteps. Instead their hope for their children is a more dignified life in the city, preferably in an office. This situation is undoubtedly due to economic factors and is the single biggest reason why the incredible heritage of crafts is quickly disappearing. By paying our staff fairly and treating them with the respect that they deserve we hope to inspire a reversal of this trend along with new generations who will see a viable future in this craft.
Our greatest privilege has been to work with customers, clients and friends who recognize that quality, dignified working conditions and a hope for the future of craftsmanship come at a price.
Together these three reasons shape the core principles of our brand along with each and every piece that we work on.