Product Introspection: Mud dye



Unevenness allows for each wearer's personality to be reflected, a subtle depth of character to be felt. I wanted to imbue modern products with these qualities that natural dyes possess, and have experimented in a variety of ways to further this aim.

From a mud and indigo hybrid dyeing technique to dorozuke, a "mud application" technique where the mud used in mud dyeing is applied to the surface of a garment to give it additional depth...I believe there are still so many possibilities with natural dye. We want to utilize traditional techniques, while at the same time using different materials and processes to create something fresh and new. We will continue engaging in these interesting experiments hand-in-hand with like-minded artisans.

Mud dye

Dorozome, or mud dyeing, is a 1,300 year old technique from Amami Oshima that is used to produce the unique black color of the traditional Japanese silk garment, Oshima Tsumugi. A flowering plant known in Japan as sharinbai (Rhaphiolepis umbellata) is boiled down in a large vat for two days in order to create a liquid extract. A piece of fabric is then dipped repeatedly in this extract, and afterwards immersed in mud.

This causes a chemical reaction between the acid pigment in the sharinbai extract and the iron in the mud, which gives birth to a deep, uniquely lustrous black dye. Mud-dyed garments are soft and pliant but hold their shape, and are also resistant to fire and dirt.
Unfortunately, these unique dyeing techniques, along with the production of traditional Japanese garments, are becoming increasingly obsolete due to changes in modern lifestyles, with entire traditional production industries facing extinction.