Collection Winter 2022

二〇二二 ふゆ

Afterword

In our Summer 2022 collection, we launched a new series called “Ai Artisans Iroiro 45.” Indigo is 45R’s soul color. Japanese indigo is called ai, and at 45R we use the word “Ai” for indigo derived entirely from natural sources. We have devised and dyed with many original indigo recipes over the years, but always assumed that creating original shades of Ai would be slightly beyond us, since it would require starting in the fields where the indigo plants grow.
We draw a great deal of inspiration from vintage European clothes, but the indigoes of Europe are different from the Ai of Japan, with the former leaning toward green and the latter purple. We experimented with different preparation procedures and carefully scrutinized yarn colors in an attempt to get the shade of Ai we like best, but the goal remained a difficult one to reach.
Last year, a photographer friend introduced me to an aizome (indigo dyeing) artisan in his forties. He lives in Tokushima, growing his own ai plants and preparing his own dye. In him we found a kindred spirit, and our meetings eventually culminated in an agreement to create original Ai dyes exclusively for use by 45R.
By making the shades of Ai we want and using them to dye our yarn, we have hugely expanded and diversified our Ai clothing range, which was formerly relatively limited. We also took this opportunity to create new shapes and designs inspired by traditional Japanese garments?sashiko hanten jackets, noragi farm wear?but infused with an unmistakably 45R sensibility.
Japan has been called the “land of indigo,” but both aizome artisans and indigo fields continue to dwindle in number. The art of aizome is in a precarious position, and?to be frank?upon beginning this project our main feeling was relief that we were not too late. If this series helped spark an aizome renaissance, both in Japan and overseas, where the art is in even worse shape, we would be delighted. This is the source of the “Iroiro” in the series’ name, iroiro being Japanese for “various” and a word originally derived from “many colors.” I believe that both 45R and I will look back on this project as part of our life’s work.
Shinji Takahashi