A Lesson in Indigo: A Special Archives Visit

Levi Strauss & Co.
April 9, 2018

As an industry leader in all things denim, we are often approached by some of the best in the business to talk shop.

So, when BUAISOU, a Japanese company that specializes in the harvesting of indigo, asked to stop by our headquarters for a visit to our Archives and offered to walk us through their process, we welcomed the team.

BUAISOU was founded in 2012 by two Japanese indigo farmers and dyers – Kenta Watanabe and Kakuo Kaji – in Tokushima, Japan, which is renowned for its indigo leaf farming. Those leaves are fermented and turned into “sukumo,” which is used for dyeing. BUAISOU uses this technique to create “hell vats” of indigo that produces a color they refer to as “Japan Blue” – a process they strive to keep alive today.

“It was inspiring to see BUAISOU’s mastery of craft in indigo sukumo dyeing,” said Una Murphy, senior designer with the Levi’s brand. “Their artisanal approach to growing, farming and fermenting their own indigo allows them to experience their product from soil to garment. They describe their process elegantly and it’s clear they are deeply in touch with every aspect of what they do.”

Natural indigo has a unique color and cast and was used to dye some of our earliest overalls.

Kakuo, a long-time fan of Levi’s® jeans, took the time to walk members of the Levi’s® design team through their dyeing process with a demonstration using a vat filled with sukumo.

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