When I met Abou in 2009, I was so impressed by his work that I had tears of excitement while speaking to him. The natural dyeing world is very small and we have many friends in common, so we have remained good friends ever since… and I feel tremendous joy to see his work featured on the NY Times.
I started on my indigo path in 1999 through my teacher Toofan Rafai in Ahmedabad, India, and soon after I developed a collection through my friend Jesus Ciriza, founder of The Colours of Nature, that was presented at Biofach, in Germany.
Once I started teaching ethical fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2010, I started by sharing my experience with natural dyes and showing the students the indigo dyed samples along with an indigo block, that is processed to start the vats in India…
Indigo is the oldest dye known to man and the Indigofera plant is a large genus of over 800 species, with more than 600 species in Africa alone. The Indigo dye is the only dye that does not require mordants, the mordant is a substance required to treat the textile (such as: salt, alum, vinegar, ammonia from stale urine, etc). Indigo will always remain at the surface of the fibre and doesn’t have the capacity to penetrate it. That’s why jeans develop whiskers, and have a unique “personalized look”.
Unfortunatelly natural dyes will never become mainstream, we simply don’t have the land or water capacity to fulfill our current needs. In addition naturally dyed clothing requires higher maintenance… so, in my opinion, this will remain a niche product that is understood by few. Basically it’s a small counter-culture.
On view through August at the Atelier Courbet gallery at 175-177 Mott Street, NY
NY TIMES ARTICLE