Two stories today about textile and tradition, the first more in keeping with our norm, but both heavy on the blues:
There are some traditions that are universal. Here, we highlight a single craft — and how it’s being adapted, rethought and remade for the 21st century.
KANJI HAMA, 69, has quietly dedicated his life to maintaining the traditional Japanese craft of katazome: stencil-printed indigo-dyed kimonos made according to the manner and style of the Edo period. He works alone seven days a week from his home in Matsumoto, Nagano, keeping indigo fermentation vats brewing in his backyard and cutting highly detailed patterns into handmade paper hardened with persimmon tannins to create designs for a craft for which there is virtually no market. Nearly identical-looking garments can be had for a pittance at any souvenir store.
Indigo is one of a handful of blue dyes found in nature, and it’s surprising that it was ever discovered at all, as the plants that yield it reveal no hint of the secret they hold…
The story from Japan is about maintaining traditional craft and the story about flannel is about industrial renaissance.
I am not partial to either story. They make fascinating bookends:
Told that the cozy shirting fabric could no longer be made in America, one man began a yearlong quest.
Three years ago, Bayard Winthrop, the chief executive and founder of the clothing brand American Giant, started thinking about a flannel shirt he wore as a kid in the 1970s. It was blue plaid and bought for him by his grandmother, probably at Caldor, a discount department store popular in the northeast back then. The flannel was one of the first pieces of clothing Mr. Winthrop owned that suggested a personality.
“I thought it looked great,” he said, “and I thought it said something about me. That I was cool and physical and capable and outdoorsy.”…