A variety of plants have provided indigo throughout history, but most natural indigo was obtained from those in the genus Indigofera, which are native to the tropics.
In Japan, indigo became especially important in the Edo period, when it was forbidden to use silk, so the Japanese began to import and plant cotton. It was difficult to dye the cotton fibre except with indigo. Even today indigo is very much appreciated as a colour for the summer Kimono Yukata, as this traditional clothing recalls nature and the blue of the sea.
In the late 19th century the synthesis of indigo became commercially viable and the production of synthetic indigo resulted in a sharp decline in the use of natural indigo. In the manufacture of jeans, the use of natural indigo dyed denim is fairly unusual, and often very expensive.
We produce a 17oz rope dyed, natural indigo, organic cotton selvedge denim. This denim holds onto to its indigo with extreme stubbornness, with hardly any loss of colour for months, then one day the dye decides to give up the battle and pretty quick fading happens from then on.