A Full Article From The Last Avant Magazine
The latest issue of Avant magazine by Eric Maggiori is recently released. It’s the 3rd edition of the very successful self-published range. This week Eric shared that the first two editions completely sold-out, but both issues can be pre-ordered again, in case you have missed them.
The third issue of Avant is about: An Anthology of French Workwear. You could already get a glimpse of it in the previous article here, but now Eric shares a full article from this issue titled: ‘Indigo linen, the king of fabric’. Enjoy!
Indigo Linen, The King Of Fabric
France is a land of fabric. But one fabric specifically interests workwear collectors: indigo linen. Whether a French jacket or trousers, if it is made of indigo linen, the price increases sharply. But why has it become so attractive?
If you survey French workwear specialists in Japan and ask them what their favorite French fabric is, they will all have the same answer. “My favorite French item? Any workwear garment made of indigo linen”, says Yuu Tokushima, founder of Encore Boutique. “To me, no matter what the age or whether or not it’s deadstock, indigo linen is the most beautiful material in the world.” Yokomi Hiroshi, who runs Mindbenders&Classics, says the same: “I love indigo and linen items. Old linen is a very smooth and soft fabric. Naturally dyed indigo and pastel are very beautiful as well. Japanese love it.” Yoji Nemoto, founder of Foremost Vintage, fully agrees: “My favorite French item? Indigo linen and black linen jackets.” There is no debate: be it a jacket, a pair of trousers, a shirt, or a jumpsuit; indigo linen items earn all the top votes. But why? What makes this fabric so special?
What Is Linen?
First of all, let’s recall what linen is. It is a vegetal fiber located within the plant stem. The stem needs to soak so that the fiber can be extracted (retting), the next step is separating the usable fibers from the woody parts (scutching). Flax fiber is protected within the stem, and this is what gives it some robustness, among other things. For several centuries, France has been famous for the quality of its linen.
Dyed With Indigo
Regarding naturally dyed indigo, it is an ancestral technique, which has been used for thousands of years (like in Egypt and South America). “Linen is a wonderful fabric, not to mention indigo, which is an extraordinary color,” says Tom Gruat, a retailer of ancient working-class garments. “People are specifically looking for the combination of these two characteristics.” French linen has been dyed with indigo (and with other colors as well) as early as the 19th century in order to be used to manufacture working garments. It had all of the right qualities: light, soft, strong, not easily stained. As an added bonus, when dyed with indigo, an item patinas beautifully over time.
The value of indigo linen has really skyrocketed since Japanese buyers began showing interest in French workwear. Japanese connoisseurs tend to create markets and set prices, especially for vintage, and since indigo linen items are as beautiful as they are hard to find, they have become the “rare French workwear item”. “Of course, collectors are fascinated by other items as well, like US indigo calico and ‘Wabash’ indigo cotton fabrics, even if they are not made of the same material,” says Tom Gruat. “Yet, thanks to its specific characteristics, French linen brings something more to our home-grown garments.” With this little something extra, linen has now become the king of ancient French workwear.
Get your copy of Avant magazine here: www.theavantmag.com