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Origami cranes are folded using the same procedure, but depending on the person turns out to have different shapes and textures, the same can be said for crafts where one is able to get a glimpse of the creator. In a small factory in Ichinomiya City of Aichi Prefecture, the dyeing process is called origami dyeing, named after the traditional Japanese game. As the name suggests, craftsmen hand-fold the knit and are dyed one by one, creating a powerful yet gentle and playful pattern.

Dyeing applied to knitwear for this collection started by creating paper models shown to craftsmen of pullovers, skirts, and scarves to be origami-dyed. Origami dyeing, developed by the factory, is based on chusen (resist-dying) technique, used since ancient times for kimonos and tenugui. One of most important steps for the dyeing process, as the name suggests, is the method and order of folding, in which the knit is folded like a large piece of origami.

Knits carefully folded using steam are then gently transported to the dyeing machine by two craftsmen. Dye travels over 100 tubes, and fills the mold that serves as the vessel. Then, the dye is sucked out from under the knit using an enormous vacuum pump. Dye passes through fibres at high speed by suction, creating an ordinary, yet organic pattern inspired by boldly woven bamboo baskets.

This is followed by steaming the fold in a pot, where the excess dye is removed by washing, creating a clear, unclouded colour of patterns.

The craftsman responsible for dyeing comes with a unique background, having studied painting in London would then dive into the world of dyeing from Yuzen in Nagoya, having over 20 years of experience.

‘There are very few designers who bring their designs filled to this level. During the process, my personal contribution may be limited, but as a craftsman, it is satisfying and an honour to create something beautiful. Demands for modern dyeing is to be able to maintain the colour and condition of the product for a long time. However, just like the kimonos I used to make, even carefully dyed items lose their colour and fade when washed. It’s meaningful to be able to share the feeling of seeing fades and losing of colour as a beautiful design created by time, and to be able to see what we created together shared across the world. It’s not a bad job.’

Photography Elena Tutatchikova / Words: Mikiya Matsushita (kontakt) / Edit: Runa Anzai (kontakt)