IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia
IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia

Feel the new wave

I heard from one person who knows well about the dye industry that Hermes of France got the patent of the natural dye color at the end of last year. It was very shocking news for me. I have been thinking Hermes is higher in grade and much different from the other many world-wide famous fashion brands. I was so surprised of Hermes news.

But it is a kind of strange news because the natural dyeing stuffs and the vegetate dyeing technology have been existing for hundreds or thousands years. Since the chemical dyeing technique was invented about 150 years ago and spread all over the world, as a result of it, the thousands years traditional knowledge disappeared from people's memories so easily. In the period of putting priority on promotion of streamlining present day, chemical dyestuffs were magic powder compared to natural dyestuffs that people could dye so fast and easily like an instant foods.

But ecologically there are a lot of harmful agents for human being and nature like synthetic chemical dyestuffs made by oil and heavy metal ion mordant including chrome and cadmium and so on, and fluorescent dyestuff that may harmful influence to human body.

I do not know the details of the Hermes patent but I think it is somehow related to print dyeing technology called as a productive screen printing. The technology has existed through the ages and it is common to stencil dyeing represented by the Edo Komon pattern in Japan. This print technology using same natural dyestuffs one similar seen in the dyeing technology of block printing in India and Indonesia. But almost all of them were taken place by chemical dyeing so the traditional natural block dyeing technology disappeared. Hermes patent might become revival of colorful print technology in the modern period.

In my mind of the Hermes image is that Hermes takes over the tradition of old times European paintings. Hermes has its very originality but its basement has the sense of beauty of European paintings from the middle age to modern age. It is just like a traditional painting and such beauty of Oukyo's Maruyama group and Rinpa at Edo period affected Japanese fantastic Kimono world.

For years I have been aspiring for the renaissance of the new dyeing textile arriving. I surely think the new wave will start from the new fashion world of Hermes natural dyestuffs. It could be said that the really new period arrives if Hermes uses the natural dyestuffs printing in their new fashion. And of course the other fashion makers also put their developing power will follow Hermes. And the movement will become one of the fashion trends after several years.

So far natural dye colors only existed in the limited merchandise world. It means things will be changing. I imagine that people will wear the natural dye clothes as usual clothes after five or ten years from now.

I feel that people's thinking of the dye color of the natural dyestuffs is only the past traditional technology will change their position. The natural dyestuffs are ecologically good for human body and environment. Actually almost all of the natural dyestuffs have been used as traditional medical materials.

On the other hand, there is wrong general knowledge that the natural dyestuffs easily lose color. But it is wrong. In the 7th century Shosoin's treasury textiles are still bright beautiful even now. And in the 3rd century Egyptian Copt textiles are also still beautiful now.

"The natural dyestuffs easily lose color" has been whispered to hide today's rapid dyeing textiles approach. But it is wrong. It just means that rush dyeing color equals to rush running down the color.

The other day I got a mail of invitation about autumn symposium of the United States Textile Society Textile Society of America. The theme is the natural dye. The natural dye is coming as the real new wave. Additionally the visitors who are interested in natural dye are coming to IKTT's PWF from Europe and United States.

Our basic information of natural dye is opened to everybody. IKTT has progressed at least 10 years ahead of world trend of the times. I also want to progress it further in the future.

Morimoto, Kikuo

update : April 1, 2010 2:24 PM

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