Indigo: Into the blue

For thousands of years, the colour blue has been revered and sought-after for its ethereal connotations. The Virgin Mary was depicted in it, Royal families appropriated it, Yves Klein patented it and Pablo Picasso spent the three years between 1901 and 1904 painting exclusively with it.

While there are many pigments and derivations of blue, the one the fashion industry uses more than any other is indigo. The hue, akin to something like a Smurf with a tan, sits between blue and violet in the spectrum - rich, vibrant, intoxicating. It’s a blue so dense, it looks like it might glow in the dark. The colour comes from indigotin, a dye derived from the glucoside indican found in about 50 related plants, mostly in the leaves. The most coveted of these is the Indigofera tinctoria, native to India. Ever since the 1880s however, when the German chemist Adolf von Baeyer discovered how to synthesise it, the fashion industry has used a chemical derivative of the original. If you've ever owned a pair of jeans, then you've worn indigo.

What we love about indigo dye is the depth of blue it produces, not only on cotton, but also silk, wool and linen. Because the indigo binds to the exterior of the fibres, any excess will invariably fade over time, giving you those unique patinas of wear (and the thankless task of trying to remove it from anything white that you sat on). That it ages so well is the perfect attribute for Oliver Spencer, since we aim to make menswear that is timeless. The more you wear our indigo pieces, the better they look and the more personalised they become.

While we’re most familiar with indigo in the form of denim, at Oliver Spencer this season we’ve used it in a number of different cotton garments (and in multiple concentrations of hue too). Naturally, it also contrasts brilliantly with white (just make sure you've washed it enough times to avoid the dye bleeding into your white trousers), but also with other tonal blues, from cornflower to navy. If you’ve never considered it outside of denim, perhaps now is the time to expand upon your blue palette?


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