Posted on Leave a comment

Natural Indigo Fermentation Vat ( Parts 1 – 3 )

Local Beginnings.

After Indigo dying for some months now and excessive night-time reading, you realise there are many ways to naturally transfer the magical indigo onto fabric. Here in Vietnam it seems only right to go by traditional methods, hence today marks the birth of our fermentation vat. 

After following what instructions we can decipher, now begins the waiting process, exercising new found patience until the bacteria within the vat are quite active enough for the first blue dye. It could likely be a week. 

With much deliberation we decided not just to keep our ingredients locally sourced in Vietnam, but also make it part of our brand ethos.

So stage one is complete – The vat is alive! It just needed nourishment so on the motorbike and down the road we go, to get it’s lunch. 

The fermentor – The Rice Wine Maker – “His hands excitedly dipped the glass into his deep wine vat, and quickly offered me the clear liquid to sample. There’s no knowing how effective the ingredient is, but after a swig and acknowledgement of the high content of alcohol still enjoying fermentation, we now have enough local rice wine to feed our vat and myself” Tom tells Lilly over-excitedly.

We wouldn’t have achieved any of what we are doing without the kindness of our suppliers and advisors. We are forever grateful to understanding friends and their support. 

Kimono-Oi is documenting every aspect of the dye process, from PH indicator tests, through all the errors, learning and breakthrough moments in Indigo dying. Look forward to sharing more with you soon. 

Follow on Facebook, Instagram for updates. 


( Part 2) A deeper shade of blue

“Blue, blue indigo blue.”

Indigo is as old as civilisation, the cultivated green leaf that can give us ‘True Blue’. This magical process requires oxygen and it’s more remarkable than you’d think. When the fabric is removed from the vat, at first it is yellow until the oxygen in our air turns it into the colour of oceans, of sky. 

Test dying is now producing some nice deep blues. Each step in colour shows another dip in the vat. Achieving a deep blue can take many submersions..

Vat Maintenance Diary

  • I took daily records checking the PH level was at a high alkaline reading.
  • I fed the vat daily
  • I kept it as warm as I could, a challenge in rainy season. Luckily Saigon temperature rarely drops below 30. All in all, I have to listen to the vat and can’t neglect it for too long. I must be patient. Like True Blue, I am unwavering in my commitment and extremely loyal to my duty.

Next week…. we dye.

( Part 3 ) We’ve only got eyes for blue.

The wait is almost over. Kimono Oi are days away from revealing the first garments. It’s been really hard keeping it all under wraps.

We dye in the Vietnamese tradition. Each piece of fabric must be submerged multiple times to achieve a deep blue. As many as 20 times. It may all seem time consuming and it is, but the results speak for itself. A beautiful natural finish is achieved, that will age gracefully over time.

Dyeing in this manner is sustainable and natural. Everything we use is sourced in Vietnam and it gives us great pleasure to keep everything local too.

Leave a Reply