Paint me Indigo

Indigo is a unique color which has come to dominate the world. Their biggest triumph being that indigo is the default color that every major denim maker uses for their selvedge jeans. As indigo’s popularity has grown over the centuries designers and artisans alike have expanded Indigo’s focus. From not just jeans, but to other clothing apparel. Such as jackets, shirts, belts, shoes, backpacks, and other such accessories. Many brands have treated Indigo as a new unexplored territory for clothing. To this end we will cover various offerings of indigo t shirts, as well as what make each brand’s own version of their indigo t-shirt unique.

Tender Co. (UK) $128


First off we have Tender Company’s Type 353 T-Shirt. Being a collective of artisans the brand tends to have more free form thinking in term of their designs. First off this shirt is constructed using interlocked jersey threads, providing added durability. The design of the shirt takes cues from vintage sportswear shirts, likely from the 1950s. Some standout designing is the shirt’s slightly wide neck design and flatlock seam construction. What makes the Type 353 truly unique is that Tender Co decided to hand dye their shirt with Woad instead of  using conventional Indigo dyes. Woad was the precursor to the use of Indigo blocks in Europe. The dye has to be extracted from many Woad planets, so much so that it isn’t made on a commercial level. Another aspect being that Woad typically yields a somewhat lighter shade of Indigo. Woad usually doesn’t dye evenly, which introduces another element to the garment dyed, being a more unique fade pattern. Based in England, the company fashions their clothing there with various artisans.

Merz B. Schwanen (Germany) $100

Based in Germany Merz B. Schawnen has taken it upon themselves to recreate vintage clothing from the first half of the 20th century. Many of their clothing is based on either work or basic military attire of their respective time periods.  This particular shirt, the 215, is based off a 1960s tee shirt design. What makes this shirt interesting is that it features under arm gussets, which gives the shirt the ability to better conform to your body. Furthermore the shirt is made using two threads instead of one. This makes the shirt more durable, as well as making it feeling a bit more heavy duty. The shirt was hand dyed using natural Indigo. Like Woad, natural Indigo is not produced on a commercial scale, but can nonetheless be made. Likewise the shirts will eventually develop a unique fade pattern. Indigo comes from a fern and is typically dried out then formed into a brick. Throw it into a hot vat, then you’re in business, the dying process is long. Merz makes their clothing in Germany with old school machines from the 1920s, giving their clothes a more authentic background.

Ludwig Van (LA) $36

Finally we have Ludwig Van of Los Angeles California. Their Caligula tee is made using ringspun 30-single threads, making their shirt very soft and strong. Adding another element the brand employed jersey slub instead of the run of the mill jersey cotton fabric. The weave of Caligula gives the shirt a mix of both soft with an added bit of feeling. As the shirt runs across your body it gives off a little sensation that may feel soothing. Likewise in the summer the shirts weave allows for a nice air current to give off  a sense of relaxation. A wider neck provokes a more laid back demeanor. The owner of the brand hand printed the text, adding a personal touch to the Caligula. Like the other shirts, the Caligula also went through an Indigo dying process, though the process is not stated. They possibly used a block of Indigo. Ludwig Van gave the shirt a wash in order to give their tee a vintage feel, as they often use vintage materials for their clothing. The shirt should develop a nice fade pattern, partially due to the jersey slub fabric. Many of their products have been made in LA.

So whether its through an artisan or streetwear brand, Indigo has certainly expanded its horizons. Each brand’s takes on the Indigo tee shirt, which is becoming a phenomenon, is wholly done with a particular thinking process you won’t find at your local mall. Needless to say, there are many options that people have when looking to buy an Indigo shirt. The dyes alone could be the deciding factor for a lover of Indigo, or the design of the shirt, or even the fabric that was used; that may ultimately convince a person that an Indigo tee shirt is worth buying, or even an essential garment for their own style.

*Some of these shirts may no longer be available for purchase, as these brands usually don’t re-release products

*Tender Company site.

*Merz B. Schawnen site.

*Ludwig Van site.


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