Collection Winter 2023


We began our Ai Indigo Shokunin Iroiro 45 project out of a desire to become more deeply involved in the aizome (indigo dyeing) process, taking an active role not just in the dyeing itself but also in preparing the fields and fermenting the indigo to make the dye. The project has now been running for a year, and when I think back on those early trial-and-error days, I realize that it has easily surpassed our expectations in terms of both impact and achievements. Above all, I see a new brightness in the faces of the indigo specialists who identify with our goals and work alongside us. They stepped forward, rejecting self-imposed seclusion within the confines of “traditional crafts,” because they believe in the future of aizome as an industry. The number of younger and female members in this group is particularly notable, and I now harbor hopes of building a new “growing district” for indigo together with them.

Starting from field preparation means learning a great deal about the systems and structures around Japanese agriculture. My overall impression after learning these things was that relying on subsidies forever is not sustainable and would not bring a brighter future. Perhaps the same is true of traditional crafts.
When we began talking to aizome professionals a year ago, I was surprised to find that they all spoke about aizome as if it were restricted to a certain definition or framework. To be frank, I found this stifling, and 45R has a long history of casting such frameworks aside. I hope that Ai Indigo Shokunin Iroiro 45 helps bring more freedom and openness to aizome as well.

For both clothes and accessories, I have come to feel that aizome has in the past been too closely associated with traditional Japanese sensibilities, distancing it from contemporary life. With Ai Indigo Shokunin Iroiro 45, we too are inspired by vintage noragi workwear and other aizome garments, but we shape that inspiration into clothes in a truly 45R-ish style. There are also aizome pieces in Pâte à chou, our collection based on designer Yasumi Inoue’s sensibilities and individuality). Japan and the West, casual and elegant—fusion has been a constant theme for 45R. I hope that applying this approach to aizome can help this vital culture find a broader audience and thrive well into the future.
Shinji Takahashi