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Dip Into Tara St James’s Shibori Dyeing Technique

Forget tie-dye: The Study designer is all about this ancient Japanese method.

No surprise here: Tara St James, one of sustainability’s coolest designers, is super into shibori, a time-tested Japanese dyeing style that’s been getting a lot of love in the fashion world lately. She rarely has the time to apply the technique, but for her first Of a Kind edition, something extra-special was in order. Behold: a look at all the pleats and folds that went into Study’s exclusive tee. —jessie pascoe

“The Of a Kind shirt is our classic T-shirt body. It is a classic, one-pocket, boxy T-shirt that we have done for a couple of seasons now, but this one we are hand-dying with a special process called shibori.”

“There are hundreds and hundreds of different shibori techniques—the one I am doing is fairly simplistic and appropriate for this project. It is just a question of folding and pleating the garment a certain way before you dye it.”

“Shibori is almost like a resist dye, where you are only dying part of the garment.”

“When I was visiting Japan several years ago, I went into a vintage kimono shop and saw some of the indigo-dyed cotton kimonos with shibori dye patterns. They blew my mind!  I bought a how-to book and have been testing the technique ever since. “

“Because it’s a black dye, we are unable to use vegetable or plant dyes, as black is nearly impossible to achieve naturally. So we used a low-impact fiber-reactive dye.”

“The technique is difficult to incorporate into the regular collection because it’s so labor-intensive, but I try when I can.”

“The T-shirt is 100-percent cotton, and the dye has been set so the T-shirt can be machine-washed in cold water—with eco-friendly detergents, preferably.”

Tara is back with another edition! You don’t wanna miss it.