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Behind The Scenes

Dip Into Tara St James’s Shibori Dyeing Technique

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.
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Study Sustainability

Spend five minutes with Tara St James, the designer behind Study, and you quickly learn two things: She’s Canadian, and she cares deeply about making clothes that are good for the planet. Ok, maybe three: Those clothes have to be awesome-looking, too. Here’s a peek at some of the directives she’s adopted to deliver her brand of eco magic. —jessie pascoeAn Indigo Handloom weaver. (Photo by Susan Bowlus.) “Study is made in NYC. If I can’t do it in NYC, then I will do it somewhere where there is a culture and history of doing that kind of production.” A dress for fall 2012 made of hand-woven cotton crafted by Indigo Handloom.“I found Indigo Handloom in India through Source4Style, a sourcing website for sustainable textiles that has been crucial to the development of my fall 2012 collection.”An alpaca sweater hand-knit in Peru paired with skirt made from Indigo Handloom cotton—both among Tara’s fall designs.“These knits for my fall 2012 collection are done by home-knitters in Peru. A friend of mine also works with these knitters, and she introduced me to them. The sustainable-design community is a lot more transparent than the traditional fashion community, and colleagues share good vendors in an effort to pool our resources and keep the small factories in business.”Tara’s very versatile four-way dress.“No-waste pattern-making is something I started doing with my first 2009 collection. The entire collection was done with zero waste, so it was all squares cut out of fabrics and then manipulated in a certain way. The first piece was really simple—I still produce that piece, called the four-way dress. Every time I give it out to stylists, they find a new way to put it on. People are a little apprehensive at first, but it has lasted five seasons. And I just keep on finding good fabrics for it.” Tara’s back with another edition tomorrow! Make sure you don’t miss out!
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