Echappées Bleues is a series of hand towels developed in collaboration with designer Pauline Androlus from Androlus Studio in Paris.
Pauline spent six months creating prototypes and discussing ideas online, based on extensive research into traditional chusen dyeing techniques. The results of her fresh, new perspective on hand towels were released to considerable acclaim at the major industry trade fair Maison et Objet in Paris in 2022.
The four are entitled Crépuscule, Maintenant, Songe and Quiétude.
All four feature a base of kobai cotton, a distinctive fabric with a systematic grid weave that is commonly used for yukata robes.
The simple yet modernistic geometrically inspired pattern conveys a sense of peace and tranquillity.
Chusen dyeing offers an unparalleled depth of expression, featuring gradations of deep navy blue that transform the art of dyeing to a higher plane.
Opened out: 40 x 108 cm approx.
Folded: 10 x 26.5 cm approx.
[About dyed fabrics]
* Colours shown in images may differ slightly from actual products.
* Colours may bleed during initial use due to sweat or rubbing. This is due to the nature of the dyeing process and is not a product fault.
* Wash separately from other articles.
* Individual products may vary slightly with respect to dimensions, colour differences, and pattern reproduction.
During the Meiji era, yukata (summer cotton kimonos) and hand towels dyed in vivid colourful patterns were part of everyday life.
The invention of the distinctive Japanese dyeing technique known as Chusen paved the way for a huge variety of different fabrics.
Founded in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, in 1899, Marukyu Shouten sold a wide range of the Chusen fabrics that were so beloved by the people of Tokyo.
Even today, it has many Chusen fabrics on offer.
The Chusen dyeing process begins with the application of barrier glue to the fabric through a special template.
The barrier glue prevents the dye from reaching the fabric.
Once a section has been dyed, the template is removed and the fabric is folded over to expose a new section, then the process is repeated.
After 20 to 40 repetitions, glue is applied to create little mounds on the sections where different colours are to be used.
A kettle that looks like a watering can is used to pour the desired colour into the mound. A vacuum pump beneath the fabric draws the dye through the fabric.
The fabric is then turned over and the entire process is repeated on the other side. This produces the distinctive striking appearance of Chusen dyed fabrics, which do not have a front and back like conventional fabrics.
Chusen dyeing was a revolutionary breakthrough at the time, because it was the first ever mass production process for fabric dyeing.
Unlike modern garments that are mass-produced by machinery, however, Chusen fabrics still require each and every process to be performed by hand.
This is why every product is slightly different, with its own individual quirks and characteristics. This is the warmth of genuine handmade products.
The intricate variations and blurring patterns are something that only expert artisans can create.
Marukyu Shouten offers a wide variety of yukatas, hand towels, and other textile products created using traditional techniques and methods under the Shin Edozome brand name.
As well as faithfully reproducing a huge number of templates from the past, the store also produces innovative new designs as part of its product offerings, designed to appeal to the modern consumer while also evoking a sense of nostalgia.
It is committed to working closely with dye artists, textile experts, and dye workshops to preserve and promote the traditional Chusen dyeing technique.