Denim heads may dream in blue, but an up-and-coming bedding company is taking those dreams one step further.
Inspired to bring the benefits of traditional Japanese indigo-dyed fabrics into contemporary home goods, Aizome Bedding offers luxury organic bed linen to provide a unique and healthy sleep experience.
Founded in Tokyo by Michel May and launched one year ago, the company makes minimal pillow cases, sheets and duvet covers for twin to California king size mattresses with only two ingredients: natural indigo and organic cotton.
“Simply put, we make textiles completely from plants. This includes the dye as well; we produce 100 percent from the indigo plant,” May said. “Thanks to that, our textiles are hypoallergenic, antibacterial, skin-soothing, and ideal for people with weak skin and allergies.”
Indigo has been known for centuries for its skin-soothing properties. In Japan, May says samurai wore indigo-dyed garments under their armor, and it was commonly used to wrap newborn babies in as they have particularly sensitive skin. It was those benefits, and for one very personal reason, that led him to leave his career in the healthcare sector to focus on developing indigo-dyed bedding.
“The initial impulse to work in this area came when my mother was recovering from chemotherapy, and her skin reacted very strongly to her bedsheets,” May said. “Until then I had never heard about strong chemicals in bedding textiles, nor could I imagine that we would put up with hazardous cocktails of formaldehyde, flame retardants and heavy metals in such health-essential textiles.”
He added, “While I loved my job, I came to the conclusion that we have to do more to prevent serious diseases, rather than profiting from treating them.”
While the damaging effects synthetic indigo has on the environment has been widely reported on, May points out that Aizome uses a sustainable process for its natural indigo dye.
“While chemical dyes expose your skin to very strong synthetic materials that are toxic to biological organisms, natural dyes rely mostly on plants,” he explained. “Also, the biggest use of water in the production of textiles, about 85 percent, happens in the dyeing process. Most of this not only goes to waste, but paints rivers and lakes around the world in the latest hues of the fashion industry. At Aizome Bedding, we use all the water as fertilizer for farms, completing a natural production cycle.”
The one downside with plant-dyed textiles is that they usually wash out or stain. However, Aizome developed a dyeing technique to combat crocking.
“This is one of the main concerns people have with natural dyes. We have solved this by using a brand new, state-of-the-art technology,” May said. “It’s a complex process, but in short it uses soundwaves from a machine that is immersed in the liquid indigo dyes. Those waves accelerate to dye molecules so that they penetrate deeply into the yarn.”
In lab tests, May reports that Aizome’s textiles have scored in the highest ISO category of colorfastness.
Additionally, the bedding is made using cotton from a GOTS certified source and is dyed in an OEKO-TEX certified dyeing facility.
Aizome Bedding is currently available through Kickstarter, where the company touts these sustainable and health-benefiting properties, as well as its comfort factor. And May says more products are on the way.
“We plan on introducing a range of other natural indigo-related products, especially those that are in close contact with our skin and contribute to overall health,” he said. “We are still a small startup, but we slowly want to grow into a position where we can truly make a difference.”