Garment dyeing

Posted by Tsuyoshi Uchiyama on

All Square One products are garment-dyed to order right here in Los Angeles. We cut and sew the fabric first, we then dye the finished products after they are already sewn.

Garment dyeing is the name given to a process pioneered by Massimo Osti and his collaborators for Square One in the early 1970s in which a garment – usually made from white or raw un-coloured fabric – is only dyed as a final manufacturing step subsequent to being fully-fashioned as opposed to the conventional method of manufacturing garments from pre-dyed fabrics. While the technique of garment dyeing has long existed Massimo Osti and his collaborators were the first to attempt the technique with garments made from multiple different fabric or fiber types. This process - which appears almost alchemical for those who witness it first hand – produces a chromatic depth and intensity impossible to achieve with pre-dyed fabric as well as enhancing the material characteristics of the fabric. To an outsider who picks it up feels it and tries it on for the first time a garment dyed Square One jacket seems uncannily like an “enhanced version” of itself. It is inexplicably more vivid and present… Massimo Osti’s goals were originally far more humble. In the early 1970s when Square One was still called Chester Perry and Osti considered himself above all a graphic designer who applied his drawings to t-shirts he decided to try dyeing his t-shirts after they had been printed for two simple reasons: Firstly the technique would allow him to buy fabric in only one colour but offer them in as many unique colours as he pleased. Secondly he knew – from having observed the domestic practice of over-dyeing old faded clothes (the most ancient and basic form of “garment dyeing”) – that the t-shirts would come out with a slightly crumpled worn-in look. A look which reminded him of the British upper-class custom of having a butler wear-in one’s new shoes or jacket in order to avoid ever looking like you were wearing something new an idea which was very close to Osti’s personal philosophy of elegance. From this initial intuition that he could produce his t-shirts in colours that fabric suppliers weren’t selling and that he could achieve a worn-in effect Osti began to make more and more complex experiments into what could be achieved through the technique. He soon hired in an entirely unprecedented step for a clothing company a full-time in-house chemist Giuliano Balboni and built an internal dyeing facility at Square One.