Lotte Dalgaard, Danish specialist textile weaver of “collapse fabrics”


via Lotte Dalgaard,

Lotte Dalgaard is one of Denmark’s most exciting hand-weavers, creating one-off fabrics with special pleated, crinkled, puckered effects in the weave, which are then transformed into unique and unusual high-end garments by Danish fashion designer Ann Schmidt.  I was able to visit and interview Lotte in her studio in early January 2010 and in September Lotte will be running a special one-week collapse fabric weaving course at Anna Champeney Textile Studio in Galicia, Spain. 

lotte dalgaard in her Danish weaving textile studio

Lotte Dalgaard and her architect husband, Flemming, live in a cosy Danish farmhouse to the west of Copenhagen, not far from Roskilde, famous for its Jazz Festival and Viking Museum.  When I visited her Denmark was in the grip of one of the coldest spells of weather for many years, with daytime sub-zero temperatures into double figures.  The farmhouse was a magical sight in the snow, and it was there, in a converted farm building, that Lotte has her spacious and light weave studio, overlooking the Danish countryside with its open fields and wide skies.

Lotte’s textiles are the result of over 10 years experimentation with the new generation of yarns being developed by the textile industry, ranging from light-reflective and paper yarns to very fine overtwisted wools and metallic yarns, monofilament yarns and special shrinking yarns.  The very fact that Lotte has access to these kinds of yarns in Denmark is due to the fact that she, along with other hand-weavers and the Design School in Copenhagen, set up a Yarn Purchasing Association.  Collaborative ventures, co-operatives and exhibiting groups are very normal in Denmark – in many different crafts – and the Purchasing Association is a clear example of how everybody benefits from this approach.  Committee members of the Association who work at the Design School attend some of the international yarn fairs in Europe and buy new yarns which are beyond the reach of individual makers because of the huge minimum quantities specified by the yarn companies.  The Association makes the yarns available to individual makers, usually professionals, who can buy in smaller quantities.  Anyone can become a member of the Association upon paying a membership fee, and in the UK, a number of the yarns are now sold by the Handweavers’  Studio in London.

Lotte was amongst the first people to have access to these exciting new yarns in Denmark and quickly began to realise their potential for creating unusually-textured fabrics.  In fact, it is true to say that access to these yarns transformed her way of working, and she now focuses almost exclusively on these textiles.  When Lotte met Ann Schmidt, the original and very individual Copenhagen fashion designer (you could say fashion artist), it was the perfect recipe for a collaboration.  Ann’s approach to fashion design – with a clear emphasis on creating architectural clothing designs on the mannekin, by folding cloth and forming it, rather than by simply pattern cutting was perfect for Lotte’s handwoven textiles.  The results are one-off pieces which are textile garments at their most poetic.  They are extremely beautiful, eye-catching, extremely individual, and at the same time beautifully wearable;  Lotte gave me a midnight blue-black pleated dress to try on and you really feel quite different when you put it on as the fabric and its unusual form invites you to move in a different way.

One-of-a-kind garment with hand-woven fabric by Lotte Dalgaard

The garments display some of the simplicity and elegant understatement of Japanese textiles – which have always been a strong influence in Ann Schmidt’s work.  Nevertheless, this simplicity is deceptive because it is the result of a long meditative process, exploring the different possibilities of forming the fabric on the mannekin.   I was able to visit Ann’s Studio the day that Lotte took in a new piece of fabric which I had watched her finish the night before.   Ann’s mannekin was draped with a new piece of cloth, with double-weave and huge floats.  This is destined to be the next one-of-a-kind garment.

I really enjoyed talking with Lotte about textiles, because I recognise and know the passion and excitement she has in exploring the different materials and really getting to know their properties and how to handle them.  She is a weaver´s weaver, very expert in her knowledge of her subject, and very close to her materials.  And yet she has been able to “take-off” and, thanks to her collaboration with Ann Schmidt, is able to make quite remarkable woven objects.


A few years ago Lotte was encouraged by British weaver Ann Richards to write down all the knowledge she had acquired.  The result was Magical Materials, a book about collapse weave published by Fiber Feber.  An English translation by Ann Richards brings the Danish publication within the reach of an English-speaking audience and you can read the review I wrote in the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (winter 2009).   Books like this are so important for hand-weaving generally in Europe as they help to raise standards, encourage innovation, and, in this case, try out new yarns.


The textile industry has undergone massive changes in the last 50 years, and unless hand-weavers can access the same new innovative yarns to experiment with, they will fall behind.  As a hand-weaver today I have to ask myself Why Make Hand-made Textiles?  In the work of Lotte Dalgaard and her collaboration with Ann Schmidt I find an answer.



Denim Doc ‘Weaving Shibusa’ is Now Available Online

via Denim Doc ‘Weaving Shibusa’ is Now Available Online

After searching for how to view this last year,  I eventually accidentally came across this post, downloaded the movie and watched it last night. It is very impressive but I was bit disappointed that  the movie focused mostly on  “talking heads” who founded Japanese denim and  did not show more of the actual weaving and making. Serious fanatics these guys, but very admirable- well worth watching!!


You can’t say we don’t try our best to ensure our readers are informed and up to date on the goings-on in the world of niche denim. First, we published our chat with Director Devin Leisher about his film Weaving Shibusa, a rare documentary focusing on the somewhat mysterious world of the Japanese denim industry.

We followed that up with a notice of the films world premiere, presented by Self Edge, and here we are a third time to alert those that couldn’t make the premiere that the documentary is now available to buy and watch online.

The film is the first of its kind and lets the masters of the Japanese denim industry, including many prominent members of the Osaka 5, tell the tale in their own words. Self Edge sums frames the film as such:

“What makes Japanese denim special is not only the materials, machinery, and techniques, but also the people and ideas behind the process. This film reveals the intense passion and insight behind Japanese denim, but also poses the question; what is the future of these garments that are so deeply rooted in the past?”

Rent it for $6.99 or buy it for $9.99 on Vimeo.

How Japanese denim heads perfected an American classic

More on the Japanese Denim legends Crossroads Japan  By Zahra Jamshed, CNN

You may feel they’re priceless, but your favorite jeans could be worth far more than you realize.
Perhaps even tens of thousands of dollars.
So valuable, in fact, that New York-based filmmaker Devin Leisher has produced a documentary dedicated to the history and production of the American classic.
But here’s the catch: according to the documentary — “Weaving Shibusa,”which premiered in San Francisco in early August — the world’s best denim is made and collected in Japan. There, denim is a specialty, and jeans are an art.
If produced by the right brand and machine, new jeans in Japan can sell for more than $1,000, while vintage collectibles can fetch $40,000.
Weaving Shibusa: How Japan perfected an American classic
By exploring old mills and vintage stores, and interviewing denim specialists — such as the Osaka 5, an elite group that practices traditional weaving — the documentary offers insight into a handcrafted tradition rarely found in the mass market factories that dominate today.
CNN Style spoke to Devin Leisher about the history of denim in Japan, the elite Osaka 5, and why this classic garment can come with a remarkably hefty price-tag.
What makes Japanese denim so interesting to denim enthusiasts like yourself?
Everyone loves denim, whether you recognize it or not. We all have a favorite pair, we all have that one that fits us right.
I’ve always appreciated denim, but my infatuation with Japanese denim started almost a decade ago when I was searching for a thick denim.
Tokyo tech: This crystal universe actually exists
Back then, discussions about dyeing techniques and fabrics were still sparse, so I decided to do my own research and came across a brand called Samuraiwhich opened me to this world.
Now, demand for raw denim has exploded. There are blogs and websites dedicated to the topic, and it’s jumped from a niche interest to a booming global one.
Why is Japanese denim the pinnacle of production?
The attention to detail: the dyeing, the cotton, the way the fabric has been treated, everything.
I came across a pair recently that was denim on the outside, but on the inside, the entire garment was lined with sterling silver fibers.
An outsider would never see the silver lining. They have no idea about the secrets hidden in the jean, but the wearer does.
Another example is a pair I came across recently by a brand called Strike Gold.
The rivets on their jeans are copper on the outside, but zinc on the inside. This is done because the different metals will pick up different colors as they age and oxidize, so the wearer can witness its evolution over time.
Inside Japan’s teeny tiny micro homes
For these brands, the thought process goes beyond “What can I do to make this button look right?” It goes down to “What can I do to make this button?”
How did the Japanese denim market originate?
It’s pegged to the vintage fashion boom, which took place during the ’50s.
Immediately after WWII, it was popular for youth in Japan to wear school uniforms as fashion due to a desire during the war to show unity and uniformity.
But by the ’50s, students started exploring makeshift stores at US military outposts, and American pop culture — fashions, graffiti, cars — made its way into schools.

courtesy weaving shibusa/devin leisher
The jeans purchased at these outposts were old and worn, and so an appreciation for vintage worn denim grew, and it has become a collector’s item today.
Japanese collectors now own 70% of America’s vintage denim, and Levis in particular is a standout brand.
Today, a pair of Levis 501 jeans from the 1940s can go for over $3,000 in Japan, and it is common for extremely rare Levis to come with a $40,000 price tag.
When did Japan begin producing its own denim?
The first Japanese brand to produce its own jeans was Big John.
Homegrown denim production then took off in the ’70s, and by the ’80s it was all about quality, and so brands brought their denim production to fabric mills in Okayama.
Today, Okayama is a haven for jean enthusiasts, but before denim came along, the mills were long used for quality Japanese fabric production and textile exports.
Feats of a Japanese fashion legend
Denim makers brought back old fabric machines, which were being phased out.
But their secret is not just the machines, it’s the people that run them.
In today’s mass production factories, you’ll see 150 stacks of fabric cut by a motorized saw. But in these mills, there is always a hands-on approach before the machine is used: denim is often hand-dyed before it is placed on the machine itself, and fabric patterns are often meticulously cut by hand.
One brand, Momotaro, is best known for its handmade approach.
Their premium selection is made from denim that is hand-woven on a wooden hand-loom, day after day, by one craftsman. Momotaro’s premium handmade selections sell for up to $2,000.

A man works a weaving machine at the Momotaro Jeans factory in Kojima district, Okayama.

A man works a weaving machine at the Momotaro Jeans factory in Kojima district, Okayama. Credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Who are the Osaka 5?
Okayama is known for producing the material itself, but the world’s fascination with Japanese denim can be traced back to five Osaka-based brands: Full Count, Evisu, Studio D’Artisan, Denime, Warehouse.
The creators of these brands — Mikiharu Tsujita, Hidehiko Yamane, Shigeharu Tagaki, Yoshiyuki Hayashi, Shiotani brothers — are collectively known as the Osaka 5, and their craftsmanship set the foundation for local denim production.
When they entered the market, they did not create basic denim jeans. Instead, they focused on quality, craft and recreating an original vintage feel.
What makes them specialists in denim production today?
These guys are perfectionists.
They use old machines, dated stitching techniques, and go to lengths to revive fabric quality that barely exists today.
What makes the Osaka 5 even more special is how they’ve grown together: they started their brands one after another, they share trade secrets, they helped each other grow.
Between them, there is no competition, no one who does it best — just a bond over their love of the material.

Japanese Denim: A History of the World’s Best Denim

The intriguing story of the how Japan became the source of the worlds best denim  From High Snobriety – many other sources also we will visit some often  later

Denim from Japan has a reputation among denim enthusiasts as being the best in the world and for good reason. While it doesn’t have nearly as long of a history, Japanese denim is known for its premium construction and the skilled, artisanal craft required to make it. Here we’ll explore the relatively short but significant history of Japanese denim to discover how it earned the reputation it has today and debunk a few myths along the way. Take a look below for the full story.

To understand why Japanese denim is significantly better than other types of denim we must first understand how denim is constructed and what makes some denim more sought after than others. Denim is a cotton twill textile in which the weft (the transverse thread) passes under 2 or more warp threads (the longitudinal threads). Indigo denim, the type of denim people think of when they think of jeans, dyes only the warp or longitudinal threads. If you look closely at a pair of jeans you’ll notice the weft or transverse threads maintain their white color as do the inside of a pair of jeans. Most denim made today uses synthetic dye which is cheaper and contains less impurities than natural dye, while premium denim often uses natural dye.

The other important trait in denim’s quality is the cloth the denim is made from. Selvage or selvedge, from the phase “self-edge”, refers to the natural end of a roll of fabric which, when made into a pair of jeans, prevents unraveling of the material. The cost of producing selvage denim is more expensive since it can only be woven at a width of 31″, about half the width of non-selvage denim, and is woven on old looms requiring more skill and adeptness. This leads to a tighter, denser weave along with various imperfections. Selvage denim is usually woven together with a signature red stripe although green, white, brown, and yellow are not so uncommon.

The combination of these characteristics gives each pair a distinctive composition that only becomes more unique over time. True denim enthusiasts are known to go months or even years before washing their jeans for the first time as the first wash creates the characteristic fades and creases unique to each wearer.

Most fabric was woven on slow, inefficient machines until the world’s 11th biggest company, Toyota Motor Corporation, came along and set our gaze toward the future. Before Toyota was rolling out the world’s best selling cars, they were producing textile looms under the name Toyoda Automatic Loom Works (yes, with a “d”). The company’s founder, Sakichi Toyoda, introduced the Model G Automatic selvage loom featuring new innovations like the ability to change shuttles without stopping among a range of other improvements which lead to a 20-fold increase in productivity compared to other looms in use at the time. It would be a few decades before the machines were used to create denim but for now they were an impressive and significant development toward what lay ahead.

Up until World War II, jeans had been the garment of choice for the working class and American GIs when they were off duty. After the war, jeans became a symbol of youth rebellion when James Dean was filmed wearing a pair in the iconic 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause. American culture and vintage clothing quickly became a fascination among Japanese youth with the most entrepreneurially-minded importing classic American jeans to sell for top dollar. This high demand in combination with the culture’s obsession and search for perfection caused jean production to take off in Japan, mostly in the town of Kojima located in the Okayama Prefecture.

Continue reading “Japanese Denim: A History of the World’s Best Denim”


I just discovered NUNO in a VAV magazine  – WOW!


This sampling from their website, google trolling etc…..


from Japan Living Arts

In 1984, Reiko Sudo co-founded Nuno Corporation with Junichi Arai, specializing in the design, production and sale of functional, innovative fabrics. She is Nuno’s director and principal designer. Nuno’s works are in numerous permanent museum collections throughout the world, including a couple of dozen at New York’s MOMA.


Inspired by the look of rubber bands on a magazine in a sunny window, Nuno devised a process using resin dyed to the color of rubber bands and applied to cloth in the right thickness through a silk-screen process.



Inspired by the way rust stained white work clothes, and after considerable trial and error, they sandwich iron plates between two layers of rayon, cover it with a blanket (electric blanket in winter) and then let it sit for two days. They then rinse off the fabric and the rust is set into the cloth.

from Jessica Hemmings

‘Inappropriate Technologies’: Tradition, Technology and NUNO

Tradition and technology are unlikely bedfellows. Unless, that is, you are speaking of the Japanese textile design company NUNO, who has spent over two decades nurturing a striking relationship between the two. Founded in 1984, NUNO has established a reputation at the forefront of innovative textile design. A large part of this success can be traced to a balance the company has struck between exploration of new technologies and a desire to recover waning traditional production methods. The match may be an unlikely one, but it has provided ingredients that have fuelled NUNO’s considerable contribution to the field of textile design.


Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse

  • 2017.09.05 – 2018.01.07

  • @The Textile Museum

Equally at ease working with new materials and structures as they are resurrecting traditional materials and processes, NUNO’s longstanding Artistic Director Reiko Sudo explains, “I want our fabrics to be enjoyed as fabrics, not for any special use”. The ten-strong team of NUNO designers mine both ends of the design spectrum. Rubber bands, for instance, melting in the sunshine of a windowsill raised the challenge of a new way to create “rubber band lustre onto fabric”. After testing a variety of materials, they finally arrived at silicone resin, printed through silk screens patterned with a series of circles similar to scattered piles of rubber bands seen in their inspiration. A special film provided the final layer of shine to the design. In contrast to such seemingly simple investigations, the decidedly high-tech Burner Dye series is fashioned from scorched metal threads, recycled from discarded ties. The uneven patina that results is wholly unique to each fabric.


In fact, many of the techniques NUNO explores are time rather than technology intensive. Rust, for example, became the dyestuff of choice when designers noticed, “how beautifully rust stains a white plaster wall or white work clothes.” Initial trial and error progressed slowly, largely because the majority of metals, such as nails, on the market today are treated with a rust retardant. Eventually a successful formula was established: well-rusted nails or iron plates are selected, sandwiched between two layers of rayon cloth and covered for two days. (In cold weather heat is added to the recipe via an electric blanket.) When the fabric is rinsed, the dye is fixed and, because the layering of fabric is random, no two lengths are alike. Time, rather than technology, is key.

Sudo often refers to these experiments as “inappropriate technologies”. By this she means the interdisciplinary leaps she has been able to orchestrate and capitalize upon within other industries, such as automotive paint application used to create the Stainless Steel series in the early 1990s, which have broadened the very parameters of textile design. Salt shrinking, is another example. This traditional Japanese technique for finishing textured fabric requires “soaking fabric in a neutral pH saline solution [which] reduces the fibres to the desired density. Originally sea water was used, but effects tended to be unstable; today calcium chloride or calcium nitrate afford more precise control.” When the technique is used in combination with resist dyed fibres, areas exposed to the solution will shrink while those unexposed will not. “Everything from bubble-pack plastic wrap [seen in ‘Bubble Pack’] to moulted snakeskin” are the results.


The final fabrics may be unusual, but this does not always mean that the equipment or techniques NUNO employs are far-fetched. “Graffiti”, for instance, looks like a collection of quickly scribbled marks. Using flocking (a technique commonly associated with an inexpensive way to produce imitation velvet) sparingly on a transparent ground, “lively textures like magnetised iron fillings” are created. In contrast, “Amate” takes its name from a traditional form of bark cloth made in central Mexico and mimics the dry, textured surface of bark with a combination of rayon, polyester and paper. “We wanted to a textile that wouldn’t feel like cloth or paper or leather or metal. In central Mexico, the Indians make a kind of bark cloth called ‘Amate’ by layering crisscrossed strips of tree bark, sometimes leaving a serendipitous scattering of holes. After this image, we screen-printed adhesive in an openwork pattern onto velvet, affixed strong Echizen handmade paper, then scrubbed away the excess with water and brush. The result is reminiscent of wet animal hide.”


A quest for new machinery, or machinery that can be used for alternative applications is also ongoing at NUNO. “Stalagmite” is one such result, a cloth suitable for a window covering or screen that is embroidered using “a special steering wheel embroidery machine, such as used for uchikake wedding kimono.” Designers may have sought new machinery to stitch the fabric, but their point of reference was far into the past, in this case the design based on calcified rock formations. Another example is “Baby Hairs”, a Jacquard woven cloth made from a mixture of Polyester and Saran. Saran tends to find applications in the sports industry because it is flame-resistance and highly water-absorbent. Impregnating the fibres with a solar-energy storing chemical, NUNO created a luminescent fabric in the pattern of the most delicate strands of baby hair.

This tension between old and new and the validity of making reference to both continues to fuel NUNO’s textile explorations. Fabrics such as the maize fibre “Green Fabric” show an ongoing search for the possible textile value of materials derived from other industries. Ironically, it is often the mundane that provides new ideas. Refreshingly, NUNO also takes responsibility for the waste management of its own designs. “Tsugihagi”, for instance, is sewn from the remnants and cut offs of other fabrics in the collection, providing an ever changing and dynamic response to the inevitable waste created through textile production. Remnants are gathered from the fabrics they weave and print and are stitched together onto a thin fabric, which is then dipped in an alkali solution to dissolve the foundation or backing fabric. (Alternatively, a water-soluble base is used a background, which is later washed away.) NUNO refers to this melting pot of fabrics as a “serendipitous survey of NUNO originals of different patterns, colours and materials all in one cloth.” Fabrics such as these offer emerging designers a sage lesson: attention to ecological issues need not result in aesthetic compromises.


NUNO’s frame of reference is a remarkably broad one. Along with an engagement with the possibilities of new technologies, NUNO also finds many answers to design questions in old technologies borrowed from other disciplines. As Sudo explains, “Textiles are not just a pleasure to look at, they are to be experienced with all five senses; the feel of textiles in the hand or on the body, the periodic rustling sounds, even the taste on the lips.”

Surface Design Journal (summer 2007: 6-11)