Textile Development and Marketing students harvested indigo at Professor Jeff Silberman’s farm in New York in October. Indigo is best known as the dye for blue jeans, but textile dyeing with the leaves of the indigo plant is an ancient process going back at least 6,000 years.
Silberman is growing these plants in conjunction with FIT’s Rooftop Natural Dye Garden, initiated by TDM students three years ago. Since chemical textile dyes are harmful to the environment, the department is investigating natural, plant-based alternatives. They’re using the indigo to dye fabrics, but the Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing Department will be researching the substance for use in natural, organic hair color.