Before spending a week shooting in Kottakarai, Tamil Nadu, photographer Carl van de Linde thought £365 a bit steep for a pair of jeans. Not so after experiencing first-hand what goes into the production of naturally dyed fabric. "You can't compare it to, say, a Levi's factory," says van der Linde, "where you make the same thing over and over and it's easy to calculate overheads. Here, it's different colours… different patterns… working with a substance that's organic and alive… It's super artisanal."
The photographer spent time shooting natural dye specialists The Colours of Nature, a company which offers organic "seed to seam" services and offers a full-range of natural lightfast fabric colours, including indigo, yellow - made with Calendula officinalis - and red - made with Rubia cordifolia.
Extracted from organic Indigofera tinctoria leaves harvested in a nearby village, the indigo arrives in the traditional form of "cakes", which are ground into a fine powder and added to vast dyeing vats with lime and fermentation 'food'. Dye masters at The Colours of Nature then test the pH balance of the dye and remove any sediment to keep the colour consistent. Beyond producing dyes, thread and fabric, the company also creates finished garments which are sent to customers and stockists worldwide.