What are fades and why do they happen?

6 months ago
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Indigo-dyed denim is not like other fabrics. With wear and wash, the deep blue colour slowly turns brighter and the white core of the yarn slowly appears. In other words, it fades.


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All denim fades, but it’s much more visible on raw denim jeans compared to pre-washed jeans, which essentially already has been faded.

The reason for indigo’s unique fading property is found in the vat dyeing process.

Indigo starts as a powder. To get it onto the yarn or the fabric, it's solubilized in water. When the yarn or fabric is pulled out of the dyeing vat, the oxidation process binds the color to the fibers of the yarn.

The indigo doesn’t reach the core of the yarn, but only binds externally. This gives what’s known as a ‘ring dye’ effect. And that’s what makes jeans fade. As the dye slowly wears and washes off, the undyed core appears.

With traditional hand-dyeing techniques, such as the traditional Japanese ‘aizome’—which uses fermented natural indigo—and hank dyeing, you can achieve higher dye permeation of the yarn. The yarn is dipped numerous times until the desired color is reached. The result is a fabric that fades slower.

Even with several dips in industrial indigo dyeing, the indigo pigments stay on the surface of the yarn. As the color slowly wears and washes off, the undyed core appears. This is true for both natural indigo and synthetic indigo when used in modern-day indigo dyeing.


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Guangzhou Feng Gu Textile Co., Ltd.
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Block E , NO1-2, New Cowboy Town, Da li Yanbu pingdi, Nanhai District, Foshan City
Product details

All denim fades, but it’s much more visible on raw denim jeans compared to pre-washed jeans, which essentially already has been faded.

The reason for indigo’s unique fading property is found in the vat dyeing process.

Indigo starts as a powder. To get it onto the yarn or the fabric, it's solubilized in water. When the yarn or fabric is pulled out of the dyeing vat, the oxidation process binds the color to the fibers of the yarn.

The indigo doesn’t reach the core of the yarn, but only binds externally. This gives what’s known as a ‘ring dye’ effect. And that’s what makes jeans fade. As the dye slowly wears and washes off, the undyed core appears.

With traditional hand-dyeing techniques, such as the traditional Japanese ‘aizome’—which uses fermented natural indigo—and hank dyeing, you can achieve higher dye permeation of the yarn. The yarn is dipped numerous times until the desired color is reached. The result is a fabric that fades slower.

Even with several dips in industrial indigo dyeing, the indigo pigments stay on the surface of the yarn. As the color slowly wears and washes off, the undyed core appears. This is true for both natural indigo and synthetic indigo when used in modern-day indigo dyeing.