By Robin | October 02, 2020

5 tees to spice up your indigo game 

If denim was a religion – and I am sure many of us consider it to be one – indigo would be one of its most sacred relics. As with the other crucial components of our beloved jeans like cotton, rivets and buttons, indigo is indispensable. It’s one of the most admired and loved parts of the denim potion. Its intense blue shades, unique wear characteristics and mythical history appeals to the denimhead in us all.

Some of us love indigo so much that we would dye everything blue given the chance. But luckily for us, there are some brands that share the same obsession and love that #bluelife just as much as we do. We’ve seen it all over the last few years – indigo everything, from wallets and accessories to boots and sneakers. But one item besides our jeans really lends itself to indigo dying – the humble t-shirt. Perfect to pair with your denims and offered by numerous brands, we’ve pulled together five tees and made some recommendations from what we found.


Magic Ways T-shirt in Asagi Indigo – COTTLE 

COTTLE is based in Kojima and the brand is built on the rich heritage of the Japanese textile industry, incorporating age-old Japanese manufacturing traditions and releasing well-made elevated basics. The Magic Ways T-shirt is one of the brands most popular items and is available in multiple colors amongst which, you guessed it, (Asagi) Indigo!

The t-shirts are made individually from a long fiber cotton fabric, giving it a super soft and glossy hand feel. The tee comes in an oversized relaxed fit and has a pocket on the left chest. The oversized tee wraps stress-free around the body, and the long(er) sleeves look great and can be rolled up. The shoulder has been constructed using a chain stitch, giving additional strength and movement.

The T-shirt has also been dyed by hand in natural indigo. This result is a non-uniform color, giving the tee a unique look and natural feel. The same as with your favourite pair of raw jeans, the natural indigo will fade and evolve the more it is worn. And what’s even better is that if the tee needs to be repaired or re-dyed, it can be sent back to COTTLE.

The Magic Ways T-shirt in Asagi Indigo is available on COTTLE’s web store for €185.

Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.


Indigo Hand Spun T-shirt – 11.11 / eleven eleven 

11.11 / eleven eleven has consolidated its roots in luxury fashion, with an emphasis on creating links between farmers, weavers, vegetable dyeing and block printing traditions. The Indian-based brand is spearheaded by Mia Morikawa and Shani Himanshu who are on a continuous quest for mastery, with sustainability of local strengths as an important value in their mission.

As the name suggests, the T-shirt is made from a hand spun fabric, which has been knitted on a hand flat bed. The fabric is made from Kala cotton, a specific type of cotton which is grown in Kachchh, a region in the west of India. Kala cotton is 100% organic, and one of the staples of the fabric portfolio of 11.11 / eleven eleven. It has been grown without the use of any pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and was purely fed by rain. The properties of the cotton in combination with the way it is processed results in a beautiful, soft, and comfy fabric.

Once the un-dyed cotton is processed into fabric, the tee is cut and sewn in a relaxed, rustic yet elegant fit. The tee fits well to the body and due to the stretchy fabric, offers a high level of comfort. To give the tee its beautiful blue shade, it’s dyed in a bath of indigenous natural indigo. Following the strong zero-waste policy of the brand, the tees are dyed in small batches and after the dyeing process is complete, the nitrogen rich water is used for fertilizing local crops.

11.11 / eleven eleven’s all natural Indigo Hand Spun T-shirt is available at the Kingpins Shop for €112.

Indigo Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.


HSS Heavy Shinkai Shirt – Tanuki 

The HSS Heavy Shinkai Shirt from the Okayama-based denim brand Tanuki is made from a custom-developed robust fabric which has been rope-dyed in natural indigo.

For the Heavy Shinkai fabric, Tanuki chose to work with a count 8 slub yarn, creating an uneven texture which evokes the feel of a hand-spun fabric. The yarns are fairly thick, resulting in a sturdy handle which will withstand countless washes and will keep its shape after wear. The yarns have been rope dyed following different techniques and for different periods, giving the fabric its unique dark color with lighter blue freckles.

The tee comes in a boxy silhouette with a slightly wider and longer body. Tanuki kept the design ‘clean’, with an eye catching blue side seam, signature embroidery and features a blue rib at the neck. It’s the high quality and attention to detail we’ve come to expect from this forward thinking brand.

Tanuki’s HSS Heavy Shinkai Shirt is available on for €80.

IndigoPhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.


215 Men’s Crew Neck T-shirt – Merz B. Schwanen 

Berlin-based knitwear specialist Merz B. Schwanen have been weaving unique fabrics on 100-year-old loopwheel machinery in Germany since 1911. The brand is known for its super high quality and fantastically soft fabrics, and last year they came up with a limited indigo dyed tee.

The 215 Men’s Crew Neck T-shirt is an easy-going and comfortable slim fit tee, with a round neckline and a straight hem. It is entirely made in Germany from high-quality materials, including a 100% organic cotton 2-count fabric. Due to circular knitting, the tee has no side seems, which is not only a cool detail, but also results in maximum comfort.

In order to give the tee its unique blue shade, Merz B. Schwanen teamed up with the indigo specialists from the renowned creative studio Blue Print Amsterdam. In their studio in Amsterdam, the Crew Neck T-shirts were dipped multiple times, by hand, in the finest natural indigo in order to achieve a vibrant and unique indigo color.

The hand-dyed all natural limited collaboration is available on for €126.65.

IndigoPhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.


Streatham Dark Indigo Tee – Swonne 

Design label SWONNE is the brainchild of Katie Golinczak who established the brand after working at some huge denim companies for fifteen years. Swonne is releasing contemporary season-less denim pieces for men, based on the brands’ leading values of sustainability, quality, comfort and style.

The Streatham Indigo Tee in dark indigo is made from a 100% cotton and has been manufactured in the USA. The tee fits close to the body, but due to its soft and thin fabric, it’s easy-to-wear and comfortable. Furthermore, the Streatham Indigo Tee has a raglan cut shoulder / sleeve with a center seam detail on the back. And, to give it the unmistakable Swonne identity, the brand have placed a metallic logo on the back of the shoulder.

The tee has been hand-dyed in indigo and then rinsed in order to get rid of any excess dye, which also minimizes any bleeding. What remains after rinsing the fabric is a beautiful non-uniform rich blue fabric showing the true beauty of indigo.

The Streatham Dark Indigo Tee is available at Swonne’s webstore for €33.50.

Photo courtesy of Hans Jellema.


High Five’ is a series at Robin Denim in which we feature five high-quality products from a specific category. All products featured in ‘High Five’ have been reviewed by our team and the series features our honest recommendations. The makers who are responsible for the products share the same artisanal approach towards quality and durability, which we love and admire.

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