April 15, 2011 § 4 Comments

The other day I Received an interesting request from one of my favorite clients; did I have access to an International Klein Blue color cloth for a suit?

International Klein Blue (IKB) is quite an interesting color because it cannot be displayed accurately on a computer screen or on television.

In the novel Zero History by William Gibson, the character Hubertus Bigend has a suit made of material in IKB. In the novel he states that he wears this because the intensity of the color makes other people uncomfortable.


Pretty cool, rather exotic and an excellent example of how a suit can perform different functions or impressions on people.

I had an idea of what IKB looked like as at one point in Leeds I acquired a B.A, (although the details are rather foggy) but I decided to do a bit of research and consult with Professional Artist Charles Spurrier, who is also my father in law. Upon visiting Charles’ studio in Brooklyn, he explained to me that IKB was patented by  Artist Yves Klein and that the intense blue of IKB was in essence an ultramarine that could retain the color of a pure dry pigment.

Yves Klein. Just a regular day at the office for this Frenchman.

There is something of the “Emperors New Clothes” in discussing this color on the internet with accompanying photography but I was actually able to source a good approximation of IKB in cloth form which is a super 130s Gaberdine woven in the Great Britain.

International Klein Blue in Oil paint, cloth and Oil pastel medium

What is really astounding is that in the flesh the color on the left is extremely close to the color of the cloth swatch in the centre. The sample on the left and far right are both IKB but in different medium namely oil paint and oil pastel but they look rather different due to the application of the medium (applied heavy or light) and the medium itself.

Identifying what exactly IKB actually looks like (my initial objective) really lead me into color theory. What is color? Does it exist on paper or in the eye, or the medium it is expressed? Can IKB truly exist in cloth form? My conclusion: probably not in the strictest sense. IKB is patented as a color but mainly as a process of retaining the color in paint. Cloth and paint are very different mediums, a true comparison is not possible but if the client was looking for a suit in International Klein Blue I believe I have found the cloth to use.

Certainly interesting questions are raised here about the nature of color, its effects on the viewer psychologically and indeed how it is seen.

Quite a bit of research and thought here just to acquire samples, but very interesting and fulfilling to do for its own sake. The Client will be looking at samples of this cloth and deciding if he wishes to place a commission. Creatively, I really hope he goes for it.



  • Alan says:

    This is why your the best Dave. Try talking about color theory and minutia like this to any other tailor in the world and see what happens.

  • Erik says:

    Excellent post David. I am glad I brought it to your attention.

    I suspect when I see it live I will either love it or hate it but I am looking forward to seeing it. (seeing things you love or hate are often equally enjoyable)

    The other one I am fascinated with it paris green. I first encountered it when I was a kid and found an old infant’s coffin at my grandma’s house that was put to use storing paintbrushes when the infant mortality rate of the US dropped. It was in a pile inside of it and all black and then when I touched it it showed bright green. Luckily I did not touch it much more after that because it is pretty toxic. I later found out what it was and that it was the reason why storm shutters are either green or black because they were painted with Paris Green for insecticide reasons and then oxidised into black as the paint aged.

    Of course I would never wear a Paris Green suit unless body lice were a bigger threat than Arsenic poisoning.

  • Trevor Mill says:

    I’m a big fan of Yves Klien; there was a good exhibition at the Hayward gallery (at London’s South Bank) a while back(his stuff went very well with the brutalist architecture).

    The best Klien fact is that he was really good at JUDO.
    Oh yes. And he threw himself of a wall.

    I’ll have a shirt in that IKB!

  • Jovan says:

    At best, I’d have a lining in this colour. And the brightest blue suiting I’d get is something like one of the suits on Mad Men.

What’s this?

You are currently reading INTERNATIONAL KLEIN BLUE SUIT at David Reeves.


%d bloggers like this: