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1897 / “Indigo Pure BASF”

In 1897, BASF successfully launches its synthetic “Indigo Pure BASF”, winning the race to produce the “king” of natural dyes. Signs point to a profitable market is open, and indigo soon develops into one of BASF’s bestsellers. The road to success is paved with risk: It takes 17 years of intensive research and 18 million gold marks of investment – more than the company’s share capital at the time – to accomplish the synthesis of the sought-after blue dye.

Yet, indigo soon has to give way to an in-house rival, as the company’s first colorfast and lightfast indanthrene dyes increasingly replace it on the market. Indigo undergoes a renaissance in the mid-1960s, when blue jeans become a cult item for an entire generation. Indigo thus becomes a pillar of BASF’s dye business for the second time.