Treasured by jeans fanatics around the world for its exceptional quality, Japanese denim gets the cinematic treatment in a new documentary, directed by American filmmaker, Devin Leisher.

The documentary, Weaving Shibusa, offers a glimpse into the country’s unique and somewhat mysterious jeans industry, and includes interviews with some of the most legendary and widely-respected figures in Japanese jeans. {Check out the theatrical trailer above}

In recent years, exceptionally high-quality jeans from Japan have become highly-sought after by fashionable people around the world, and they frequently command a high price at top boutiques in cities like New York, Paris, and London. Expensive European brands, like APC and G-Star Raw, boast of the “raw selvedge” Japanese denim they use in their premium products.

It’s little wonder considering that many premium Japanese denim brands still employ techniques long since abandoned by American manufacturers in favor of speed and convenience.

Weaving Shibusa celebrates this painstaking adherence to traditional weaving and dyeing techniques, while showing the obsessive craftsmanship that makes Japanese “raw denim” synonymous with excellence amongst fashionistas across the world. The title of the documentary contains the word “shibusa,” which refers to the traditional Japanese concept of a mature and somewhat subdued aesthetic — a concept of “cool” that first emerged in Japan centuries ago owing to stringent sumptuous laws that dictated what common people were allowed to wear and not wear.

Though this aesthetic might appear effortless, it is anything but. The documentary’s trailer shows how some modern-day denim manufacturers in Japan have even gone so far as to import vintage shuttle looms to ensure absolute fidelity to the techniques used decades ago to make authentic, high-quality jeans. Others have incorporated the country’s centuries-old methods of indigo dyeing (called aizome) using fermented indigo to achieve a deep, rich quality unrivaled in the world of fashion.

People interested in learning more about the fascinating world of Japanese denim should definitely check out the film, which opened at the famed Castro Theater in San Francisco on August 6th.

And if this post got you into the mood for some Japanese Selvedge jeans, here are some great options for the dudes:
Ralph Lauren RRL, J.Crew, PRPS, and Jean Shop.

For the ladies: 6397, Chimala, rag & bone/jean, and J.Crew.


  1. I posted an article from a couple of years ago in the forum today. It is an interview with Jenna Lyons and one of the brands she is fond of is Chimala.

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