Japan is one of the most inspiring countries when it comes to denim design and innovation. Brands like Momotaro Jeans, Studio d’Artisan, Evisu, Sugarcane Jeans, FDMTL, have been setting and raising the bar with time. Japanese craftsmen put amazing passion into their work and that makes all the difference.
Paying attention to the minutest details of making the right fabric for their brand to fits and all the while remaining elegant and mostly not going overboard with their designs is what makes Japanese denim special.
Japanese denim history is not very long starting around the second world war. And after some time they developed their own ethos and fashion sense for the jeans which set them apart from rest of the world.
Japanese society was first introduced to denim by the American soldiers who, when leaving Japan after World War II, left some of their belongings including denim pants, which were then sold in street markets. The jeans were attracting a lot of attention of the Japanese during that time.
However, we need to remembered that Japanese have a long history of indigo dyeing
which goes back more than 1000 years. With denim fabrics, their affinity was immediate and resonated with their love for Indigo. Let’s have quick look at the timeline of the evolution of Japanese Denim.
TIMELINE (1955 – 79)
1955: The popular film “Rebel Without a Cause” featured the outlaw James Dean in an attitude of defiance. Its aesthetic and other elements of American culture attracted the attention of many Japanese.
1961: Toyoda shuttle looms (still being used today by Japanese denim artisans) interweave warp and weft threads with a component called a shuttle, which loops the warp thread back and forth on the loom, threading it through the weft threads in a unique way in which the fabric acquires a texture and resilience impossible to achieve on the modern industrial-production looms that were even then becoming dominant throughout the world.
1967: BIG JOHN jeans were produced alongside Canton jeans and were made of denim from Cone Mills, the same mill that provided Levi’s with their unmistakable fabric. While the jeans were successful, the Japanese still craved a pair made from their own selvage denim.
1972: The Japanese textile company, Kurabo, after eight attempts, succeeded in manufacturing the first Japanese selvedge denim fabric in history (called KD-8) in its factory situated in Kojima (a town with an important textile tradition at the time and the epicenter of Japanese denim today).
1973: The “M” series, produced by BIG JOHN of Kurabo KD-8 denim, became Japan’s first pair of jeans made entirely by their fellow countrymen. What followed was a revolution in jean production lead by the same people who were at the forefront of the vintage craze.
1979: Shigeharu Tagaki created in Osaka the Studio D’Artisan brand (today one of the icons of Japanese denim), later joined by the brands Denime, Evisu, Fullcount and Warehouse. Together they formed what became known as the “Osaka 5”, creating a distinctive style and establishing the bases of what has become the culture of Japanese denim.
Japan has a long history in indigo and denim and has been able to teach a few lessons to the global community in terms of technological and fashion directions that the industry takes. It is a pole of attraction for designers from brands around the world who go there in search of inspirations from the perfectionist fashion creations of the Japanese designers.
Since denim is such an important product for the Japanese and there was no denim supply chain dedicated to denim, Denimsandjeans – the pioneers of denim shows in Vietnam, Bangladesh, and India – recently announced the launch of their maiden denim show in Japan on March 4th and 5th, 2020, in Tokyo. Themed “Designed innovation”, the show aims to bring together global innovation hub at Japan for the denim aficionados.
“Japan is one of the most inspiring places to go to for denim lovers. We hope to create this show as an innovation hub for global industry with a special Japanese flavor“, says Sandeep Agarwal , CEO Denimsandjeans.
Participants from over 10 countries are joining the show and over 1200 overseas buyers are expected to visit the show from Japan, USA, Australia, Europe, and South East Asia. Apart from that, as part of a knowledge sharing initiative, several denim talks and panel discussions are scheduled. Some of reputed international denim experts have been invited to share their denim expertise during these panel discussions.