When it comes to authentic reproductions of denim, no country does it better than Japan. Artisans there have sourced many of the original shuttle looms that made crafting denim the traditional way possible.
Weaving Shibusa is a documentary that delves into the revival of denim in Japan. The film gives unprecedented access to the storied industry of Japanese denim, told by the vintage denim experts thesmselves, the highly regarded “Osaka 5”.
What makes Japanese denim special is not only the materials, machinery, and techniques, but also the people and ideas behind the process. This film reveals the intense passion and insight behind Japanese denim, but also poses the question; what is the future of these garments that are so deeply rooted in the past?
The trailer gives a quick glimpse into what viewers can expect from the film which releases in August. There will be a premiere at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre on August 6.
Levi’s is a brand that needs no introduction. As the worldwide leaders in denim, they need no introduction. The team over at Heddels visited the Levi’s Archive Vault in San Francisco.
The Levi’s archives there house thousands of items from the brand’s nearly 150 year history including jeans and apparel, marketing materials, textile samples, packaging, promotional items, and much more. The red tab’s reproduction line, Levi’s Vintage Clothing, draws upon numerous vintage pieces in the archive to make their seasonal collection. Heddel’s explored the design office and archives to preview the current Spring/Summer 16 line that takes inspiration from the Levi’s company baseball team, “Elesco” (a phonetic pronunciation of “L.S.&Co.”). Elesco games date back to 1886, and Senior Designer Paul O’Neill based this collection upon a single photograph of the company team from 1913.
The Type II Levi’s Denim Jacket is my favorite denim jacket design. While the Type I is much more common and recognized, the type II’s distinct front pockets give it a much more balanced design in my opinion. As part of a new Mr.Porter intuitive, the site has teamed up with Beams to curate a collection of exclusive items from Japanese designers. OrSlow specializes in denim and forming new pieces based upon American vintage classics. This 1950’s style features a medium wash, light distressing and a reasonable price point compared to something like the Visvim 101. Get it at Mr.Porter.
While it’s easy to find photos of new product, it’s not very often you come across photos of pieces that have been worn in and well loved for years. Denim is a fabric that conforms to the wearers lifestyle and tells a story through its various fades so it was a logical place to start for this first ‘worn in’ feature.
I caught up with Andrew Chen who is a jack of all trades in the menswear business. He’s a co-founder of 3sixteen, owner in Self Edge New York and also runs the brand new Chapter & Verse agency in New York. No stranger to quality denim products, I took some snaps of him in his his pair of Flat Head F380’s and interviewed him on everything from his favorite pair to what he considered when it came to designing denim for 3sixteen.
How did you come to own these jeans and how long have you worn them?
These are the first pair of jeans I bought as an owner of Self Edge NY. Prior to partnering with Kiya, Demitra and Johan to open up the NY branch of the shop in 2009, I had bought several pairs directly from Kiya – but being on the sales floor and having constant access to all these great jeans every day led me to start trying many of them on. The Flat Head F380 was the perfect cut for me, a mid-rise straight leg with a slight taper from the knee down. I was also anxious to see how the Flat Head denim would wear in over time firsthand. I’ve had them since January of 2010; I took them home with me the night before leaving to Paris with my wife to visit family.
See the rest of the feature after the jump
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Vintage 60’s Era Made in US Levi’s 501.
After a some time away from wearing indigo denim, I’m back wearing it regularly. I started looking online for a pair of vintage jeans with a perfect fade. When I saw this pair of vintage Levi’s I knew I had to get em. I placed a bid through Yahoo Japan Auction and the help of the good folks over at SutoCorp proxy received them a few short days later.
I believe these shrink to fit US made Levi’s 501s date back to the 1960’s and the tag indicates that they were a Japanese import. Noticeable details include the redline selvedge and the old Big E LEVI’s branding. There’s been numerous tears on these jeans and as you can see from the pics; many repairs performed. My favorite aspect of these jeans is definitely the color of them. The wash down the front is perfect to me. The whiskering just compliments the faded indigo so well. It’s been some time since I’ve owned Levi’s but having the opportunity to own these helps me understand why vintage pairs are so coveted. It comes down to the feel of the denim which is substantial but not heavy and the understated look. I feel lucky to own something that is in a word, original.
Photos by Rocky Li
I got this pair of Skull Jeans by an Alchemist denim about 4 years ago. Since then they’ve seen countless wears and have just been put through a lot. These jeans are a slim tapered cut and a sturdy 14.5oz denim weight. The 6×6 refers to the denim thickness of the indigo warp and ecru weft.
When I first got these they were slightly used but in near-raw condition and I’ve since washed em about half a dozen times and taken them around the world with me. They’ve been through alot and despite their rips and tears I love these jeans more now than when they were still dark indigo.
I’ve heard people say that raw denim is played out in the current men’s market. The concept behind denim repro (reproduction) brands such as Skull Jeans is to pay homage to the denim manufacturing techniques of the past not to become trendy objects of desire. Artisanal jeans such as these are not cheap but once you wear a pair through to this point you will understand the appeal. I don’t think I could ever part with these jeans. Just looking at them reminds me of concerts I went to, people in my life, late nights spent partying and early morning workdays.
You can get a brand new pair of these same jeans for $345 at Blue in Greene.
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Despite the current popularity of raw denim it is still rare to see a perfectly worn in pair. My friend Ramon has worn these Evisu No.1 Special Lot 2000 jeans heavily for over two years and this is the result. Beautiful honeycombs, even whispering and a sun bleached indigo fade that pre-washed jeans could never live up to.
Evisu may seen played out after the jeans were spotted on every hypebeast and rapper in the late 2000s but personally I’ll never get sick of the painted gulls. If you are considering a pair of these, make sure you shell out for the Made in Japan models. The Evisu name has been licensed in Europe and North America and those jeans pale in comparison in quality to the original Japanese made pairs.
Photos by Rocky Li