I’ve been noticing a lot of denim brands branching into Japanese denim. This particular area has been growing in popularity over the past couple of years even though a good few luxury brands have been using Japanese denim for years. Now that Japanese denim has been becoming more widespread, I decided to take a look and see what the fuss is about so my plan is to take 3 jeans from 3 different brands, operating at 3 different price ranges and compare and contrast the three to see if we can get to the root of this latest fascination with Japanese selvedge denim.
First some background, Japanese denim comes from a demand from Japanese youth culture in response to the growing popularity with denim in America in the 50s (Thanks James Dean!). It got to the stage during the 80s that importing American denim was an expensive but lucrative business and it was this that prompted Japanese manufacturers to start creating their own denim. It all started on narrow looms created by the toyoda company (yes that’s what the car company Toyota did before cars) and were able to create fabric at a higher rate then other looms. They also had the benefit of neater ends to the fabric and thus stopped unraveling.
A strip of coloured fabric was attached to this end and it became the self-edge or selvedge denim. Typically red in colour, but others have been used. The denim was typically, but not exclusively, higher in denim ounce making for more thicker and more durable denim and they were also produced with untreated and natural pigment. These two factors lead to jeans becoming individual as they are worn. This became the staple of Japanese denim that we know and love. Real denim officiendos will wear these pairs for up to 6 months without washing to lock in that worn vintage look.
This has become the basis for the latest surge in popularity for this particular type of denim. Brands such as Nudie and Dior Homme have been doing it for years now but now we can look at another brand, All Saints who this season have expanded their collection of Japanese Denim to include multiple pieces including jeans and jackets.
Here we look at the Oshima Iggy jeans: First of all, All Saints have decided not to follow the raw convention, but has undergone treatments basically doing all the work for you so you can get that worn in look straight away. First point is the cost: Japanese and luxury denim can be seriously expensive and typically exclusive to denim fans who know their denim! Now, All Saints have made Japanese denim available to the wider public.
Last year I spotted All Saints first Japanese piece, the Bloomsbury denim jacket and I was astonished at the quality and feel of the denim. I loved it and it’s become a wardrobe staple.
The craftsmanship of the Oshima Iggy is solid here, rivets, reinforced pockets and seams and a button fly. The denim ounce hasn’t been confirmed but I’m guessing it’s about 11-12oz which is on the lighter side, but they feel solid with very little give in the denim and a definite sense of superior quality to other All Saints jeans.
The fit is great though, a proper slim fit with a slim leg without being too skinny. But what I like is that the waist is fitted so my butt doesn’t fall out when I bend over due to the low rise. I’m a big Diesel fan so I would say they fit the same as Thavar with a little bit more room in the thigh and the fitted waist. The butt area is nice and snug with good pocket placement, my wife really liked it in these!! The red selvedge is perfect for turn ups.
The wash won’t set the world on fire, but it’s a good rich dark blue with gentle sanding and can be easily dressed up or down making it perfect for any occasion. To me, it’s just a good plain wash that’s well made. The price is a real winner, at ┬ú110/Ôé¼127 you’re getting a good bit of bang for your buck for what is an excellent robust jean. It’s a good starting point for Japanese denim.