Or the story of how Nordic aesthetics meets the Japanese way of thinking.
When you think of Japan, what goes through your head? Blossoming cherry trees? Tea ceremonies, calligraphy and ikebana? Kimonos and the neon skyline of Tokyo? Mount Fuji and Nintendo? Yes, that’s it or maybe it isn’t, maybe the images and memories just keep on coming. But what about Japanese denim? After reading this post, every time someone mentions Japan, you will think about jeans. The jeans that are now made – upcycled – in collaboration between Reet Aus and one of the oldest denim manufacturers of Japan. The jeans you’ll most likely wear forever. (Or almost forever!)
Denim-lovers from all over the world praise Japanese denim. They say that it’s the best. And with good reason. While its history is not nearly as long as that of American denim, its quality surpasses this and all others. Why?
Japan’s fascination with all things American began after World War II, but the cult of denim started after James Dean wore a pair of blue jeans in “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955). Immediately, jeans became a symbol of youth, of going-forth, and of future. Businessminded Japanese started importing jeans from the United States and prices went through the roof. Also, the American product met the Eastern mindset. Its eternal search for perfection, to be more exact. Those two – search for perfection and high demand – are likely to be thanked for the existence of Japanese denim.
In the small town of Kojima, which now is the denim capital of Japan, a company called Kurabo Mills decided to craft its own denim fabric. After many failed attempts, they finally succeeded in 1972, crafting the first batch of Japanese denim, called KD-8. As you might’ve guessed already, KD-8 denim was different from its American counterpart. For one, it used natural dye to give the fabric its signature colour. For another, Kurabo Mills used “outdated power looms”, which weave at ¼ of the power of a regular loom machine. Weaving on an old loom, allowed them to produce selvage fabric.*
Many things have changed over the decades, but Japanese denim industry has remained true to its materials and methods, perfecting them over time and today, it’s safe to say that denim-making is almost an art form in its own right.
Reet AusTM has been active in Japan for a few years and so it was probably just a question of time, until Reet found a partner there, who’d be ready to be introduced to the world of upcycling. We are extremely proud to introduce you to the collaboration between Reet AusTM and Japan Blue that has led to jeans upcycled from some of the best denim in the world, designed in Estonia, produced in Japan.
Nordic mentality and Eastern mindset have overlapping key-elements that make this collaboration and the resulting jeans so special – durability and simplicity. Those, who’ve put them on once, don’t want to take them off anymore. And to be fair, they don’t have to, cause the jeans will last.
Briefly about the product. Straight-cut. Grey. Raw denim. They're robust. Real. True to their origin. Think cowboys in Japanese countryside. Think Land Rover Defender. Think steak, raw and served with pepper and salt. No useless add-ons. Just a perfect pair of jeans, as God (or Reet) intended. SHOP here.
Come, visit our shop and put them on. If you like them, you’ll never want to take them off again. If you don’t… well – buy a T-shirt and let’s talk about the jeans you dream about.
*Selvage or selvedge, from the phase "self-edge", refers to the natural end of a roll of fabric which, when made into a pair of jeans, prevents unraveling of the material. The cost of producing selvage denim is more expensive since it can only be woven at a width of 31", about half the width of non-selvage denim, and is woven on old looms requiring more skill and adeptness.