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Japanese Indigo at Liberty Fair: Blue Blue Japan and Koromo


The second batch of discoveries from our jaunt through Liberty Fairs is indigo-drenched. Indigo is a native plant in Japan and the history of Indigo dye on the small eastern island runs deep, back to the 10th century. The technique boomed during the Edo period (1192-1333) due to the dye’s ability to cling well to cotton, the popular fabric of the lower classes at the time. By the early 1900′s almost 1400 acres were covered in indigo crop in Japan, now a mere 70 acres. The process of dyeing naturally is laborious, time-consuming and is carried on by skilled artisans. Traditionally Sukumo leaves, wheat bran, sake, hardwood ash and lime are combined in vats and fermented to produce the ocean hue. In Japanese culture the dye has been believed to contain protective properties from warning off insects and snakes in fields to sparing firemen burns. Out of the hundreds of booths at Liberty Fairs two stood out to us: Blue Blue Japan and Koromo.

Blue Blue Japan began in 1993 and designer Kenji Tsuji has been designing there since 2006. His designs usually contain bold, graphic interpretations of traditional Japanese motifs and patterns (waves, the sun, Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, etc.). When his pieces aren’t emblazoned with beautiful images they are simple and highlight the beauty of traditional indigo dye. Many of the shirts are made with a tie dye technique called Shibori or have a dip dyed ombre fade. The construction of the garments is based on farm work wear. You can find Blue Blue Japan products at Union Made Goods, Mr Porter, and Hickoree’s. Read more about Kenji at mrporter.com.

 

Blue Blue Japan

Designer Kenji Tsuji

Japanese patch jacket boro

 

embroidered bomber

Embroidered satin bomber in blue and black

Japanese wave park

Wave parka

Blue Blue Japan indigo ombre sweatshirt

Indigo ombre sweatshirt

Blue Blue Japan

 

Bue Blue Japan dyed shirt

 

Koromo also had our hearts racing and mouths gaping. Koromo’s designs are focused on traditional Japanese sewing and patching techniques. The collection shown at Liberty Fair was heavy on boro patchwork and sashiko stitching. In the words of the company, “Craftsmanship is a sensory realm, and just as a wild stitch can be more attractive than a neatly aligned seam the heart may throb more for rough nonconformity than for pristine fabric. The flavor found only in old items interwoven with the thread of time and the newest model loom that produces exactly what you want are both infinitely precious partners.” We couldn’t agree more.

 

Koromo boro jacket

Below this tattered patched jacket read a sign “This 100 year old fabric is Aizome (Indigo dyed cloth). The well used areas of the fabric are where it has been hand sewn over and over again. The clothes have been made out of this fabric as is. In times when things were scarce in Japan even a little fabric was considered precious. This preciousness is found in this cloth.”

Koromo Japanese denim

 

Koromo bamboo shirt Japanese menswear

 

Koromo Japanese denim blazer

 

Koromo Japanese indigo tie-dye baseball shirt

 

Koromo Japanese menswear

 

Japanese embroidered teeshirt

 

Koromo sashiko

Traditional Japanese stitching technique, sashiko, used on button detail.

Japanese menswear sashiko

 

Koromo boro ties

Last but not least, live shibori-style tie-dyeing at Liberty Fairs by Goodlife Clothing.

indigo dye

 

indigo tie-dye

 

indigo tie-dye

 

For more photos, style inspiration, and information on denim and indigo techniques check out the Denim Therapy Tumblr and Pinterest pages.

All photographs credited to the author.

Emily B. McIntosh

 

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Posted Sep 01 2015 in Denim Menswear » Denim News » Events

Studio Visit with PRPS Designer Donwan Harrell


We knew Mr.Harrell’s jeans long before we met the man inside of them. His love of preserving vintage denim brought many pairs of his into our hands. It was through this mutual passion that at long last we were able to meet Donwan. We recently had the opportunity to visit his studio in midtown and talk shop.

Harell’s strong taste for nostalgia makes him our kind of designer. He has amassed an impressive denim collection over the years, as well as stacks of Japanese denim magazines, action figures and American ephemera. He has a particular penchant for vintage Lee’s. While talking in his office we learned that JCPenney had its own selvedge brand called Ranch Craft that copycatted Lee’s. Thinking back to a time when department stores carried their own selvedge lines kind of blew our minds.

When we arrived at his office his crew was getting ready for trunk shows in Vegas. We got a glimpse of the new PRPS line at Liberty Fairs and we got an even better peek of the new PRPS Noir line at his studio. The washes Harrell designs are inspired by real pairs of old jeans. PRPS stands for purpose. Harrell strives to mimic the personality of aged jeans, mimicking the tiniest flecks of oil to stress marks all derived from the original purpose of workwear, from real movements of auto mechanics on their knees or painters on scaffolding.

prps don harrell
The designer in his element. 

PRPS Donwan Harell
PRPS headquarters in midtown.

 

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Posted Aug 31 2015 in Denim News » Interviews

Denim at Liberty Fair: Feltraiger, Kato and Fullcount


The Denim Therapy team’s Market Week tour continued at Liberty Fairs held at Pier 94. The space was enormous with over one hundred booths to cover. We scoured the long aisles and prioritized. Our top priority?  Denim. Our featured picks from the show are all Japanese and American brands including Feltraiger, Kato and Fullcount.

Feltraiger is a Brooklyn-based brand focused on making products you can pass down from generation to generation.  Their customer base ranges from hardcore motorcyclists to anyone inspired by American subcultures of the 20th century. Feltraiger’s new Core collection features their bestselling basics. We’re fans of the Destitute Vest in indigo available for Fall 2015.

Feltraiger motorcycle
Th co-founder’s motorcycle parked in front of the new collection.

Feltraiger denim vest
Destitute vest in indigo.

Kato jeans are made of Japanese denim, designed in Kyoto, and manufactured in Los Angeles. Kato was started by Hiroshi Kato in 1996 and has become one of our favorites. We favor the immaculate construction and details such as the diagonal belt loop and selvedge coin pocket. Highlights from the Spring 2016 line are the 13 oz. Raw Slim jean and a 7 oz Shawl Collar Blazer. Their leather patch has also been updated for the first time since the brand’s inception.

Kato Japanese denim

Kato Japanese denim

Kato japanese denim blazer
Perfect distressing detail on the hem of the shawl-style blazer lapel.

Fullcount denim is made in Okayama mills in Japan and was one of the first brands to start using Zimbabwe cotton back in 1992. Fullcount is here to stay, check out a peak of their Spring 2016 offerings below.

Fullcount Japanese denim\

Fullcount Japanese denim
Rust-looking wash on Fullcount jeans.

Fullcount Japanese denim

Fullcount zimbabwe chambray
Boro-like stitching detail on a chambray shirt.

All photos credited to the author.

—Emily B. McIntosh

 

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Posted Aug 24 2015 in Denim Menswear » Denim News » Events

NY Market Week: Edwin’s E.N.D. at Project


After the exciting commencement of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, came the rush of New York Market Week where designers and brands showed off their freshest designs and samples to retailers in showrooms across the city.

We started  our week at Project New York and our very first stop was E.N.D. denim. We had a brief glimpse of the E.N.D. denim line at the Denim Expo hosted by BPD Washhouse in June. E.N.D. is the new offshoot of the venerable Japanese denim brand Edwin (E.N.D. is an acronym of Edwin ‘N Denim). This sub-brand is so new that at this point that their digital footprint is almost nonexistent so we were lucky to have a quick chat with the designer, Yutaka Endo, and get a closer look at the collection at Project.

Highlights of the collection include denim at an entry-level price point, light chambray shirts, hoodies, and super soft polo shirts. All of the pieces feature one or two of E.N.D.’s signature motifs: the mizuhiki or the asanoha pattern. The mizuhiki knot is a bow traditionally used during gift-giving. The asanoha is an auspicious,  abstract hemp leaf pattern. Lookout for the release of E.N.D. in the next year and check back at the Denim Therapy blog for more details on the official launch. If you are in the Brooklyn area you can stop by NOS Boutique in Dumbo to buy a select assortment of E.N.D. teeshirts and men’s jeans.

E.N.D. edwin asanoha
Traditional asanoha pattern stitched into the pocket of a pair of men’s jeans.

japanese denim E.N.D. women's denim
Details on a pair of jeans from the women’s line, including a red mizuhiki symbol embroidered on back pocket and peach fabric detail at waist.

E.N.D. denim hoodie asanohara
Asanohara pattern on the hood of a dark indigo hoodie.

edwin-chambrayshirt

E.N.D. Edwin japanese denim chambray

E.N.D. denim mizuhiki

Edwin denim
The roots of E.N.D. Edwin jeans with classic arcuate.

Emily B. McIntosh

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Posted Jul 31 2015 in Denim News » Events » Reviews: Brand

What’s Cooler Than Jeans Distressed By Lions? Um, Nothing.


Leave it to Japan’s denim masters to come up with a massively inventive, super cool new way to get your jeans distressed. Throw ‘em in the lion’s den! Sound extreme? Kamine Zoo in Japan let the wildlife do their thing with jeans this summer. Whatever was left of the denim was sewn together into new pairs (because let’s face it, these wild cats are not just strategically distressing the knees). This was all part of a fundraising effort to raise money for the World Wildlife Foundation and the zoo itself. Cool, huh?

jeans-distressed-by-animals

 

See the finished jeans below:

zoo-jeans-designboom-01

zoo-jeans-designboom-02

zoo-jeans-designboom-03

Of course, you’re welcome to go toss your jeans in with the animals at the local zoo. Just don’t expect anyone else to go fetch them for you.

See the full story here and more photos of the distressing process here.

—DT Staff

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Posted Aug 25 2014 in Campaigns » Denim News

MiH Jeans Launches Shibori Dye Collaboration


MiH Jeans recently launched an exclusive shibori tye dye collaboration with LA based shibori specialist Niki Livingston on their website. Shibori dye, one of the most beautiful fabric treatments we’ve ever laid eyes on (and a favorite of the festival-going crowd) is an ancient Japanese dye technique used to give cloth a three dimensional form by folding, stitching, and twisting the material before it is sumberged. The result, as you can see, is gorgeous.

mih-shibori-1

“The MiH design team and Niki worked closely together to develop shibori-dyed pieces that reflect MiH’s British heritage and Niki’s laid-back, Californian attitude. After experimenting firstly with denim, we then chose tees, shirts and scarves to become the canvases for our indigo art. Scarf prints were influenced by water and shadows whilst tees and shirts were tied to create spots and stripes with ease and spontaneity.”

mih-shibori-2

Shop the limited edition collection at MiH Jeans.

—DT Staff

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Posted May 14 2014 in Denim News

Slimbs: The First American Slim Fit Jean


The guys of Denim Therapy (and whoever shops with them) know that it’s really hard (if not impossible) to find a pair of slim fit jeans that are comfortable, attractive, and priced reasonably. Slimbs, a fresh new denim brand that we’re super excited about, is prepared to change that. The founders of Slimbs spent over two years conferencing with some of the denim industry’s experts to narrow down the formula for their American slim fit jean, which is currently being developed in three styles: Selvage, Studio Blue, and Downtown Dark.

“Guys should feel comfortable, mentally and physically, when transitioning to a trendier style,” explains their Kickstarter campaign page, “We are here to put to rest the social stigma that surrounds slim fit jeans by introducing a new idea of slim – the American slim fit.”

slims-american-slim-fit-jeans (1)

Slimbs is prepared to deliver on the things that matter most, made from top quality Japanese denim at an amazing price that mass market jeans can’t compete with. Our favorite part? They’re also offering free repairs on every pair of jeans… because holes in the crotch aren’t in style, in any country. We’re proud to say we’ll be handling the repairs for Slimbs, right here at Denim Therapy.

slims-american-slim-fit-jeans (1)

Check out their Kickstarter campaign page and donate to score one of the first pairs of jeans, and help get this awesome new brand off the ground!

—DT Staff

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Posted May 06 2014 in Denim Fashion » Reviews: Brand

Kunna’s Denim Jackets, Inspired By Japanese Industrial Uniform #projectnyc


The roots of denim lay deep in the highly functional uniforms of industrial workers worldwide. We love when brands reach back into these roots and transform the concept into something modern and fashion-forward. Japanese denim brand Kunna showed us a heavily washed, soft-textured chambray jacket that does exactly this, featuring patch pockets and a relaxed fit. Pair this classic with your current summer looks to transition seamlessly into fall.

kunna, japanese denim, denim jacket, chambray jacket, menswear

kunna, japanese denim, denim jacket, chambray jacket, menswear

kunna, japanese denim, denim jacket, chambray jacket, menswear

kunna, japanese denim, denim jacket, chambray jacket, menswear

kunna, japanese denim, denim jacket, chambray jacket, menswear

Photos by Raffael Flores-Contreras.

—Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Jul 21 2013 in Denim Menswear

Denim Mythbusters: Did Japan Take US Selvedge Looms?


This Episode 2 of Denim Mythbusters, started with a simple question: Did Japan’s denim companies snatch up the United State’s shuttle looms to build superior selvedge? Check out the video below and the full post on The Crosby Press.

denim-myth-busters-2

Click the image above to watch the video.

—DT Staff

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Posted Mar 27 2013 in Ask the Denim Therapist » Denim Therapy

7 For All Mankind Releases Colored Selvedge Denim For Men


7 For All Mankind has announced a set of colored selvedge denim jeans and jackets for men that feature bright spring colors this season, including an understated-but-rich red and a classic royal blue. Check out the details and the new styles below.

“Spring 2013 is moving beyond traditional indigo and introducing fresh ways to offer selvage denim. Our grey selvage comes directly from Japan and features a beautiful slate-grey raw fabric. Pushing the envelope even one step further, 7FAM is offering Colored Selvage. We pigment spray the garments in shades of blue, red, and grey. The immense care put into the detailing of our selvage, from the raw material to the weaving, dying and stitching, creates a jean of exceptional quality and impeccable style.”

colored-denim-mens-selvedge-7fam

 

—DT Staff

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Posted Mar 04 2013 in Denim Menswear
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