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So SLY! Japanese Denim Brand

You might default to Uniqlo, the East Asian H&M-esque favorite of stateside shoppers, when you hear the term “Japanese denim”. But today we’re branching out a bit further to a brand that hasn’t reached the US yet. It’s worth noting for its exciting campaigns, awesome fit, and exponential recent growth (which means it may not be long before we get to wear them all the time!). Ladies and gents, I introduce: SLY.


SLY is a division of Baroque Japan, which houses many popular labels that outfit teens and young adults. The trendy marketing campaigns and rampant representation in the most sought-after magazines have established them as a leader in mass market fashion. Their denim line averages at about $170 per pair of jeans, and according to their loyal customers, it’s worth every penny (or 100 yen coin).

Head designer Mizuki Ueda, who keeps record of her label’s events in an ultra-stylish blog, has created quite a kingdom since the days where she began as an entry-level SLY employee. One look at that blog, and her success is easily imagined—she’s a walking, talking SLY doll, and her company’s designs seem to come organically, from the roots of her own lifestyle.


Above: Mizuki Ueda

We had the chance to ask a few questions of a loyal SLY customer and American transplant Samantha Landau. In her time as a resident of Tokyo has become something of a whiz at shopping (and has had a run-in with Mizuki as well!).

DT: When did you get your first pair of SLY jeans? Can you describe the experience/the fit?

S: In November 2007 I pulled on an old pair of jeans that were ill-fitting, and realized I needed a new pair. Up to that point I hadn’t had a pair of jeans I’d really “loved” since middle school, so I didn’t know where to start with finding a new favorite. I was out shopping with a friend when she name-dropped SLY. I’d been to the SLY shop before for knits and dresses, but I hadn’t tried the jeans. Sure enough, when I tried on a pair, it was bliss. Everything fit! I fell in love with a pair of SLY’s then signature low-rise stretch jeans in an indigo wash with gold stiching– they hugged all the right places.

DT: Can you comment on SLY’s marketing? What’s so appealing about it?

There is an element of theater about it, while still focused on the wear-ability of the items. It emphasizes stylish femininity while using themes to encourage women to break out of their everyday lives with creative, bold, and colorful outfits. The blog helps to market the line too, with Mizuki’s own style representing the brand.


Above: Several years worth of SLY marketing campaigns & products.

DT:  How many SLY items do you own? How many of those are denim?

S: About twenty-two. A little over half of them are denim (shorts, skirts, and jeans). Their separates are all exciting, but their denim is especially worth the investment.

DT: SLY has seen exponential growth in the past few years, and certainly since you became a loyal customer. Do you foresee SLY coming to the states anytime soon?

S: SLY has shops in both Taiwan and Hong Kong, so it’s possible that they would try to open a shop in either NYC or LA in the near future. It depends on the world economy, of course, but I think the brand would do well here.

DT: Lastly, just for fun, you got to meet Mizuki in person during a random late night karaoke marathon in Tokyo–what was that like?

My impression of Mizuki was that although she’s extremely stylish and famous, she’s a very relaxed and kind person. She introduced herself by her first name, shook my hand and smiled. She sang two songs by the Japanese band Judy and Mary—in exactly the same voice as the singer! I was really impressed.

You can check out more of the line at their e-store, and follow Mizuki’s SLY adventures on her blog. We’ll see where this audacious, colorful brand goes in the future (and if it comes a little closer to the states!).

—Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Oct 28 2010 in Denim Fashion » Reviews: Product
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