The first time I held a pair of Evisu jeans was back in 1997 or was it 1998? I was shopping at Barney’s with a friend in town from Hong Kong and he really wanted to buy a pair. To give you an idea of who the consumer at the time was would best be described as a die-hard fashionista or taste-maker who had a passion for well crafted furniture, clothing and accessories, and of course, the finances to pay the insane $200+ price tag for a pair of Evisu jeans. He was all that and beyond.
At the time, decadence was all around me and these jeans, made of the best quality selvage denim, represented the new era that premium denim was about to ignite. Evisu was about to explode here in the US, already a huge hit in Japan and Europe, and with that big red logo, reminiscent of a squiggled McDonald sign, you stood out like a bottle of Crystal in a sea of Korbels.
Following is a press release emailed to Denim Therapy from Evisu’s media rep:
Evisu is now re-launching its brand with a new collection for men and women (from $150 to $700 a pair). The collection pays homage to the fascinating and forgotten roots of the brand.
The re-launch of Evisu will focus on the quality, craftsmanship, and authenticity that made them the IT jeans in late-90s, when there was a long waiting list for the 12 pairs that Barneys received each month. Evisu was also the first denim brand to sell in mass for over $100 a pair.
The New Collections
- Evisu??™s new collection will be available exclusively at Barneys in November 09 – And starting in January at Fred Segal.
- The re-launch initially includes 3 collections for men and women with no 2 pairs of jeans alike:
o Evisu Genes ($150 to $198)
o Evisu ($198 to $265)
o Private Stock: ($600-$700) Replica quality, one-of-a-kind pieces, hand painted logo and numbered. For this line craftsmen use various techniques to create unique detailing (e.g. burns using cigarette lighters, hand painted buttons etc.)
- Cleaner construction contrasts with the look of distressed hand painted logos that were a core vision of Evisu??™s creator Hidehiko Yamane.
- The logo of the brand has also gone through a progression resulting in a more subtle form.
???Replica Movement hand-painted logos and start of premium denim
- In 1980s, vintage denim was sought by collectors around the world. Especially in Japan, vintage denim enthusiasts, or ???otakus???, obsessively searched for methods to produce an exact replica of vintage jeans down to the minute details.
- In 1988, Evisu??™s founder Hidehiko Yamane, a trained tailor, managed to find and buy a 1950s American shuttle loom capable of weaving 40 meters per day and produced exact replicas of vintage jeans. His production of only 12 garments per week, started the ???Replica Movement???.
Evisu as a brand is tied to origins of denim in many fascinating ways beyond the meticulous attention to quality and detail.
- In Japanese Levis is pronounced ???Levisu???. Evisu was originally known as Evis jeans, after the Japanese god of prosperity, and later became ???Evisu???.
- The hand painted Evisu logo has its roots in vintage jeans as well. In 1944 (during World War II), the US Government banned the use of non-essential materials that could be better utilized in war efforts, and as a result this was the only year that Levi??™s screen printed the arcuate logo on the back pocket of its jeans. Over years these printed arcuates became distressed, chipped and faded, and this Levi??™s 501 from 1944 became the most valuable and collectible jean.
- That influenced Hidehiko Yamane to hand-paint the logo on the back pocket of its jeans ??“ which like the most valuable vintage jeans would get chipped and distressed over time. The logo inspired by the American Eagle and the Levis arcuate is synonymous with the Evisu brand today.
Best Quality Denim & Unique Process
Besides using the best Selvedge denim in the world, Evisu jeans go through a ???dry??? and ???wet??? process??? that gives each pair its unique look and can take upto one week for a pair to be finally ready.
· The dry process is completed by hand: The uniqueness of each garment is created during the dry process as a craftsman hand-sands one piece at a time on an apparatus called a ???Sanding Tandem??? and uses hand applied scrapping tools to create vintage effects, forgoing molds or more conventional methods.
· Wet process is completed in washing machines. Resin, color treatments and other liquids are applied. The jeans are then put into a bath with an enzyme or stone wash giving each pair its unique look and feel.
Each Pair Tells a Unique Story
Evisu is bringing back the tradition of jeans that tell a story as living testimonial to the wearer??™s many life experiences with inspiration coming from different places:
· Tateoti book (???the bible of Evisu brand and its histroy) with archive images of Evisu jeans from raw to the worn state tracking the evolving nature of each unique pair.
· Inspiration for one piece came from an old pair of Evisu jeans that Scott Morrison found in a flea market. Previously owned by a painter, they had paint stains, key and knife imprints and marks from heavy labor.
So, look out for the new collection at Barney’s, November 9th and at Fred Segal in January and let us know what you think. From the sneak peek of the new collection, looks like they are toning it down with the logo and getting back to focusing on what a majority of denim lovers are looking for; a back to basics vintage vibe made of quality selvage denim, free of all the loud bling. We’re over the club kid overdone pockets, at least I sure as hell am!
–Nikki Cho Russo