10 denimheads explain their passion for japanese raw denim
10 denimheads explain their passion for japanese raw denim
We at Denimio love our costumers more than anything else in the world; yes, even more than denim itself: without you it’s just a piece of cloth, you turn the fabric into a canvas, a piece of art and we enjoy every minute of it. Today, we would like to introduce you ten denimheads from all over the world. We’ve asked them a simple question: What fuels you passion for denim, how did you get into the game?
Please show these guys some love and follow them on instagram, check out their blogs, or visit their museums (ok, Ruedi is the only one who runs a museum, but it’s a jeans museum for crying out loud! So whenever you’re in Zurich, a visit is a MUST for sure!)
Here are the 10 (OK.. 9!) denimheads sharing their passion.
Ruedi (@swissjeansfreak) – Switzerland
I was born in 1959 and grew up in a poor 12 person family in a little mountain village of merely 40 people. After we’ve received two pairs of Levi’s jeans in a cloth donation, I turned into a raw denim addict – that happened in 1973, so over 40 years ago! My passion for denim continuously grew and grew. After collecting jeans for almost 30 years, I opened a little museum in 2001. We’ve collected over 14000 jeans and denim jackets from the 1950-ies until the present day – I never stopped collecting myself and any donations to the jeans museum are more than welcome. Ideally, we want to showcase the denim in its raw state next to a well worn in pair.
With showing people the power of natural denim evolution we wanna keep the raw denim spirit alive.
I personally never ever wash or soak my raw denim gear since I love the raw denim color tone much more them the royal blue color tone you get after first washing – but that’s just me, all ways of wearing denim are great ways of wearing denim!
I wear my jeans oversized so there’s space in winter for another old jeans as long johns when I’m skiing for instance.
My way of breaking in raw denim is very specific and organised: I always start breaking in a new pair of raw denim when the cold season start and wear them in 3 stages:
1. In the Office (when they’re new and crispy, until they start to look well worn in)
2. For outdoor-activities such as skiing or hiking (when they are not suitable for the workspace any more)
3. Construction sites and forest work (they’re still jeans… in the end it’s work wear!)
I love all kinds of denim from all over the world, but the Japanese do jeans really, really well. The construction is spot on and the fabrics are great.
Keep in touch and keep it raw!
Colin (@denimcutter) – Canada
I started to delve into raw denim in 2008. At the time, I didn’t understand the meaning of sanforization or how to size properly, all I knew was to wear the garment indefinitely while abstaining from washing for as long as possible. I was naïve to everything that raw denim had to offer.
Initially, the cost seemed a little out of my reach – 299 bones for a raw selvedge pair of Nudies – seemed outrageous! But it had peeked my interest too much to pass it up so, thankfully, I had a nice bankroll building on PokerStars and found my spending outlet. And so it began.
As I learned more about raw denim and everything it entailed, it grew into a passion and I talked to everyone about it. My family thought it was barbaric, but I convinced many friends to give the raw denim concept a try. It was through the evolution of a friend’s pair of Samurai’s that I was exposed to something that became an infatuation for me – Japanese denim.
As someone who has always been active and thrives off of anything that makes you sweat, I easily recognized the opportunity to meld my two passions and create my “masterpiece”. Fading raw denim is an art form. I’ve never been very talented when it comes to art, but with raw denim the more calories I burned, the more exceptional my denim became.
As a highlight in my denim experiences, my Pure Blue Japan’s and I were selected as the winner of Denimio’s first raw denim contest. The sweat, time, and hard wear had paid off; I became one of few international customers to visit the Denimio brick and mortar location – a stunning trove of Japanese denim.
Having traveled to Japan twice, I strongly urge anyone reading to explore the Japanese culture, which embodies elegance, respect, and the pursuit of perfection. These qualities are translated into their jean making process, helping me justify the price tag every time I purchase a new pair of Japanese selvedge denim. With each new pair, I begin my personal pursuit of perfection. Having witnessed the jean making process just reinforced why Japanese denim is at the forefront of the premium denim industry.
Victor (@selvedge1) – United States
I started with my first pair of APCs about 11 years ago, and it was all fueled by the desire to find a pair of jeans that fit well but also looked great. Back then the choices were a lot more limited, and quality raw denim was far more underground. I had only worn shrink to fit 501's up until then. Being a pretty slim guy, the proportions felt a bit off. The quest started brought me online, when I lurked superfuture and StyleForum... and that's where I learned all about APC, Nudies, and the then-obscure Japanese denim. That was the rabbit hole in the quest for the perfect pair.
My first Japanese pair of jeans were Skull Jeans I think, and I'm still a huge fan of them with Texas Cotton, which were all the rage in 2008. Still hard to beat their amazing contrasty fades. The quest continued as interesting fabrics became more available (like slubby Pure Blue Japan double indigo denim), and that America now has competitive Made-in-the-USA denim brands.
It's an exciting time to be a part of this movement to wear something that doubles as art, with personalized fades representing your life. The quality of well crafted selvedge denim is also far more durable than mass manufactured pre-distressed jeans. And finally, I've found jeans that fit my odd proportions.
But more recently, being able to connect with the community via Instagram has been amazing. Getting to meet other genuine awesome people sharing the same interests is something we should all do more often. Since I get to travel a bunch, I get a better-chance-than-most of meeting up with others. And I'm looking forward to more of that!
Greg (@denimhound) – United States
My love of denim began in the 80’s. I met a kid in elementary school who always wore a black t-shirt, slim dark indigo Levis, black and white Converse All Star’s and a digital watch. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a kid wear a watch …it was the first time I saw a pair of Levis. He always had his walkman on and never talked to anyone. He was the coolest kid I’d ever seen.
[As you can see on Instagram or his blog (http://thedenimhound.com/), Greg owns an impressive denim collection from all over the world, his favorite pair at the moment is PBJ KS-013. And here’s why:] First, the denim fabric. I love slubby denim with a lot of hair and nep. This pair has the perfect balance of all three, as well as a beautiful irregular indigo dye with light and dark tones. I've been really gravitating more towards the vintage blue denim over the deep dark indigo variety. Second is the construction. PBJ is well known as one of the masters of sewing and construction. You can feel how tight and solid the stitching is just by holding a pair. At this point, I can almost tell I'm holding a pair of PBJ's with my eyes closed. Third is the fit, a great slim fit with a slight taper. If the taper were a bit stronger I'd say they would be the perfect cut.
David (@digglebaum) – United States
I've always liked denim but being from Oklahoma I grew tired of Levi's and Wranglers everywhere around me and slowly started to branch out into "fashion" denim brands like Diesel and Seven for all Mankind. I liked those brands because they used better denim than I was used to. After about two years, however, I felt that those brands were just okay and I began to search for something better. I began my online research into everything denim.
I don't remember the website I was on, it was some denim forum (perhaps it was Superfuture) but I remember seeing this glorious faded pair of Imperial Denim and was blown away. I read through the forum and started noticing more and more comments about Japanese denim: I was hooked. I did more research and found /r/rawdenim on Reddit, I couldn't believe that I'd never heard of raw Japanese denim before! Now I had so much information, it was almost overwhelming.
Since I lived in Oklahoma I assumed that there were no places around me that sold raw denim, but my local boutique shop sold Rag and Bone so I picked up a pair of non selvedge Olive resin RB15x. I thought I wouldn't be able to fade them since they weren't raw but after only six months they were looking really good with honeycombs and all. Little did I know that there is a local shop in Oklahoma City called Blue7 that stocks Naked and Famous, Railcar, etc., where I was able to see first hand different brands and textures. I picked up a pair of Big Slub Naked and Famous. Armed with all of this new knowledge of the raw denim scene I wanted and needed to get my fix of the real deal from Japan. When I first began my journey it was a bit overwhelming I admit, but I really did find what I was looking for in the end. Just took a while to ultimately find it.
My favorite aspect of raw denim is the texture: I love slubby denim - the look of it and (more importantly) the way it feels . No matter what the weight is, heavy or light, I just love how slubby denim feels. I'm always touching and feeling my jeans (I'm sure I look crazy!). I don't care though - as long as I can feel that slubby goodness, it's almost reassuring 😉
Mike (@indigoshrimp) – Australia
Hi, this is Mike!
You might know me as mikecch from the various denim forums, or indigoshrimp – which is a small blog I run in my spare time.
I am a medical practitioner in Australia, though I am originally from Taiwan.
I have been a denim hobbyist since I was 17 years old. Unlike most guys who had their start with Nudies or Levi's, my first pairs of raw denim were Edwin jeans.
Since that time, I mostly haven't strayed too far from Japanese denims and yet my engagement with denim has been constantly changing.
In my earlier days - wearing mostly Edwin, Sugar Cane and Samurai – I mostly cared about fading the denim and, to be honest, simply wanted to be doing fashion differently from my peers.
I was chasing the “perfect” fades, and even wore my jeans as pyjamas during summer.
During the past few years this hobby has taken me down several interesting paths, everything from collecting military vintage/reproduction to cosplaying as a railroad conductor.
Although two constants have grown out of my love for denim – an interest in leather, and the indigoshrimp blog.
The blog was my attempt at keeping a journal for myself, and also a means of networking with other denim lovers from around the world.
Over the years I have had the good fortune of connecting with various hobbyists and denim/leather makers through indigoshrimp, and even had the opportunity to launch a few collaboration projects with leather craftsmen.
For a couple of years, I had to take a hiatus from the social aspect of this hobby due to starting work as a doctor. I am back now, and I'm just starting to catch up with the going-ons over the past few years.
Much has changed, and it's good to see Japan-based retailers like Denimio taking an active approach in catering for overseas hobbyists.
Nowadays, denim & leather are much more than just clothes or fades to me...they've become part of my way of life. Not simply a lifestyle, but an outlook I suppose – part wabi sabi, part mindful, and always curious – which extends into every facet of my life.
When you have time, check up with me on indigoshrimp (or even Instagram, which I recently joined); maybe even send me some cool photos to blog!
There are a couple of very exciting leather projects that I will be building up in the next few months, and the blog will certainly be updated with reviews and other denim related posts.
Until next time, keep bleeding indigo 🙂
Johan (@Johanmalik80) – Indonesia
Denim; that word that used to primarily relate to blue-collar workers and cowboy figures from the 1950s. As the time went by, denim became associated much more with an urban lifestyle – I myself, chose denim as my lifestyle. I have been into denim for 16 years since my tertiary study. This hobby of mine started when I noticed a manly looking biker with his dope faded denim. It was so cool that it led me to buy my first pair of Redwing boots. The denim addiction followed shortly.
I am a business man who works in an oil, gas, and gold mining company. As you can probably imagine, denim is pretty common in my workplace - every worker wears them as they were originally meant to be worn: exposed to dirt and mud and hard work.
I have plenty of denim in my collection, however, my current favorite pairs are The Flat Head's 5002 and ONI 517xx. My Flat Head is 1 year and 1 month old, unsoaked. And my ONI are merely 1.5 month old and ‘wow’, the fades that are starting to show!
Getting dirty is a must when working in the mining industry and surprisingly that has built the unique character of my denim. The fabric starts to reflect your lifestyle and routine; the color of your denim will be yellow-ish after a soak or wash if you are often exposed to dirt. Don’t worry, whatever it is, a good pair of jeans will definitely get some cool fades. Whether it be pure indigo, deep indigo or natural indigo, they will fade beautifully and uniquely as time goes by. This is the main thing! Denim will follow your figure and lifestyle.
Selvedge denim was not really well known in Indonesia until recently (the trend begun just 5-8 years ago). As demand increases, however, people have started to produce and offer better selvedge denim in the local market. But alas, Japan is still one step ahead in producing the world's best denim.
I personally prefer tight cuts and slightly tapered selvedge denim. I've experienced a lot and have had many great memories with denim. There are so many memories of me wearing them on my business journeys. Now, it’s your turn to pick the denim to match your character, whether it will be more vintage or something more trendy. Whatever you do, stay raw!
Edward (@edwardbear1974) – United Kingdom
Hi, my name is Ed and I’m a denim addict! There, I’ve said it, but unlike many addictions which that type of introduction is used for, I see my obsession with denim as overwhelmingly positive. I feel I belong to a worldwide tribe of fellow denim addicts, a movement which is inclusive and passionate about an item with such humble roots. I have made virtual friends through talking on forums and Instagram, sharing our love of the ubiquitous pair of jeans which transcends culture, language and countries- we all appreciate what a denim head means and therefore share a common purpose- to rock the best selvedge and fit we can, to obtain the grail like fades whether high contrast or vintage and to discuss and compare the minutiae of details on different brands and different models.
So where did this love of denim come from- was it nature or nurture or both? As a small child I always liked wearing jeans (back then either Levi’s or Wranglers) and looking at old pictures I seemed to favour the classic Americana look, copied from the heroes of my favourite childhood US shows. From my early teens I got into ‘designer’ jeans and by the late 1990’s had proudly purchased my first pair of Japanese selvedge jeans- the iconic Evisu with big cuffs and white gulls. From there it’s been an evolving art, graduating from Nudies and Edwins to the more premium league of the Japanese heavyweights- Fullcount, Denime, Momotaro, Eternal to name just a few. My first trip to Japan in 2010 was another catalyst, as was my appreciation history- how the Japanese saved American style.
I have around 30 pairs on my rail, and choosing my favourite pair is almost impossible. My MiJ Evisu No.1 2000s with Tokyo blue handprinted gulls will always be a fave, as will my well worn Eternal 811s or Denime 66. However, my go to brand has to be Fullcount- I currently have 6 pairs, mainly 0105 and 1101 cut (some WW2 editions) as well as the obligatory 1108. My picture is my 0105XX which has been pretty much a daily wear for the past year, rotated with some 1101XX and currently my 1100-15 WW2. Do I need more jeans? No. Do I want more jeans? Yes. As other denim addicts will confirm, ‘need’ doesn’t come into it, it’s all about wanting the next model, the next limited edition. So, there we have it, my name is Ed, and I’m a denim addict.
Alex (@denimio_shop) – Japan
On a scale of 1 to 10, from least to most fashion-conscious you could consider me about an 8. That, however, is not the main reason why I am so into denim. The whole "favorite pair of jeans" idea, is an actual thing. Jeans have a human quality that goes beyond the fabric itself. Maybe that's why jeans are the most worn item of clothing in the world or the item of clothing with the most songs written about (in multiple languages!). Jeans change with you and you change with them. They are with you so often that they inevitably go through important events with you: first dates, birthdays, breakups, journeys, countless photographs, sickness and health, happy and sad moments, always present as a witness and companion. As a result, they hold more sentimental value than any other item of clothing a person can have. Anyone who's had that one favorite pair of jeans, for example, knows that the moment you have to throw them away, the moment you can't wear that pair anymore, is a surprisingly sentimental moment. Their everyday wear utility combined with the emotional connection that I develop with a well-worn pair is why I love denim. They are part of me. And because they are a part of me I typically buy jeans that speak to me: whether it's the fabric, the details, the fit, the aura around a particular brand or any combination thereof, I pick a pair because of my personal idiosyncrasies at a given point in my life. I don't care if you like them, I don't care whether you would wear them, I don't care how you would wear them if you had them. They're simply and beautifully just me.
You (@whateveryourinstagramaccountisnamed) – worldwide
That leaves only person: You! We want to know what fuels your passion for denim. We want to see your pics, watch your vids, read your stories! Share, share, share! It all comes down to you.
Send your personal denim experience to [email protected], we can't wait to read them!