Making our Denim in Okayama

Taiga Takahashi
Fig.1 The process of making our denim in Okayama, Japan

The Okayama prefecture in Western Japan (1) is home to a Sixteenth-Century castle dubbed "Crow Castle (2)

Taiga Takahashi

Okayama Castle is a Japanese castle in the city of Okayama in Okayama Prefecture in Japan

" for its imposing black exterior, Kōrakuen, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan (3)
Taiga Takahashi

The Three Great Gardens of Japan, also known as "the three most famous gardens in Japan" are considered to include Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, Koraku-en in Okayama and Kairaku-en in Mito.

, and the Japanese denim industry. (4)

The denim produced here came from a moment of desperation when Maruo, an exporter of school uniforms based in Kojima, slid into bankruptcy. Maruo took a contract with a shop in Tokyo's black market to earn much-needed extra funds, re-cutting discarded vintage American jeans to fit Japanese bodies. It was successful, but there was a dearth of supply, so the shop had the idea that Maruo could make their own jeans. This seemed like a wild move when almost no one in Okayama owned a pair of jeans, but by the 1970s, they had become the best-selling jeans in Japan – outdoing American brands.

The town of Kojima has acted as the country's design, sewing, and washing base for jeans ever since. Today a special jeans-themed bus takes tourists to "Jean Street," (5)

Taiga Takahashi

Kojima Jeans Street

where you can browse locally made denim and buy an indigo-coloured blueberry ice cream.

journal
Fig.2 
journal
Fig.3 
journal
Fig.4 
journal
Fig.5 
journal
Fig.6 
journal
Fig.7 

Our jeans are made in Okayama, where we use an old-fashioned shuttle loom (6)

Taiga Takahashi

Old-fashioned shuttle loom in the TT workshop

to weave selvedge denim which creates a strong and character-full textile that is unique –from the architecture of the thread and the spinning to the length of the slab. The denim is rope dyed, consisting of twisting the yarn into a rope that is swiftly dipped into indigo baths where the short dyeing time means the indigo does not fully penetrate the fibres. This process creates a ring-dyed yarn meaning our denim fades faster, in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Taiga Takahashi
Fig.8