Although just a small town in the prefecture of Okayama, Kojima has managed to play an integral role in the Japanese textile industry since the early twentieth century. Kojima’s textile production history stretches back hundreds of years, but it was in post WWII Japan that it became one of the largest producers of Japanese work wear and Japanese school uniforms. The first pair of Japanese jeans were produced in Kojima in the late 1960s.
In the span of a few decades, Japan has firmly established itself as one of the best denim producers in the world. As many of the American brands that inspired the first Japanese jeans chose to outsource their work overseas, the jean producers in Kojima chose to keep things local, refine their craft, and continue to use vintage looms and old techniques. The result is a culture of denim fanatics and an array of brands being headed up by true craftsman that care as much about their products as their most loyal customers.
Many of the brands in Kojima produce denim from vintage weaving machines known as shuttle looms. The result is a high quality denim fabric that is only half the width of the rolls produced by newer machines but one with a more durable finished edge, originally referred to as “self edge.”
Some denim houses still choose to indigo dye cotton by hand using the leaves from the indigo plant for their most premium jeans. This expensive and tedious process, as well as many of the other techniques used to make premium denim in Okayama has its roots in kimono production going back hundreds of years. The combination of old-world technique, with a modern sillouhette in mind has earned Kojima a place in denim history.