With numerous brands, a premium price point, and passionate jean aficionados, the Japanese denim industry can seem slightly overwhelming. Like many, I too was curious about these jeans and what set them apart from just a standard pair of denim. When I started my internship at Okayama Denim, I was given my first pair of Japanese denim, the Japan Blue JB0601’s (high tapered). Initially, it was a big change from my Joe’s. At 14oz. these jeans were stiff, had a rough texture, and felt very industrial. But this was clearly a quality product. The rich indigo color, sturdy rivets, and timeless design were all elements I immediately noticed. However, my favorite aspect was the cuffed leg, exposing the selvedge ID, highlighting the craftsmanship and quality.
I appreciated the construction of the jeans but it was hard to overcome such a vast departure from what I was used to. The first week or two was tough. The pockets were so tight that removing a phone or wallet became an exercise in patience, as I fumbled around to extract the contents. The ‘top block’ rode high, sometimes feeling as if I was being lifted by just my jeans. Even taking the jeans on or off, required unexpected effort because of the stiffness. But these initial challenges did not deter me, I was determined to break them in.
Over the past four months I have been consistently wearing my Japan Blue’s. Slowly they became less rigid, and wore to fit me perfectly. The waist, upper thigh area, and overall fit eventually tailored themselves. Visually, each fade, and tear told a story. Ultimately, these jeans became unique to me, furthering the appeal.
With such a strong build quality and clean design, these jeans could be worn in various situations. When the weather is cold these are my go-to jeans, given the thickness of the material. But I have also dressed them up a few times when attending a nice dinner or a show. Having a versatile pair of clothing, that can oscillate between rugged practicality and business casual is something I really enjoy.
As with many things in life, change can be hard. But working past the initial shock of trying something new, my overall experience owning a pair of premium denim was a positive one. For my next pair, I would probably get an even lighter oz. version and change up the color from standard blue. These jeans were very different from what I was used to, but that difference turned out to be a welcomed surprise. I still have much to learn about Japanese denim and the industry but I hope my experience can serve as a gateway for those curious or on the fence.
P.S - After months of interning with the OD team, I am excited to share a project that I have been penning for the last couple weeks! For now, here’s a sneak peek….
By Lincoln Liechti