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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Momotaro Jeans

I love that Pete Rose was the model for the label. Joking.
When one thinks of blue jeans, most of the world thinks of Levi Strauss and his world-famous denim pants. And I have to admit that aside from a very cool pair of sky blue, black and purple thick 6-inch vertical striped jeans by Gorilla Biscuit (see photo evidence at end of this blog), I have only really known about Levi's 514 Slim Fit which accentuated my already round butt.

That's the point of having jeans to wear (as opposed to jeans for work related activities) - it should look good.

Butt... leave it to Japan to create a pair of jeans that are full of cache and cost some cash rather simply looking good on you. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure these jeans look good on you... but in this case, regardless of one's genes, these jeans are a fashion accessory.   
Momotaro Jeans, are a brand of blue jeans manufactured by the parent company Japan Blue Group headquartered in Kojima-machi (Kojima Town), a small town in Okayama-shi (Okayama City) in Okayama-ken (Okayama Prefecture), Japan that is known as the setting of the famous Japanese fable Momotaro and now as the 'mecca of Japanese denim'.

Momotaro is the name of a hero from the story “Momotaro Densetsu”, and is known in English as “Peach Boy”. You can read the story HERE.

So... what's the deal with the blue jeans? Throwing around words like Mecca? Sounds like it might be interesting.

Momotaro Jeans are made via a traditional way to create a textile of high quality denim. They have gone nuts every once in a while and offered a really expensive pair of jeans, like their special Gold Label Momotaro Jeans which cost a mere ¥178,500 (~Cdn/US 2,000 or 1,500 Euros).

Gold Label Momotaro Jeans
I don't know about you, but for that kind of money, if I bought a pair, it better come with a very hot Dallas Cowboys cheerleader in them.

So... how do they dare charge this amount for a pair of jeans?

Using 100 per cent cotton from Zimbabwe--supposedly the best cotton in the world known for its ultra-smoothness and strength, it is taken through a time-consuming hand-dying process utilizing true indigo from natural plants. The dyed cotton is then woven by hand on an old loom that once belonged within Kyoto's Nishijin district and was used to weave silks into the fashionable kimono garment. At least this is true for the special Gold Label Momotaro Jeans.

The weaving process takes a full eight hours to produce one meter (three feet) of denim. The skilled artisans manufacture a textile that is both soft and flexible, but very hardy.  The needlework is also done by hand, with the key being fastening buttons made from pure silver.

A patch made of deer skin is engraved with artwork depicting Momotaro, has pocket lining dyed with natural indigo, and the back of the jeans are lined with silk, making each pair of $2,000 jeans an work of art made solely in Japan.

From start to finish, a pair of jeans takes three months to finish.

The G001-T jeans model Gold Label brand have a relaxed cut and are straight, high-waisted jeans.

Here's a video showing a pair of the Gold Label Momotaro Jeans being manufactured:


Now lest you worry that you will never be able to afford a pair of jeans like this, don't worry--Momotaro also offers three less-pricey lines of jeans: the higher end Copper Label; followed by Red Label and the Blue Label. All are still premium jeans, with a low-end price tag of Cdn/US $310 (~ ¥23,400) in Europe or even less if you know where to look, apparently $200 is a fair price in North America - however... fair warning, the low-end jeans may not be manufactured by a hand loom... it may be done by machine. Apparently machine-made denim loses some of the qualities that make a hand-woven pair of jeans special.

Sewing, by machine for the lower-end jeans are done on vintage Union Special machines. 

The G-003MB jeans model under the Copper Label is made of 14.7-ounce sanforized (pre-shrunk) Zimbabwe cotton denim. The patch is made of cow cantle skin on rivets. When the jeans are finished, they are set in flowing rover waters and then dried in the sun.

The MVPA01 customized jean model under the Red Label is slim fit and low-waist. It's indigo shade is characteristic for the Momotaro Jeans brand, featuring a patch made of lamb skin and pink denim stitching.

The A305-56 custom design jeans under the Blue Label are a relaxed in fit and have back strap as well as thick loops. The jeans are made from 13-ounce selvedge denim.

Japan Blue Group, around for about 20 years, actually consists of two companies: Rampuya is dedicated solely to high quality aizome, Japanese indigo dying; Collect manufactures and sells textiles.
Origianlly as Collect, the company manufactured and sold its denim to luxury brands overseas, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and others.

With many companies in Japan looking to take a product, copy it and lower the price, the company had a difficult time at first, so Collect became dedicated for purely denim manufacturing, and Rampuya was created to allow it to continue the artisan methods and sell to only people that understand high-quality denim products.

Then, in order to get a product in to the hands of people who care, Suwaki Masahiro (surname first), and the current vice-president of Japan Blue Group conceived of the Momotaro Jeans brand. Suwaki not only designs the jeans, but also designs the denim fabric of the jeans.

While the design was important, the fact is the company wanted the concept of high-quality denim to be the focal point.

To check out the Momotaro Jeans brands, visit www.japanblue.co.jp/momotaro.

By Andrew Joseph
Resplendent in purple, black & blue jeans with original J-League tee.
Purple, blue & black striped jeans DO get the girl - Noboko Kikuchi. Not a great shot of her, unfortunately.

1 comment:

  1. Obviously known for its exceptional quality Japanese Denim, the brand also is known for its printed tees, comfortable crew necks and hoodies, Evisu is putting its self forward as a way of life. Looking at the Spring Summer collection from Evisu, we're expecting much of the same. Bright coloured tees with prints, perfect for the summer to be worn with your favourite pair of Evisu jeans, cool zip up hoodies to wear on cooler evenings and light jackets perfect for the seasonal Spring to Summer transition.

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