Japanese fabrics, The universe of fabrics

Where are made best Jeans? In Japan (and Italy)

Jeans and Denims are certainly now the most universal garment. If most of jeans are now manufactured in China, where are made the very good jeans? Indeed, it’s not that easy to know, in fashion industry, where goods are produced: the “made in XXXX” label may actually mean “imported parts assembled in XXX”.

The words date from the 16th century. It relates to the cities of Genoa in Italy (where would Jeans come from), and Nimes in France (Denim means from Nimes in French). Genoa, beyond being an important port- was known for the quality of its regional fabrics (i.e. Liguria, for velvet and damask), and producing a solid canvas of linen and cotton, namely used for sails and work clothings. The city of Nimes -willing to compete with Genoa- developed another fabric, with a different weave (twill and not canvas), and in silk and linen. And indeed, twill is still the weave used for jeans. Then came Levi Strauss and Henry David Lee … many of us know what happened afterwards.

Where are produced the Levi’s jeans?

Good, it’s not a hidden information. And there are many, many factories producing for Levi’s, in the entire world. Though it could be written “made in the USA”, items are actually imported to the US. Normal and logical for such a brand.

Are there still jeans which are produced in the US?

In the US, like in many other countries, there is a demand and also a lobby for local production. So, yes, of course, there are jeans made in US, of very good quality. You may for instance have a look THERE for instance.

Though, several of them buy their fabrics in Japan:

  • Freenote,
  • Baldwin, possibly the most famous (re. Ellen Degeneres)
  • Todd Shelton, though focused on “made in US”
  • 3sixteen works with Kuroki Mills in Okayama, Japan
  • Chimala (designer is of Japanese origin)
  • Naked & Famous (Canadian brand)

Tom Ford talks about made in US, and do not precise where the fabrics are manufactured.

Where are produced high quality jeans?

As written above, this information is often hidden. Though, was is known, or rather what I know for sure:

Gucci’s jeans are fully manufactured in Italy.

Those from Saint laurent, back with Hedi Slimane, are also manufactured in Italy. Same for Acne.

In France, Asphalte and Renhsen are working with Japanese fabrics.

What about Japanese Jeans?

They are mainly producted in Kojima and Ibara (Okayama region), and Fukuyama (Hiroshima region).

Most famous is, of course, Uniqlo. Among others, Evisu (Jay Z talk about them), Japan Blue, Momotaro, Studio d’Artisan, …

For jeans amateurs: top quality is selvedge (as on picture). It means that the borders are weaved during process to avoid fraying, and not folded and sewn. This is the traditional method, but it was abandoned by Americans, in order to switch to faster and more cost efficient machines. And who bought the American machines on sale? Yes, the Japanese.

The Japanese work on cotton since the begining of Meiji era (end of 19th century). Japan has a huge know-how re. indigo dyeing …. Japan is the leader for zips (YKK) … there is a certain logic that Japan became such a valuable player in jeans’ manufacture and fashion.

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