For those of you who know what you’re doing, just skip this rant – go find something on Rakuten to buy.
For those of you who are new to Japanese artisan denim, you’re in the right place.
This is a buying guide for those who are new to the game – a series of questions & thought processes that should be going through your head, whether you are buying online or standing in a denim shop.
Ask yourself: “Do I really need a new pair of artisan-made Japanese raw selvedge denim?”
Silly question, of course you do – one can never have too many pairs of pants.
Seriously though, here are some initial considerations:
1. What brand is it?
There are many, many brands making many, many different jeans each with very different characteristics.
What is a good brand? It’s really personal opinion – each brand has their own identifying characters and production ethics – ask people who are in the know, whether it be the shopkeeper or forum experts, or me 😛
Some things are well known:
The Flat Head jeans fade faster & are newbie friendly.
Samurai Jeans fade quickly too, but are made with much heavier denim.
Denime has recently had a change in management, and rumour has it that the older products from the previous era are better.
Studio D’Artisan jeans take a long time to age, but have impeccable craftsmanship. Etc, etc, etc…
2. Where is it made & who made it?
You mean, other than Japan? *shock*
Yes, some Denime jeans and most Evisu jeans aren’t made in Japan. Studio D’Artisan military jackets are produced in China.
The list goes on – don’t assume, ask around, do your research.
3. What model is it?
Do your research, and again, ask around.
What are the differences in the 1000, 3000 or 5000 series produced by The Flat Head?
What is the difference between Sugar Cane’s Satobiki jeans and Union Star jeans?
The list goes on – find out exactly what you want!
4. Do you like the cut of the jeans?
Traditional straight? Slim straight? Slim? Bootcut? Low waist vs. high waist?
How much room is in the seat?
Find out which cut is best for your body type and the look you’re trying to pull off.
5. Do you like the denim fabric or the hue of the indigo?
This can only be learnt through handling many pairs.
Do you like slubby denim or a smoother weave?
What kind of weight do you prefer (14oz or 24oz?)
Is the colour to your liking?
What type of indigo/dye is used to dye the denim? (Natural indigo is an inappropriate choice for the beginner)
What method of dyeing was used?
6. Are the hardware, details & construction to your liking?
Are the rivets & buttons satisfactory?
Do you prefer button fly or zipper fly?
Are the pocket cloths sturdy?
Are there back pocket lining or yoke lining?
Is the leather patch any good?
Are the belt loops well constructed?
Are the seams securely locked?
Do you like the shape & placement of the pockets?
Turn the jeans inside-out & scrutinise the construction & stitching!
7. Most importantly, does the pair you want FIT you?
No good in buying a pair of limited edition Samurai Jeans on eBay for cheap if they’re 2 sizes too small.
Try them on or ask for measurements!!! Ask for the expected shrinkage after wash!!! Ask for the expected stretch in the waist after 20 to 30 wears!!!
Be sure to measure a pair of jeans that fit you, and use that measurement as a guide.
Take note of important details: Is the denim sanforised or unsanforised? Does the ‘waist’ of the jean actually sit at the waist or the hip?
8. Is the inseam/leg length OK?
Do you want to cuff/double cuff this pair of jeans? Or stack them? Or do you want them to fit just right?
Make sure you take the post-soak shrinkage into account!
Good retailers should provide a free hemming service using 100% cotton threads with an Union Special chainstitch machine.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a good idea what to buy 🙂
Again, if in doubt, ask people!