Everybody has different expectations & likes/dislikes when it comes to denim – on the whole, I would say most (I use the word lightly here) Western hobbyists favour a smooth, heavy, tightly woven fabric which produces fast & intensely contrasting fading.
I, on the other hand, prefer the exact opposite.
My perfect pair of all-seasons jeans (well, all seasons as far as the south end of Australia is concerned) would be made from a slubby, 14 to 18 oz, loosely woven fabric which will produce nice blue hues and good vertical fading.
This is why one of my favourite brands is Oni Denim – their denim is pretty much spot-on what I’m looking for!
Some brands focus on dyeing techniques or heavier fabrics, while others concentrate on accurate reproductions or incorporating Japanese detailing.
Oni Denim, much to my delight, focuses on the denim fabric; more specifically, the texture/hand of the fabric.
The 1001-HM (Hand-Made), the latest offering from Oni Denim, arrived a few days ago!
Here’s a sneak peak with some macro shots.
The first thing I noticed was that the company has been renamed – they are no longer BS United!
Many people have asked in the past why they named the company BS United.
Well, the owner of Oni is the son of the founder of Canton, the oldest denim pants maker in Japan!
The ‘BS‘ in BS united refers to Big Stone, or Oishi in Japanese, the family name of the Canton founder.
But I guess they have now caught on to the fact that BS is short-hand for Bull Shit for most of their overseas customers, so the company name has been changed – they have renamed themselves O.N.International Co. Ltd!
Personally I think Oni Denim Co. would have been a better choice 😛
Anyway, back on topic.
The theme on Oni’s latest batch of jeans is the emphasis on ‘hand-made’ construction.
The concept is that before the 1920’s (i.e. before the likes of 43200G chain-stitch machines, etc), there were no machines that were specialised for each individual aspect of dungaree construction.
Everything was single-needle stitched, and this heavily involves the use of felled/French seams.
So, with these 1001-HM, a vintage single-stitch machine was used in putting the jeans together.
No chain stitch, no double chain-stitch, no bar-tacking, etc; just single needle stitching & felled seams.
Oni wanted to re-imagine how a pair of jeans in the 1890s would have been made.
Of course, knowing Oni, there are bound to be some odd twists in the final product – for the 1001HM, it’s the interesting way they reinforce the belt loops & back-pockets and the slight curve on the back-pocket opening which are very unique (and potentially off-putting for some, so I’ve been told).
I have to say, the stitchings are very neat & well done.
The hardware is impressive as well – simple, yet the texture of which blends in nicely with the slubby, rough denim.
I’m undecided on the back-pocket ‘arcuates’ – I much prefer their 1st generation arcuates, and although the 3rd generation arcuates on these 1001HM have been slimmed down from the 2nd generation ones on my Ghost Armor jeans, I’m still not 100% happy with them – I blame the Levi’s lawsuits 😦
But of course, the star of any Oni jeans is the denim itself – woven on THE vintage loom with the weave tension hand-adjusted every step of the way by the old master weaver himself (indeed, he is the Oni the label refers to!).
The master weaver uses a weave tension so low and a twisting force so high that every loom in his factory jammed up when he was attempting to create his ideal denim – except this loom, the last loom standing, the survivor loom, the little loom that could…
Other brands solve this problem by mixing shorter staple cotton types into the yarn to create slubbiness & irregularity in the fabric (think Samurai) – but not Oni…
The master weaver insists on using long staple cotton even though this makes the process much more difficult, because the resulting fabric would be more durable and comfortable in the long run (no cutting corners around this man, that’s why it’s Oni – the demon)!
And it is this same loom that still weaves Oni’s denim today (that’s why Oni releases so few models every year – the rate-limiting step is the speed with which the master weaver can churn out this fabric, and it’s pretty slow – only a few meters every hour).
The 1001-HM is made with an amazing 14oz fabric with a weave so loose & irregular that light can shine through at certain points when the denim is still raw.
And when you first soak or wash this denim, the denim tightens and the fabric comes to life – the beauty of slack weave!
The hand of this denim is unique & simply amazing 🙂
A small complaint though: I didn’t like how the patch looked as the deer leather got a bit crinkled & dried-out in their factory wash.
So I did some rescuing
The process (as shown in the photo below) is only 50% complete – I’ve managed to darken the leather and emphasise the grain even more.
More to come, including profile shots of the jeans as a whole & further updates on my re-working of the leather patch – stay tuned!