Many years ago, when I first began my denim journey, I was a big fan of Stormy Blue’s jeans – a sub-label under the Japanese heritage clothing brand Pherrow’s, which has operated out of Tokyo since 1991. Their jeans were so whimsical – detailed yet humorous, vintage-inspired but gently poking fun at reproduction clothing at the same time.
Back in 2010, Pherrow’s discontinued Stormy Blue jeans, and started making their jeans under the Pherrow’s main brand. Along with this transition came an upgrade in materials and construct. The 421 was the top line model, and I bought a pair of 421 back in 2010 for collection purposes.
So here it is, a review 6 years late, but still very relevant, given the 421 and Pherrow’s other jeans are still going strong and available through retailers like Denimio. This year they celebrate a quarter century of making garments, so happy 25th birthday to Pherrow’s!
The 421 was sold as a slim straight model, but by today’s standards the fit would be considered a straight leg. Decent room in the top block and thighs, not too much taper from the knees down. The jeans are cut nicely, with no flaring in the thighs or the seat.
Not loose fitting by any means, but certainly nowhere as slim as many of the jeans available in 2016.
So, a fairly traditional straight cut inspired by late-1950s Levi’s jeans – no funny business here.
What we have here is a loom-state 13.75 oz denim custom made for Pherrow’s as an upgrade over the fabrics featured on their previous Stormy Blue jeans. Pherrow’s called it their “Neo-Vintage” denim.
This denim is subtle yet incredibly detailed and interesting – one of my favourites, even after collecting so many pairs!
The denim comes alive after Pherrow’s own “starch wash”, revealing a delicate uneveness and a whole variety of shuttle loom artifacts whilst preserving some of the rigidity and temper of raw denim. There is a moderate amount of warp slubbing and a mild amount of weft slubbing, resulting in a curious surface that almost looks like some form of broken twill (it is not)…see the photo above, where it seems the warp twill lines don’t even line up!
The denim is also very hairy, even after a couple of weeks wear, adding a slightly furry quality to the slubby texture.
The colour is blue in blue, an indigo which is at once inky dark and brilliant blue.
Details? This pair has a whole heap!
The leather patch is made of shrunken grain cowhide that washes very well. Apart from the old school design, you might notice the lot number, waist size and length are actually printed on 🙂
Pherrow’s buffalo horn arcuates are quite distinct, and I feel they are nicer looking than the design from other Japanese heritage brands. The dual-tone colouring is a nice touch too.
Keep in mind the arcuate stitch colour on the newer versions of the 421 are different to these 2010 first edition jeans – check this with your retailer!
Next is another unique feature on Pherrow’s jeans: the Stormy Blue cap located on the top left corner of the right side back-pocket.
The cap was designed to wear over time, the process of which has already begun on my pair even after just a couple of weeks wear.
Some people may not like this detail, but it is one of my all time favourite jeans features.
The button fly has a collection of 5 different buttons!!!!!
For my version one jeans, they were a combination of buttons featured on old Stormy Blue jeans, including the very rare Stormy Blue dead-stock button. Newer versions of the 421 tend not to have the Stormy Blue button.
The different buttons are all very high quality and give clues as to Pherrow’s military and workwear inspirations, have a look:
The rivets are no slouch either – the punch-thru external rivets are all completely customized:
The hidden rivets are also customized:
More crazy detailing include the mismatched pockets, randomly picked from Pherrow’s stock of flannel fabric used for their shirts:
The riveted coin pocket is placed high, and fairly usable if needed:
Finally, the selvedge line is customized with Stormy Blue’s signature yellow & white colourway (see photos of the woven tag above):
The construct is clean and, as you might be able to guess by now, detailed and playful.
I count 5 different thread colours in a variety of thicknesses. Specifically, look out for the signature yellow & white colourway:
The sewing in all aspects are tight and neat. The fly is no exception, and includes a funky olive green coloured button stitching, which also feature on the back-pocket bartacks:
Of course, the belt loops are neatly made and raised in the centre:
All the seams and edges are nicely finished, including the fantastic chain-stitch at the hems:
The front & back pockets are all decently sized, and hold wallets and phones quite comfortably without being over-sized.
The Pherrow’s 421 is one of my all time favourite jeans. I haven’t worn this pair much over the past 6 years because I like looking at it so much – it hangs next to my PC, and I stare at it every so often when I am writing for this blog 🙂
Even though the 421 may be a bit too much to handle for purists due to the insane amount of quirky details, this pair has the most personality and humour out of any jeans I have seen thus far, narrowly beating out Studio D’Artisan’s various special edition piggy jeans over the years. (Well, if pants could have humour…)
I feel happy and a little silly wearing the 421, and it is fantastic 😀
At 21,000 yen, you are getting a lot of pants for your money. I would say the quality of the denim and hardware, as well as the hardcore detailing and construct, allows the 421 to punch way above its price tier. I would actually compare the 421 favourably with other detail oriented jeans, for example from brands like Samurai.
So, even though Pherrow’s is relatively little known outside Japan and never really took off in the West despite introductions on the mynudies and Superfuture forums many years ago, I would still strongly encourage you to have a look at their jeans offerings.
Apart from the vintage inspired cuts, nowadays there are also slim and tapered options.
Would I recommend Pherrow’s?