The vast majority of denim jeans I’ve reviewed on this blog have been Japanese, and with good reason: at this point, and for the past many years, Japan has been producing the best quality denim and the best quality jeans. Not many people in our hobby will debate this point anymore, especially now that the White Oak plant is no more.
However, as modernization continues in the rest of Asia, the jeans from other Asian nations are catching up in quality. I’ve reviewed a couple of pairs of Chinese jeans previously, and today I’m very happy to be looking at my first pair from Indonesia.
I’ve been keeping an eye out on the denim scene in South East Asia since 2011, and certainly Indonesia has produced a large share of denim brands. To be very honest though, I’d been a little hesitant to try a pair, as I’ve heard some negative experiences from other Western hobbyists regarding some of the popular Indonesian brands (mostly poor construct).
Yet, the maturity of Indonesian denim products is surely improving as the years have gone by. So, when WARPWEFTCo popped up on my radar, I knew it was time to test the waters and have a good look.
WARPWEFT Company was created by a true denim enthusiast. Herman, the man behind the brand, has been obsessing over jeans for some years now, and has taken inspiration from how brands like Pure Blue Japan have transformed the American denim dungaree. As such, WARPWEFTCo aims to produce the best possible pair of jeans within the Indonesian industry, and while focusing on vintage-style detailing, the aim is very much to create a versatile, modern denim garment.
After being active in its local market of Indonesia for many years, WARPWEFTCo has decided to implement a full scale international launch. As part of this launch, today, I’ll be taking an extra close look at the EX-101 jeans from WARPWEFTCo’s Exquisite series.
Design & Concept
To speak very plainly, the Exquisite series is WARPWEFTCo’s formal effort at producing their first export-oriented jeans, aimed at the Western market. Previously, they have done small runs through platforms such as Massdrop to experiment with creating jeans for Western hobbyists, with most sales over the past years restricted to the local Indonesian market. Now, the Exquisite series officially launches WARPWEFTCo as an international brand, 6 years after the creation of the company.
At launch, their slim straight fit is produced in three denim fabrics: EX-101, EX-201, and EX-301, being 14oz/18oz/21oz denims respectively. All of these denims are from Okayama in Japan, where much of Japan’s denim is woven.
The Exquisite series is not only differentiated from WARPWEFTCo’s other lines by the superior fabrics, but also the fact that the jeans are constructed to a higher level of specification using better machinery by some of the best tailors in Indonesia.
(Interesting point too is that the fabric flasher that come with each pair of jeans is actually a heavily washed version of the denim fabric used for that model.)
All in all, the Exquisite series is meant to compete with the usual suspects popular in the Western market at the $150 to $250 price range. I’ll further comment on this in my concluding thoughts.
The fit of the jeans is always a major point of concern for me when I purchase from Asian brands. I’m Australian, but I have Asian ancestry of course, yet my build is fairly large, more so than even many Australians. Therefore, the slimmer fits coming out of places like Japan, China and Indonesia are simply not designed for someone of my build – larger muscles in the upper legs and in the glutes. The Japanese are only recently cutting their fits for the Western market – a big reason I’m a fan of Tanuki Inc. – but South East Asian brands mostly haven’t done so yet, simply because they largely remain domestic operations.
WARPWEFTCo’s slim straight cut, however, is a bit different from other Indonesian cuts. Specifically, the slim straight fit here has a higher rise and wider thighs relative to waist size. This makes the fit much more friendly to larger built folks and most Western hobbyists.
The ideal fit for this slim straight cut is a narrower stove-pipe fit, but this is not true when worn by me. The thighs are relatively tighter than ideal (but not uncomfortable), resulting in the lower portions of the jeans looking comparatively wider. This is not a big problem however, as most people are not as chunky as me, so the slim straight effect of this cut should still hold true for most people.
This slim straight cut fits me very well in the hips and waist at true to size (TTS), and the thighs fit nicely too (better than most Japanese slim straights). The crotch has been cut very well, and there is no awkward sagging or creasing in this area.
Most Asian brands cut their rise much too short on their slimmer fits, but WARPWEFTCo has designed the rise very nicely, being taller than most, giving a true medium rise that is comfortable for everyday wear and does not leave me feeling ‘exposed’.
Further, the inseam comes at a post-soak length of approximately 35″, which is great for taller people, and allows me to double cuff!
I would recommend ordering TTS. Check the WARPWEFTCo website for measurements.
The EX-101 features a 14 oz unsanforised denim from one of the smaller mills in Okayama. The selvedge ID is pale pink.
This particular denim is made very interesting by a curious combination: heavily twisted American cotton yarn + short slubs + extra low tension weaving.
The result is a denim that is very slubby, featuring moderate sized slubs, with a variegated texture that is full of loom-chatter and a very unique feel, best described as crispy, almost……crunchy.
It is moderately knotty and mildly neppy, the texture created mostly by variations in slubbing.
The denim is also quite hairy, having a fuzzy appearance on the warp side, prominent when look at the fabric side-on.
You can probably feel the crunchiness of this denim by looking at how the fabric is sitting in the fit pics above. This fabric will take some breaking-in before it will settle down. The hand-feel is amazing; this denim won’t get boring anytime soon – certainly, the #6 super short slub yarns in both the warp and the weft have been integrated to good effect.
The warp is indigo rope-dyed to moderate depth. This is not a light coloured denim by any means, but neither is it inky dark. The indigo here is darker than Oni’s secret denim and Tanuki’s Z-denim, for example, but not as dark as, say, most of Studio D’Artisan’s offerings. I would say the blue is pretty pure, evidenced by the slight purple/red tinge.
This denim actually reminds me of some Nihon Menpu denims which Sugar Cane had used in the previous decade – I think it’s that interesting combination of variegation, slub and crispness that’s bringing back old memories.
Further, the denim really comes alive after the first soak!
I did a warm water soak and multiple warm rinses, trying to get some shrinkage out of the way.
The hairiness of the fabic is increased, and the variegation in slub is even more intense and concentrated.
The pocket fabrics and yoke linings are made of a very cool batik malam (starch resist dyeing) twill fabric. This twill cloth weighs in at 8 oz; it is hand-woven and also hand-dyed with natural indigo. Moderately thick and slightly crisp, these pocket-bags are some of the most unique I’ve seen.
It is in the details of the EX-101 that WARPWEFTCo differentiates itself further from other Indonesian denim makers. I’ll let the photos do most of the talking here.
The deer skin patch is embossed with the cotton flower, from which the denim production process begins.
The hardware, buttons and rivets, are all completely customised through YKK Japan.
The level of detailing is pretty amazing – I honestly didn’t expect this depth of customisation given the price tag.
All the hardware are solid copper, coated black. The filled buttons are especially nice, and feature the cotton flower motif:
The external rivets feature similar, but reversed, customisation. The cotton flower motif feature again on the backside.
Even the hidden rivets are customised.
The underlying copper peaking through the black coating is a really cool effect.
A black woven tag features on the coin pocket! 🙂
Here you can see the peekaboo selvedge too.
The continuous selvedge fly is one of the main construction features – this makes the fly incredibly resistant to wear, and also reduces bulk. The execution here is incredibly neat.
The yoke lining features the batik malam indigo fabric, which adds to the visual appeal. Yoke lining, whilst not essential by any means, is one of my favourite features on jeans, as it really adds to the styling of the jeans as a whole, from the owners perspective of course (given it is not visible from the outside).
The front pockets are made with the above mentioned twill cloth, and cut relatively deep, so that these pockets will easily accommodate a smart phone or a billfold wallet.
WARPWEFTCo’s back pockets are adorned with their signature arcuate, constructed with multi-stranded threading and sewn in one continuous motion.
This is a nice and balanced arcuate, and works to centre the pockets quite well.
The back pockets are also sized well, and will accommodate work-style wallets easily.
I did notice one flaw in that the cutting of the left and right back-pockets are not quite the same, at the bottom of the pockets.
The stitching throughout the jeans is very well done.
5 different main colours of threading in at least 3 sizes feature throughout, with a good mix of lock and chain-stitching.
The threads are poly-core cotton.
The chain-stitching is beefy where it counts, adding vintage character.
The lemon and tea colours of thread are mixed nicely.
Along the seams, there is also a very nice combination of blue and purple threads.
The inside of the jeans is clean and tidy. Threads are nicely tucked or snipped, and there is no clutter.
Even in areas where the sewing is dense and busy, the construct remains neat. Take the fly reinforcement, for example:
Or the waist-band:
The button-holes are densely sewn on both sides.
The belt loops are well made, and raised at the centre, facilitating some vintage-style aging down the track.
The top edge of the back pockets are raised also, which is a nice touch.
The chain-stitch at the hem is dense and evenly spaced from the rolled edges.
I will preface my discussion by stating that, for a $150 RRP pair of medium-weight jeans, the EX-101 from WARPWEFTCo has exceeded my expectations. The EX-101 features better construction, better materials and, dare I say it, more considered detailing than the vast majority of Japanese or American jeans at the $150 price point.
The construct is not yet at the standard of $300 Japanese jeans, evidenced by the slightly unequal back-pockets, but that would be an unrealistic expectation for the current price tier. I would say the EX-101 is better made, and represent better value, compared with general offerings from brands such as Naked & Famous or Japan Blue.
The denim fabric from Okayama utilized here is also much nicer compared to most lower tier Japanese brands and almost all American brands – it’s not a custom-made denim like Oni’s and Tanuki’s offerings, but does represent the very highest end of stock denim available anywhere, and is more interesting than most “proprietary Japanese denim” offered by most Western brands.
I must say, I came into this review with some prejudiced thinking against Indonesian denim brands. Happy to say, WARPWEFTCo has managed to prove me wrong.
The detailing of the EX-101 is surprisingly considerate, and I could tell that the designer of this pair of jeans is someone who has been studying Japanese jeans for some time – much of the detailing that differentiates top tier Japanese brands from lower tier brands or brands from outside of Japan are present, to a degree, on the EX-101. The EX-101 features no glaring aesthetic problems from my own perspective, and is certainly much more sleek and understated compared with most Indonesia jeans I’ve seen.
Indeed, the EX-101 does not look out of place in my denim collection, which is mostly Japanese. I am also going to say, controversial as this opinion may be, that WARPWEFTCo are doing the details a little better than most Chinese brands I’ve seen so far, in terms of Western preferences anyway. (To be fair, the Chinese brands don’t need to cater for Western hobbyists given the size and purchasing power of their domestic market.)
I’d recommend WARPWEFTCo’s EX-101 to quite a lot of folks. Unless you’re American and really want to buy American jeans, I’d recommend giving WARPWEFTCo a go. Further, if you want Japanese denim with a budget of <$200, the EX-101 provides one of the very best Japanese fabrics – much better compared with the stock and wide-loom Japanese denims utilised by most brands. The EX-101 is a great choice for a beginner’s journey into Japanese denim too.
However, if you have a huge legs or are too chubby, it might be better to go with a Western brand which focuses on fit, or to wait until WARPWEFTCo releases their tapered cut later this year. Also, if your budget is above $200, then WARPWEFTCo faces stiff competition from Japanese brands such as Oni (provided you purchase at the absolute cheapest prices from, say, Denimio), and I would venture that most hobbyists would want to stick with the tried & true Japanese brands.
Of course, my comment above regarding the $200+ price tier is a general one, as I believe that, at this point in time – unless you are purchasing from a maker like Roy or are ordering custom jeans – most people will be best served by buying from one of the better known Japanese brands rather than jeans from anywhere else.
I think, if you could see these EX-101 jeans in person, then most intermediate and advanced hobbyists would be able to discern that WARPWEFTCo’s EX-101 is superior in material & construct compared with most American, European and lower-tier Japanese jeans. Provided that people can overcome their initial prejudices against South East Asian products, then WARPWEFTCo would be a strong contender in the sub-$200 jeans market.
Moving forward, the major challenge I see for WARPWEFTCo would be how they’d compete with the mid-tier Japanese brands, jeans from which are usually priced in the $200 to $300 range if purchased directly from Japan. Developing better fitting cuts for the Western physique would be one avenue of approach, and indeed there is a tapered cut which is being developed by WARPWEFTCo as I type this review. Blending some more traditional Indonesian craft techniques into jeans making may be another point of differentiation, and certainly the batik malam indigo pocket cloth & lining used on the EX-101 is a great example of the potential of this approach.
All in all, if your budget is under $200 USD, you really must have a look at WARPWEFT Company’s EX-101 – you’ll be getting some of the very best detailing, construction and denim in that price tier.
Definitely check out their website here.