Okayama Denim x Japan Blue – ODJB016 Dog Days jeans

Welcome back to the blog!

Today, we’ll be rounding off our series looking at summer jeans by examining a special pair of ultra light weight jeans – the soon to be release ODJB016 “Dog Days” 10 oz nep selvedge jeans.

These Dog Days jeans are the latest collaboration between the retailer Okayama Denim and JapanBlue Co.’s Japan Blue label.

By a margin of 2 oz, these are the lightest pair of jeans I’ve reviewed on this blog yet, and very much a hot weather pair of jeans.

Without further delay, let’s check out the substance of these jeans. As always, my thoughts and discussions are at the end.


The Cut

The ODJB016 features a brand new high tapered style cut!

This “#2 Tapered” cut is introduced in Japan Blue’s new line of Circle jeans, and the Dog Days will represent its introduction to the Western market.

This #2 Tapered cut, it seems to me, has been modified from Japan Blue’s origin High Tapered cut to suit beefier builds, adding more space in the top block compared with the standard HT cut.

The rise is medium-high.

There is ample room in the waist and seat – expanded from the original cut, but not loose.

The thighs have been expanded.

From the knee down, the taper is strong, finishing with narrowed (18 cm) hems.

This could perhaps be considered a relaxed high tapered cut, fitted for meatier folks.

All in all, a much appreciated update to Japan Blue’s collection of cuts. Certainly, ergonomic, and easily worn for work and play.


The Denim

This new 10 oz nep denim is the star of the show.

Shuttle-loomed, gently sanforised and rather crispy to start, the 10 oz weight would be considered to be very light by today’s standards. In fact, it’s been more than 70 years since denim in the 8 to 10 oz range were the standard for jeans.

Whilst most denim in this weight range would be rather plain compared to modern Japanese fabrics, the Dog Days denim scratches the itch with four major features: nep, knots, loom chatter and indigo tone.

At 10 oz, when tested manually, this denim definitely feels much thinner compared to 14 oz + fabrics. There is, of course, less body between the fingers, and you could mistake it for a shirting denim – thinner, somewhat dry, crispy in a way that thicker denims cannot be. However, what is obvious is that this denim is rather densely woven, despite the low tension necessary to create the interesting textile features.

The warp face is textured in an unusual way. On the Dog Days denim, neps and knots have been dialed up to 11, this being the neppiest and knottiest denim I’ve seen. Sure, Collect Mills has released some neppy and knotty affairs at heavier weights in the past, but nothing as intense as this denim.

There is quite significant slubbing and loom chatter too, creating a fairly strong horizontal texture, though this is initially hard to appreciate due to the neps catching the eye.

After soaking, all the textural details are further accentuated as the neps & knots are raised and expanded during contact with water……sprouting, if you would. The loom chatter – weave irregularities – are easier to see, and the knots become more apparent.

The weft face is intensely textured, due to the fact that the neps and knots are also visible on the weft side, to a smaller degree, and the 2 x 1 weave structure of the denim.

From the weft side, this fabric resembles an old fashioned chambray somewhat. The feeling is bumpy but gentle on the skin – this denim does not scratch or catch any hair.

The retro plain-look selvedge is a nice touch.

The warp yarns are rope-dyed with indigo.

The indigo tone is interesting to observe on this denim. Light blue under natural light, but dark with grey tones under incandescent lighting.

I’ve included a photo with the Dog Days denim next to Oni’s Kiraku denim, which has a classic natural indigo tone, for comparison.

Overall, the Dog Days denim has an extremely variegated and organic texture. Little cotton mushrooms sprouting from these pants for sure.


The Details

The ODJB016 has been kitted out as a pair of collaboration jeans should!

The thick leather patch is indigo dyed.

The indigo does crock, and has begun to chip away after my weeks of hiking around Europe.

The hardware is brass, with custom embossing on both sides.

The 5 button fly features Japan Blue’s doughnut buttons.

The rivets are punch-thru, and also customised.

The coin pocket features peek-a-boo selvedge.

The pocket cloth features a new twill fabric which has been discharge printed with indigo.

The belt loops are thinner, but raised.

The sewing has been completed with tonal threads throughout.

This style of stitching is modern, with smaller and denser caliber of single and chain-stitching applied.

Bar-tack reinforcements are used in the traditional areas, including belt loop and back pocket attachments.

There are no hidden rivets.

The button holes are densely sewn.

The fly and inseam are neatly locked.

Finally, the hems are chain-stitched tonally too.


My Thoughts

The phrase ‘dog days’ has its roots in Greek essayist Plutarch’s ‘hēmerai kynades’, describing peak summer, as, in that part of the world, the Dog Star rises with our star during the hottest days. Certainly, then, the ODJB016 Dog Days jeans were based on the concept of an ideal pair of jeans for hot weather.

It was fortuitous that the crew at Okayama Denim allowed me to take an early look at this pair of jeans during my recent trip to Europe, as it is rather cold in Australia right now. My thoughts here are based on wearing this pair of Dog Days jeans very extensively for a month in hot weather, prowling cities, exploring Roman ruins, hiking hills and climbing up mountains.

Firstly, as a collaboration project, the ODJB016 has merit outside of collaboration clothes being a marketing exercise. Here, Okayama Denim has chosen to take a detour from their ongoing project with Japan Blue – the releases of different versions of Japan Blue’s popular 18 oz Godzilla jeans – and has thrown some wild ideas at the jeans-making group. The denim itself was freshly developed for this collaboration, centered on the theme of summer. As such, Dog Days holds its own and provides great value & interest independent of the hype associated with collab jeans.

Whilst I’ve featured or mentioned a few pairs of jeans which are geared towards warm weather wear in the last few months, those jeans fall into what I would consider to be the light weight category, 11 to 14 oz. Here, at 10 oz, the Dog Days denim is a throwback to denim jeans prior to WWII, when it was common for jeans and work-pants to be made with denim which are 10 oz or lighter. Indeed, when I first saw this fabric, early 20th century work pants sprung to my mind.

The texture of this denim, of course, is like nothing that has been made in the last century. The Dog Days denim is both the neppiest and knottiest denim I’ve ever seen. Consider that the denim is only 10 oz – not a whole lot of cotton to work with – the intensity of texture that’s been achieved is incredible, an easy rival to denim which are 16 oz and above.

Much slub and loom-chatter have been worked into the denim too, and the result here is an absolute explosion of fabric details on a comparatively thin but intensely tactile denim. By its light weight alone, the Dog Days denim also performs much better in aspects of breathability and drying compared to fabrics which are heavier than 12 to 13 oz. The bumpy texturing on the weft face also means that this denim won’t stick to your skin too much when you sweat in hot weather.

Moreover, the colour of the denim is a departure from the norm. A light shade of indigo features on the Dog Days denim, with a steely-grey cast which is most visible under incandescent lighting. This colour is an easy match with T-shirts and sneakers.

The new #2 Tapered cut is, from my perspective, an improvement on Japan Blue’s High Tapered cut. The regular HT cut fits like a slim tapered cut for me, and it is certainly not a fit I’d like to wear during a hot day. With this new cut, the top block (including the thighs) have been expanded, and as such it wears more comfortably. There is enough room for the hips to move whilst engaging in moderately intense activities such as hiking, as I’ve found out.

Yet, the taper here is similarly strong compared to the HT, so our choices in footwear are limited to shoes and low boots, not that this is a significant problem during the warmer months anyway. However, the narrow 18 cm hem does limit air circulation somewhat – this becomes more noticeable if you exercise and sweat in these jeans. An ideal summer time cut would probably have a slightly wider leg opening. Nevertheless, I find myself liking this cut much more than Japan Blue’s standard HT cut.

The sewing of the Dog Days jeans are dialed back to further showcase the denim. I like the use of tonal threads, certainly. The construct, as a whole, is modern, streamlined, and neat. Fans of the traditional or exaggerated reproduction styles of sewing are best to look into JapanBlue Co.’s Momotraro Jeans label.

The indigo dyed leather patch is a very nice touch, and unlike earlier renditions, this patch appears to be hand-dipped in indigo rather than being factory dyed. The hardware utilised are good quality too, the brass colour working well with the steel-tinted denim.

I’ve noticed that the buttons and rivets now have the Japan Blue arcs on the back-studs. It does seem that Japan Blue are incrementally upgrading the details on their headline jeans. On a similar note, the indigo discharge-dyed pocket cloth is really cool, an upgrade from the pocket cloths that have featured on the OD x JB collabs up until now, giving us some Hawaiian shirt vibes.

Considering the cut and the details, I would certainly say that the ODJB016 represents the highest tier of Japan Blue’s jeans and is a minor upgrade of sorts from their previous collaborations with Okayama Denim. It would be really exciting to see more collaboration jeans in the same mold, with different denim fabrics.

All in all, I would consider the ODJB016 Dog Days jeans to be a great summer time denim option, and as far as collaboration jeans go it is a compelling and worthwhile endeavor.

The denim here is really different, in a good & fun way, and may challenge denim purists; the Dog Days jeans does present a brand new niche for most hobbyists, as I gather most of us would not have ultra-light Japanese denims in our wardrobes just yet. Dog Days is, importantly, a novel and exciting experience, even for more advanced collectors – if you are suffering from denim fatigue, this pair might be your remedy.

At $180 USD, the ODJB016 is priced very well, with the same RRP as the other OD x JB jeans. This pair is one of the pricier Japan Blue models, but firmly in the entry level price range as far as hobbyist Japanese denim is concerned. Considering the very unique denim, the excellent new cut and the well executed concept, the Dog Days jeans is highly recommended, especially given the sub-200 pricing.

Overall, the ODJB016 Dog Days is a top candidate for summer weather, and one of the most detailed collaborations this year just yet. The pricing is beginner friendly, and yet by virtue of the light and fun fabric, it fills a niche spot for more seasoned denimheads too.

Hop over to Okayama Denim – this pair is released 27/06/19 at midnight, and limited to 96 pairs!

2 thoughts on “Okayama Denim x Japan Blue – ODJB016 Dog Days jeans

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