Maker: Warpweft Company
Item: Jeans, denim
Price: $160 USD
Apologies for the hiatus – work’s been busy, and all that.
Though, I will have a couple of denim reviews for you this month, to round the year off. First up is a new fit and denim from Warpweft Company – an Indonesian brand which I had previously reviewed last year.
At that time, I reviewed their mid-weight EX-101 jeans, part of their top end Exquisite series, concluding that “…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.“
Today, we’ll check out their EX-202 – a different denim, a different cut, and perhaps signs of what’s to come for this brand.
At this time WWCo’s EX series jeans is offered in three different cuts – slim straight, tapered and high tapered. This pair I’m wearing is the high tapered cut.
This is a cut designed for the Western market, to follow-up on the trend of tapered fits in the heritage denim scene over the past couple of years.
The rise is medium-high.
The top block is tall but somewhat narrow, with the seat being more square than round.
The thighs are relatively roomy and comfortable.
The taper is nicely done from the knees down, ending in an excellent 7.75 inch at size 36.
The inseam is a very generous 35 inches pre-shrunk. At 185 cm tall, I can easily double cuff the EX-202.
WWCo has again sourced some interesting denims from a small, family-run mill in Okayama, with whom they continue collaborating.
The EX-202 features a shuttle-loomed 18.5 oz mud-weft denim.
The warp is synthetic indigo rope-dyed.
This is a steel blue colour: grey tones, not overly bright, a deeper and darker blue.
Under cold sunlight, this denim has an old-school shade of blue, very smooth and pleasing.
The weft is sulfur dyed to brown.
This is a reddish-brown – reminding me of fine soil with iron oxide content – slightly brighter than most traditional mud-dip dyeing I’ve seen.
The yarns feature a mix of American cottons.
The denim is #5 size in terms of weft yarn, and a mix of #5 to #7 in the warp.
The texture is quite interesting – the starchy stiffness imparts smoothness, and yet the waves of little slubs add quite a bit of texture.
The slubs here are small and variegated, fairly different from larger or more intense slubbing that had been popular some years ago.
The effect is is achieved by the Japanese style of using uneven slub yarns.
This 18.5 oz denim is pre-shrunk using the Tempi method – secrets aside, this is basically a fabric treatment process whereby denim is stabilized in its dimensions with the use of starchy water whilst retaining most of its loomstate characteristics.
Singeing and calendering are not part of this process, and thus the denim still has a ‘raw’ feel.
However, the denim is heavier and less bouncy compared with true loomstate fabrics in the hand.
The result is very different from both sanforized and unsanforised denims.
This mud-weft denim is much more starchy and stiff compared to most I’ve handled; this is not a low-tension fabric which will break-in easily.
As mentioned before, the fabric is heavier, but slightly flatter/smoother in hand-feel compared to true loomstate Japanese denims.
It is more lively and interesting compared to sanforized denims.
The overall shade of indigo is quite beautiful – blue-steel with notes of wine-red – the combination results in a tone of blue that is rather smokey… cigar blue?
The mud-brown weft, popping out on the cuffs, is very eye-catching too.
This denim combines very well with leather boots due to both colour & texture.
The selvedge ID is pink.
For the Exquisite series, WWCo has included all the extra toppings which they could reasonable install on these jeans without making them too busy.
The deerskin patch features the same leather and cotton-flower stamping as last year’s EX-101.
The yoke lining is made with WWCo’s signature indigo cloth – handwoven, and vat-dyed with natural indigo using the wax-resist method.
The pattern on the cloth is the Japanese asanoha – hemp leaf – pattern.
The belt loops are raised in the center.
The one-piece, continuous selvedge fly returns!
This was one of my favourite hidden details on the EX-101.
More than just a selvedge gimmick, a well-executed selvedge fly improves the visual appearance, making the fly much neater and also more durable.
I don’t have any issues with lock-stitching at the fly, but the presentation of WWCo’s construct here is quite impressive – clean, almost minimalist, especially combined with the tonal stitching.
Black-coated copper hardware has been custom made by YKK Japan.
The buttons feature the cotton flower motif once again.
The back-studs are also customised.
The 5 button fly mixes two button sizes, all with the same design.
These buttons are high quality – solid feel, good thickness and easy to use.
The external and hidden rivets all feature the same WWCo logo as the button studs.
The punch-thru rivet should age nicely – a little bit of copper is already peaking through.
The back-studs of the external rivets feature more cotton flower.
A black woven tab is sewn into the outside edge of the coin pocket.
Here, we also glimpse the peek-a-boo selvedge edge.
More hand-woven asanoha cloth is used for the pocket bags.
The tonal stitching allows the natural indigo print to shine.
The arcuate – WWCo calls it the fundamental arcuate – is one of the most simple, but best executed, arcs coming out of Indonesia.
The arcs, being sewn with one continuous track, center the pockets without being too obtrusive.
The sewing on the EX series represents the best tailoring that can be had in Indonesia.
Being only limited by the types of vintage machines locally accessible, the stitch work is fantastic and represents a no-expense spared product of the industry in Indonesia.
Half a dozen thread colours have been combined with half a dozen thread thicknesses to produce a pair of jeans in true ‘golden-era’ style.
The major colours, lemon and tea, have been nicely balanced to still achieve a streamlined appearance with the vintage style sewing.
The stitching is dense and regular across the jeans.
I did not find a significant sewing defect on this pair.
The spacing of the stitch work from the folded edges throughout is very neat and regular also.
The sewing here, on the yoke, for example, is nicer than what I have seen from cheaper Japanese brands like TCB.
The stitching here is also THICK where it should be.
The contrast between heavy chain-stitched threads and the thinner single needle sewing is pleasing.
Even at the edge of the waist band – usually an area where even Japanese jeans will suffer from cosmetic sewing deficits – the EX-202 presents immaculate stitch-work.
The tonal stitching on the fly and the button holes hide how sturdy the construct has been made around these essential aspects.
Again, the thick chain-stitch is a detail not to be missed.
A detail which is sadly disappearing from many Japanese jeans over the past decade.
The back-tacking has been nicely done – dense, and neatly centered, covering the loops well.
The wheat coloured thread is a brave choice, but works well.
The inseam is neatly locked with dual tone stitching.
There are no fluff or loose threads here.
The hem features a very cool two-tone chain-stitch!
The blue and lemon combo is zesty 🙂
Overall, the EX-202 is incredibly well made, representing high quality sewing at any price-point.
In the 18 months since I last reviewed Warpweft Company, the denim scene in Indonesia – both manufacturing and consuming – has steadily grown. As far as Indonesian jeans go, the quality of manufacture continues to increase, little by little, every year.
However, the ‘taste’ for fashion and denim culture remains diverged from the more mature Western and Japanese markets. Many Indonesian makers continue to imbue their denim products with hyper-masculine imagery, complicated arcuates and overly busy design elements.
There lies my hesitancy in trying Indonesian jeans, generally speaking. The presentation of the whole – due to whatever cultural and social factors which are much beyond the scope of this article – is often too rough for my liking, and I believe also stops the local Indonesian brands from breaking out into established markets worldwide.
WWCo does not suffer from this issue. Rather than creating a story of ruggedness or masculinity – whatever that is supposed to look like on a pair of pants – Herman at WWCo has pursued the ongoing evolution of his brand from the perspective of a hobbyist.
WWCo jeans aim to be the best jeans that he can make in Indonesia, as far as a denim nerd is concerned. There is no pursuit of gimmicks or illusionary imagery or lifestyle appeals. It’s just good jeans for people who care about denim.
Noticing that his local Indonesian consumers and the folks overseas are wanting different things from their jeans, Herman has chosen to create different sub-lines for his label. The Exquisite series features all the bells & whistles, and has now incorporated new cuts to suit larger body frames – this is WWCo’s export line, if you like.
Similar to how early Japanese makers took inspiration from the golden age of American denim, Herman (a first wave Japanese denim hobbyist) has taken inspiration for his jeans from the golden age of Japanese denim.
Folks who have been in this hobby for a few years will be able to discern this in the EX-202 here; these jeans are made in a way which is reminiscent of Japanese jeans from the 2000’s.
The EX-202 features many details which Japanese brands, in the past few years, have been slowly phasing out on some of their own jeans. Take the raised edges on the pockets for example. Or the use of high caliber cotton threading on the waist band chain-stitching.
In a decade during which Japanese makers are gradually streamlining their products and quietly eliminating some of the more costly aspects of jeans production, it’s both refreshing and nostalgic to see a hobby brand bring back all the details which fascinated me when I first got into the hobby almost 15 years ago.
As opposed to many of its Indonesian peers, the EX-202 is well-balanced in terms of aesthetics. It is understated where it needs to be, exemplified by the use of tonal sewing on the pockets and at the selvedge fly, and the simple but effective arc. However, it also provides visual impact where required – take the awesome yoke lining, for example, or the two-tone chain-stitch at the hem.
The details are also surprisingly refined for a non-Japanese denim maker. The use of thread colours, stitch types and thread thicknesses is very considered. The hardware is fully custom and quietly elegant. The sewing is such that the inside of the jeans is just as neat as the outside.
Like I mentioned in my previous review of the EX-101, the EX series from WWCo represents a better made and more thought-out pair of jeans compared with most American brands and the lower tier Japanese brands.
Yet, this being a review, its important to point out that there is still room for growth – no pair of jeans is perfect. Personally, I loved the fit of WWCo’s new high tapered cut from the thighs down. However, the top block is too restrictive for me. I would be wearing these jeans a lot more if there was a little more space in the crotch and seat.
The Tempi starch treatment on these 18.5 oz denim has made for a very rugged and stiff pair of jeans – it is not immediately comfortable and will require a significant break-in period. As such, my issue with regards to the crotch/seat being tight will likely remain until a few months of wear and a couple of machine washes is completed.
The tighter crotch and the stiff/heavy denim also means that the edge of the selvedge fly keeps poking me in the thigh when I walk.
Keep in mind, though, that fit is subjective.
I have a very atypical build for a person of Asian descent, been quite meaty even by Western standards. This means that most people won’t experience the same issue here with the top block fit.
The silhouette from the thighs down to the hem is excellent, and will suit most Western hobbyists much better than most Japanese offerings bar exceptional HT cuts such as those from Oni or Tanuki.
Overall, I would say that WWCo’s new high tapered cut will fit an average built Caucasian person nicely. Chunkier folks such as myself are better to wait for Herman to come up with a newer cut. Perhaps a relax tapered cut is in the works?
Further, despite WWCo’s jeans being some of the most visually refined Indonesian offerings available, I feel that the patch design can be re-worked to offer more synergy with the other details on the jeans. Perhaps a simplified cotton flower motif and more focus on font work could elevate the overall presentation here.
These subjective issues aside, the EX-202, as far as my review process goes, is without major flaws. The sewing and construct on this pair of jeans is very impressive, even when measured against more costly Japanese jeans.
The denim utilized is proper enthusiast grade Japanese denim. Herman worked closely with the mill in Okayama to deliver a fabric which will satisfied different types of denim-heads.
For his local Indonesian customers, fading is king, and thus the denim needs to be stiff; the Tempi treatment on this mud-weft fabric offers dimensional stability (easy to size, no guess work when ordering) whilst retaining the potential for high contrast fades. For Western customers, the tone of indigo and the subtleties in hand-feel are key factors; the careful combination of yarns and dyes on the warp and weft has created an excellent denim. The blue on this denim is beautiful, and the slubbing adds sublte texture without distracting from the indigo.
The caliber of the fabric, sewing and detailing on the EX-202 could rival Japanese jeans costing between $200 to $300, easily outpacing the cheaper Japanese offerings in the sub-200 price tier.
The advantage of Indonesian manufacture, however, allows WWCo to offer the EX-202 at $160 USD. This is very good value, to be sure.
To illustrate my point about value, let’s compare the EX-202 to its closest Japanese rival, the Japan Blue JB0626 ‘Godzilla’ jeans (which I reviewed in 2016), at around $170 to $180 USD if purchased from Japan: Both offer a 18 oz brown-weft denim in a high tapered cut. The EX-202 has subjectively better sewing, more detailing, and a higher tier of fabric. And, the EX-202 costs less too.
Jeans aside, I am a big fan of Herman’s dedication to our hobby, and his pursuit of refining his brand through the careful study of the trail-blazing Japanese makers. It really makes a discernible difference in the garment when the owner of the brand is a die-hard enthusiast.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does next.
Do check out the WWCo collection of cuts and denims on their website.