In the 90s, jeans from most brands in the US maintained a careful balance between quality and affordability, but the balance sometimes leaned towards the latter. It was a necessary compromise at a time when customers were looking for value. This meant that the manufacturing methods of the 19th century were left in the past, and with them, the outstanding quality and premium feel of US denim, which had made history around the world. But in Japan, looms were still producing the traditional selvage fabric, using age-old methods and craftsmanship. One of the leading brands to make jeans to this superior standard is Momotaro Jeans, based in the Kojima. This small town in the western prefecture of Okayama, Japan is the place where the first pair of Japanese jeans were produced in the 60s and has become a pilgrimage site for denim aficionados.
At Momotaro, the artisans have a mantra that perfectly illustrates the brand’s values: “Made by hand without compromise.” The shuttle looms are tuned by hand every day, and the master weaver, Shigeru Uchida, uses his decades of training to keep a watchful eye on the manufacturing process, listening carefully to detect even minute changes in the sounds made by the vintage looms. This artisan skill and hands-on approach combines with the best raw materials and natural indigo blue dye to create premium selvage denim of the finest quality. Unique details are then added to the design, including custom-made buttons and rivets embossed with the company’s seal. The peach stitching is not chosen merely for its aesthetic qualities, it also provides a link to the local legend of Momotaro, which means ‘peach boy’. Even though the folk story has changed over the years, its message of vitality and rejuvenation is the same. This concept of rejuvenation stands at the core of the company. It’s a fitting choice, as the revival of premium denim has taken the world by storm and it only seems to gain more pace. Images by Momotaro Jeans. Buy here.