Japanese Denim 101: Everything You Need To Know

Japan is known for its high-speed bullet trains, Mount Fuji, blossom trees and for being advanced in the world of technology. They are also the raw denim capital of the world, and many of the denim brands that originate in Japan have a cult following for their craftsmanship, quality construction and style. 

What sets Japanese denim apart from the rest of the world? At Stuarts London, we have a range of brands that offer Japanese denim jeans, such as Naked & Famous, Edwin and C17 – Cedixsept. But why should you invest in a pair of Japanese denim jeans? Keep reading to discover why denim from Japan is elite and why you should have some in your wardrobe. 

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What is Japanese selvedge denim?

Selvedge denim is a type of denim that uses alternative construction methods and focuses on quality compared to mass-produced denim. Selvedge denim is manufactured with precision on a shuttle loom using one continuous thread and can often be identified by turning up the cuff of the jeans and looking at the seam that runs on the outside of the leg. This seam should look finished, and the yarns of the self-edge should be a different colour from the fabric – this is the key indicator that the jeans you are purchasing have been crafted using selvedge denim production techniques. 

If you would like to read more about selvedge denim, including how to care for denim jeans, the origin and how a pair of selvedge denim jeans should fit – check out our selvedge denim hub.  

Where to buy Japanese selvedge denim

At Stuarts London, our buying team have sourced some of the finest, state-of-the-art brands that use Japanese selvedge denim within their lines. We will explain some of the key brands and their features later, but if you are searching for a place to purchase selvedge denim, we have a diverse selection of styles and sizes for you to consider. 

The best Japanese denim companies to try

If you want to branch out into the world of Japanese denim, we have a list of the best brands for you. Using intricate construction methods to ensure durability and wardrobe longevity, the brands highlighted below blend functionality with style so that you will have a denim staple that you can rely on repeatedly. 

Edwin Japanese denim

A brand that has its heritage rooted in Japan since its conception in 1947, Edwin has been providing the finest raw denim for enthusiasts across the globe for 75 years. The brand has continued to be on the cutting edge of innovation, and they claim to have invented ‘the old wash’ in the 1970s, which is a way to make newly constructed denim feel worn, and then they claim to have invented stone washing in the 1980s. 

Raw Japanese denim doesn’t go through any distressing or washing process during construction, making it stiff to the touch and rich with deep-blue dye. If you are looking for Japanese denim that is designed to last from Edwin, we recommend: 

EDWIN – ED-47 Red Listed Selvedge Denim – Unwashed 

Edwin Jeans Japanese Denim

The ED-47 Red Listed from Edwin has been constructed from 14oz denim and provides a contemporary boxy look to any silhouette. With a mid-rise construction and straight-leg fit, you will find that denim of this calibre is designed to stick around in your wardrobe for years to come. 

C17 – Cedixsept Jeans

C17 is a brand that focuses on everyday staples that you can add to your wardrobe and bring out season after season. Starting its legacy and rising to prominence in the 80s and 90s, the brand continues to innovate and draw inspiration from timeless legacy lines. 

With sentiments of the brand lying in the quality and long-lasting properties of their clothing, you will find a wide array of C17 selvedge denim jeans that are as authentic as they are stylish. At Stuarts London, we recommend: 

C17 – CEDIXSEPT JEANS – Kaihara C-Original Fit Japanese Selvedge Denim Jeans

C17 Japanese denim jeans

The Kaihara C-Original jeans by C17 are a lesson in authentic Japanese denim. Constructed with 16.5oz denim from the historic Kaihara denim mill in Japan, you can be sure that your wardrobe will be filled with credible Japanese denim when purchasing from C17. The off-duty, simplistic styling of the Kaihara C-Original jeans allows the wearer to style up or down, depending on their desired look. To get even coverage across the garment, they have been dip-dyed by hand and treated to give a lighter feel. 

Naked & Famous Japanese Denim 

Known for their cheeky and innovative branding, Naked & Famous may like to have a fun edge, but when it comes to the quality of their garments – they don’t mess around. The brand prides itself on delivering “rare and raw” Japanese denim, and their previous collections are rooted in innovation, and past lines have included ‘glow in the dark’ denim, ‘scratch-n-sniff’ denim and even reflective denim. It is fair to say that having a pair of Naked & Famous denim jeans will set your wardrobe apart from the regular gentleman.

Naked & Famous travel to Japan multiple times a year and collaborates with Japanese denim mills on products that push the boundaries and provide denim enthusiasts with collectable and quality garments. The selection of Japanese denim from Naked & Famous is extensive at Stuarts London, and you will find some of the innovative lines mentioned above within our collection. We are proud to be one of the few official UK stockists of Naked & Famous, and we are sure you can see why. At Stuarts London, we recommend: 

NAKED AND FAMOUS DENIM – Weird Guy Scratch-n-Sniff Hiba Cypress

The Weird Guy Scratch-n-Sniff Hiba Cypress jeans from Naked & Famous are unlike any other jeans in your wardrobe. Their unique scented properties will be a talking point every time you wear them. Constructed with 12.7oz Japanese denim, the garment has scented micro-capsules baked into the fabric, resulting in a scratch and sniff phenomenon. When you scratch the jeans, the micro-capsules burst and release an aromatic calming scent of northern Japan’s serene Hiba Cypress tree forests. 

Why is Japanese denim considered the best? 

Due to the complex construction efforts needed to create Japanese denim, the result is high-quality, durable denim that lasts – Japanese denim is considered some of the best in the world. When compared to the mass-produced denim counterparts around the globe, Japanese denim is constructed on antique looms, which are rare and often slow. Japanese denim takes a lot of expertise to create, maintain and master, which is why the price point is slightly higher than other denim brands. 

How is Japanese denim different? 

There are many qualities of Japanese denim that set it apart from other denim, which include:

  • Complex construction methods 
  • High-quality materials
  • Slower construction
  • Crafted on antique shuttle looms
  • Durable and tough
  • Designed to last
  • High production value 
  • Low production numbers mean you are wearing unique garments

Is Japanese denim stretchy?

Typically Japanese denim is selvedge denim, which means that it is more rigid in structure and durable when first worn. Over time, as the denim relaxes, it will become more comfortable and find the natural shape of your body. If you are looking for more information on how selvedge denim fits, check out our Selvedge Denim: Fit & Tailoring guide.

Japanese denim at Stuarts London

Check out the full selection of selvedge denim brands at Stuarts London today and step into the world of Japanese denim. You will be greeted with unique designs and high-quality garments made to last a lifetime. What more could you ask for? Alternatively, you can explore the full range of denim jeans on offer, which includes some of the most sought-after brands and collections available. 

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