‘The Holy Land of Jeans’ – that’s my personal favorite, and maybe the most dramatic, of all nicknames lovingly given to the seaside town of Kojima in Okayama Prefecture. Excuse the pun, but it fits very well. With so many elements to consider (quality, size, color, style, length, ability to fly-kick your enemies) finding a truly great pair of jeans is something like a religious experience. But it’s an everyday occurrence in Kojima, home to countless textile mills and denim manufacturers, all of which focus on premium quality, durability and traditional technique. It is here that craftsmanship meets style to create denim magic.
You might have heard of some of the long-running players to come out of Okayama, like Momotaro Jeans, Japan Blue Jeans and Studio D’Artisan. But we’ve rounded up the newest, most exciting brands born in the birthplace of denim in the last few years.
Launched just last year, URVIN make the kind of denim that you would consider wearing to both a coffee date and a fancy event. For jeans, they have all styles and fits covered for the modern-day lady, as well as denim jackets, relaxed tops and some very adorable overalls, all with an edgy vintage feel. With an incredibly Instagram-friendly lookbook, URVIN feels like a quintessentially of-the-minute women’s fashion brand— one that you’ll just happen to be wearing forever.
URVIN is available at Japan Blue Jeans: 103 5-28-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku.
It is also available at a number of independent stores around Tokyo, Chiba and Saitama. More information is available on the website.
Soulive was established in 2014. Specializing in traditional Japanese styles, work and military wear for ladies and gentlemen, the brand doesn’t sacrifice style for craftsmanship. The result of its sartorial foundations is something a little rock and roll, a little hippy—like something Mick Jagger might have worn in the ‘70s. Soulive are all about traditional indigo dyeing, weaving and sewing techniques, and a handmade finish. If you’re looking for a pair of perfectly worn-in looking jeans that have been distressed just so, Soulive is the brand to check out.
Soulive is available in CPCM: 1-2F 6-12-22 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku.
It is also available in other independent stores, which can be viewed here.
SETTO / Texture We Made
Also established in 2014, SETTO and Texture We Made are a casual wear and denim jeans brand, respectively. Together they make up a power brand that produces comfortable, relaxed and very stylish lifewear that you will want to wear every day, forever. With SETTO/Texture We Made, function and form come together in graceful balance. Using high-quality wool, linen and organic cotton fabrics, as well as the traditional indigo dyeing techniques that we know and love, each piece is designed to be worn and appreciated for a long time. Think of it as the perfect antidote to fast fashion.
SETTO can also be found in the Japan Blue Jeans store in Jingumae, Shibuya-ku.
Pallet Life Story
Unlike so many other denim brands to come out of Okayama, Pallet Life Story is not being produced by textile giant Japan Blue Group. The denim menswear brand was founded in 2017 by Yoshinori Hasuoka and Takeshi Inoue and is still largely a mystery outside of Kojima. But clearly the pair are onto something, since PLS has already been picked up by popular Berlin-based craft trade show Selvedge Run alongside established Japanese denim labels Momotaro Jeans and Japan Blue Jeans. Style-wise, the brand sits in a very cool space between workwear and streetwear—definitely a brand to keep watching.
Pallet Life Story has a shop in 2-2-77 Kojimaajino Kurashiki-shi, Okayama-ken.
Technically a little older and more established than the other brands mentioned in this article, TCB Jeans was founded by Hajime Inoue in 2012. Nevertheless, the brand deserves a mention, because though it has a steady slew of fans it has still managed to fly quietly under the radar until now. While vintage-focused denim manufacturers are no new thing in Okayama, TCB are known for being very good at sewing vintage styles, using traditional shuttle looms to create classic cuts. Thanks to the attentive Inoue, TCB also provide that special personal touch, where every piece feels as though it has been handmade with the utmost care. If you feel weird about spending ¥2,000 on chain store jeans then TCB is the denim experience you need.
TCB is available in various stores throughout Japan, including Tools Infinity: Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 6-9-2 2F.
For those of you actually interested in making the pilgrimage to Kojima, the illustrious ‘Jeans Street’ is where you need to go. You can sip on cool drinks from denim vending machines, appreciate the ease of denim lockers, and visit a whopping 30 dedicated stores while eating actual denim ice cream (blueberry flavored). The Holy Land awaits.