Following the "Ivy" movement spearheaded by Kensuke Ishizu of VAN Jacket, Japanese males slowly became more fashion-conscious. The proliferation of modern men's fashion in Japan, coupled with a growing political and social disease paved the way for more rebellious styles, and an infatuation with American culture quickly permeated throughout mainstream Japanese culture. Between drifting popular opinion, and relaxed trade regulations, Japanese citizens suddenly had access to a myriad of American-made products.

In particular, American denim was an instant hit with Japan's style-conscious population. Veterans of the Ivy style loved the casual fit and the thick, durable nature of the woven twill fabric, while younger consumers enjoyed denim’s embodiment of a rebellious American ethos—James Dean, Marlon Brando, and their ilk. Unfortunately, the sizing of Western denim was an issue for most of Japan's male population—usually too bulky and long-legged. As a result, stores and importers began shipping their used jeans to be recut, and then remade for the Japanese body.

Over the next twenty-five years, the Japanese denim business went from niche to a competitive retail market. Denim labels like Edwin, Big John, and Canton played up their association to American culture through western tropes, and in turn enjoyed great success. The image of the "authentic" American was no longer that of a well-off Ivy league student as perpetrated by VAN Jacket, but rather rebellious youth—most notably hippies and cowboys. Over the next several decades, blue jeans became a wardrobe staple. By the 1970s the country was undergoing a massive economic boom, and Japanese youth no longer needed to save up for a single pair. Instead, they bought multiple pairs at once. The widespread success of denim and surging demand resulted in large-scale production and a gradual drop in quality. Jeans were mass-produced on projectile looms that lacked the ubiquitous, well-dyed nature of their vintage counterparts. Details like rolled belt loops or hidden rivets had all but disappeared.

There was a clear need for well-made denim that adhered to Japan's infamous attention to detail and craftsmanship. Tired of an oversaturated market, several designers sought to revive Japanese denim through hand-dyed processes, archival machinery, and time-consuming weaving techniques. In response to the near-extinction of these artisanal methods, five companies based Osaka—later known as the “Osaka Five”—began to revive and reinterpret heirloom American denim in order to create durable garments that stand the test of time.

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Tags: denim, full-count, warehouse-and-co, denime, studio-d-artisan, evisu