Ooe Yofukuten & Co. and why I love Japanese denim
I found this recent video from Japanese news station NHK that really captures the spirit of Ooe Yofukuten and helps to explain their ethos behind their work and my love for all things handmade.
A little while ago I was at a job interview for a UX position. Everything went well, but one of the last questions I was asked was "what's Japanese denim?" They probably found out my secret on one of my social media profiles. But, it made me think: "How do I explain my obsession with Japanese jeans to people?" I think this video might help convey what I see as brilliant UX in jean production.
I briefly explained to the interviewer that I love how the Japanese have embraced a lot of Americana into their culture, hand made jeans and vintage work wear being some of those elements. I explained how the workers put their soul in the garments and take every care when making the jeans. I kept it brief because I didn't want to come off as a psycho jeans freak at a job interview so here is the extended answer.
One of the things I love most about my Japanese jeans is the care and skill that the artisans use when literally cutting and sewing the garments by hand. Unlike factory made, mass produced jeans most of the Japanese brands are still made by hand using vintage machines, dyed by hand using real indigo and built to last using vintage fabrics, buttons, and rivets. To me, and other jeans buffs, that means a lot. These artisans put their heart and soul into every garment they make and it shows.
I think a big part of why I love Japanese denim, and Ooe Yofukuten especially, is the experience they provide when ordering and customizing jeans. I ordered a pair of semi custom jeans from Ryo & Hiro, the sole proprietors of Ooe Yofukuten, last year. The experience was wonderful. They sent over tons of denim samples, hand riveted to a thick paper card with their info. They answered any and all questions about fabric origin, weight, fading properties, and of course sizing. Then, when it came down to picking the thread color and material, vintage rivets and buttons, custom pocket bags, goat leather patch and controversial red tab on the back pocket, they were more than accommodating. The knowledge, pride and enthusiasm Ryo & Hiro have for their work is incredible. They even hand stamp and make the black cardboard boxes that contain the jeans. All in all, it's a really rewarding experience that makes you feel like you've got a personal Japanese tailor at your fingertips.
Ryo and Hiro have a customer for life from me.
Ooe Yofukuten & Co. blog Japanese, use Chrome to translate