Japanese Blue Jeans

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  • Thanks to superior materials and methods alike, the best Japanese denim is more popular than ever before.
  • What was previously a somewhat niche industry continues to explode, as more and more people seek out quality over quantity.
  • Naturally, one might wonder: why are Japanese denim jeans different than those from countries like America (i.e.


the birthplace of this wardrobe essential)? Let’s find out before we dive into our list of the best Japanese denim brands. In the decades following WWII, nearly all the denim in Japan was sourced from America. However, a company named Kurabo Mills decided to craft its own denim fabric in the small town of Kojima (which is now known as a veritable Japanese denim hub within the broader Okayama prefecture). After some gruelling trial and error, Kurabo created KD-8 denim in 1972.

Pure Blue Japan XX-019-CB (Relaxed Tapered)
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KD was named for the mill in which the material was created and 8 made reference to the number of attempts it took to get it right.
Pure Blue Japan Hunting Pants (Olive)
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As one might suspect, the Japanese denim from Kurabo Mills was starkly different than your average fare.
Pure Blue Japan Hunting Pants (Camel)
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Namely, it used natural dye and was made on old looms to produce selvedge fabric.
Pure Blue Japan Indigo Honeycomb Thermal L/S Tee
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Native brand Big John incorporated the denim into its “M” Series and a new industry was born.

Pure Blue Japan Indigo Herringbone Crewneck Sweatshirt
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It’s an industry that would change and evolve over subsequent decades, but also stay true to a number of its materials and methods.
Pure Blue Japan Indigo Dyed "Raised" Henley
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While Japanese denim jeans might differ from one pair to the next, the country’s foremost brands are best known for two things: selvedge denim and raw denim.
Pure Blue Japan Indigo Cable Knit Hoodie
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These terms are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t quite the same thing.
Pure Blue Japan AI-003 17.5oz. "Aizome" (Regular Straight)
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To elucidate, raw denim is denim that hasn’t been pre-washed and selvedge denim—which comes from the phrase “self-edge”—refers to a tight and natural edge that can only be achieved via specific methods.

Pure Blue Japan Pale Indigo Jersey Crewneck Tee
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When selvedge (also known as selvage) denim is turned into a pair of jeans, it prevents unravelling and retains a clean look.
Pure Blue Japan Middle Indigo Jersey Crewneck Tee
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It’s more costly to produce than non-selvedge denim and thereby featured on expensive Japanese jeans.
Pure Blue Japan 12oz-GRE-013 "Greencast Indigo" (Slim Tapered)
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Selvedge denim can be used on both un-washed (i.e. raw) and pre-washed jeans alike. To learn more about both raw and selvedge denim, check out this article.
Pure Blue Japan 13oz. BRK-013-ID (Slim Tapered)
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Jeans from the best Japanese raw denim brands will typically cost more and require some extra TLC, but they’ll also deliver more character, colour, variability, style, comfort, and prestige.

Pure Blue Japan 13oz. BRK-003-ID (Regular Straight)
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It’s then only natural that you might want to score a pair. Here’s our list of the best Japanese denim brands:.
Pure Blue Japan EX-013-BB (Slim Tapered)
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This top brand hails from Kojima, where the Japanese denim industry was born and where it continues to thrive.
Pure Blue Japan 13oz. BRK-013-BK (Slim Tapered)
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Handmade using rare materials like Zimbabwe cotton and a natural indigo dyeing process, Momotaro jeans don’t just resist fading, they get a little darker with age.
Pure Blue Japan Type II Double Natural Indigo Sashiko Selvedge Jacket
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Founded in: 2006Located in: KojimaKnown for: Selvedge denim jeans that are handmade using Zimbabwe cotton.

Pure Blue Japan Type III Double Natural Indigo Sashiko Selvedge Jacket
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If hard-to-find Japanese jeans went by any other name, that name might very well be Oni.
Pure Blue Japan EX-019-BB (Relaxed Tapered)
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Shrouded in secrecy, the brand keeps the exact details of its elusive weaving methods tightly under wraps.
Pure Blue Japan Double Natural Indigo Sashiko Selvedge Jeans (Relaxed Tapered)
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According to legend, each pair is handwoven on a vintage shuttle loom by an ancient master-weaver named Oishi-San.
Pure Blue Japan KSAI-013 17.5oz. Natural Indigo x Kakishibu Selvedge Jeans (Slim Tapered)
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Whatever the methods, the resulting selvedge denim jeans are duly distinguished by their slim fits and unique textures.

Pure Blue Japan 14.5oz. GRE-013 "Greencast Indigo" (Slim Tapered)
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Good luck scoring a pair! Located in: OkayamaKnown for: Rare selvedge denim jeans. Striking a balance between high-quality and relative affordability, Japan Blue delivers genuine raw selvedge denim for much less than most competing brands.
Pure Blue Japan 12oz. Indigo Dyed Selvedge Chino Pants
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True to form, the label’s jeans are tight, modern, durable, and well-made.
Pure Blue Japan Natural Indigo x Light Indigo Type III Selvedge Jacket
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What more do you need? Founded in: 2010Located in: KojimaKnown for: Raw selvedge denim at a great price.
Pure Blue Japan EX-013 (Slim Tapered)
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Not to be confused with Japan Blue Jeans, this seasoned brand employs traditional methods and a unique dye of natural indigo.

Pure Blue Japan EX-019 (Relaxed Tapered)
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Like fine leather, each pair of Blue Blue Jeans take on more character, colour, and distinction with age.
Pure Blue Japan Indigo Cable Knit Crewneck Sweatshirt
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This is quintessential Japanese style with a worldwide cult following to show for it.
Pure Blue Japan NP-013 Nep Selvedge Jeans (Slim Tapered)
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Founded in: Early 1990sLocated in: TokyoKnown for: Natural indigo dyeing process. “These ain’t Diesel, these is Evisu…” So goes a (slightly modified) line from the 2002 Jay-Z track “Show You How,” which was just one among many rap songs to mention this legendary brand.
OD+PBJ 18oz. "Super Rough Kakishibu" Selvedge Jeans (Slim Straight)
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Named for the Japanese folk god of money, it first launched in the early ’90s and initially produced about 14 pairs of jeans per day.

Pure Blue Japan 6oz. Double Natural Indigo Selvedge Chambray Band Collar Shirt
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Each one featured a signature seagull that was hand-painted by founder Hidehiko Yamane himself.
Pure Blue Japan 6oz. Selvedge Chambray Band Collar Shirt
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In the wake of a tax evasion scandal, Evisu relaunched in 2009 and continues to capitalise on its urban appeal.
Pure Blue Japan 6oz. Selvedge Chambray Work Shirt
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Founded in: 1991Located in: OsakaKnown for: Elevated urban aesthetic.
Pure Blue Japan BG-019 14.5oz. "Blue Gray" Selvedge Jeans (Relaxed Tapered)
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If you’re looking for exceptional range and quality construction, then you’ve just found your new favourite denim brand.

Pure Blue Japan BG-013 14.5oz. "Blue Gray" Selvedge Jeans (Slim Tapered)
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Inspired by Japan’s motorcycle community, Iron Heart specialises in heavyweight fabrics and high-contrast fades.
Pure Blue Japan AI-019-WID 17.5oz. Double Natural Indigo Selvedge Jeans (Relax Tapered)
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As a result, it’s cultivated a considerable following across the world stage, and grown rapidly in under two decade’s time.
Pure Blue Japan Indigo Pinstripe Pants
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By working with a number of top-tier Japanese mills, the label makes up for a lack of singularity by way of ample versatility.
Pure Blue Japan 12oz. Stretch Selvedge Jeans (Slim Tapered)
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Currently headquartered in the UK, it’s still a Japanese denim brand at heart. Founded in: 2003Located in: Portsmouth, EnglandKnown for: Heavyweight construction and impressive range.

Pure Blue Japan SN-019 (Relaxed Tapered)
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Easily one of the best Japanese raw denim brands, Samurai Jeans has been exploring the power of the fade since the late 1990s.
Pure Blue Japan Indigo Check Work Shirt
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Taking direct cues from Levi’s, founder Tohru Nogami infuses American-style trends with Japanese materials and flourishes to create something utterly unique.
Pure Blue Japan SLB-019 (Relaxed Tapered)
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It’s all in the details, as the saying goes, and that’s where this brand truly thrives.
Pure Blue Japan 1153 Indigo Sashiko Selvedge Jeans (Relax Tapered)
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Pick up a pair of the 19oz. raw denim jeans and look for the silver selvedge ID, which resembles a samurai sword.

Pure Blue Japan XX-18oz-019 Indigo x Black (Relaxed Tapered)
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Founded in: 1997Located in: OsakaKnown for: Unique fades and signature details. Crafted in the vein of vintage American workwear, Sugar Cane & Co.
Pure Blue Japan XX-18oz-013 Indigo x Black (Slim Tapered)
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has been churning out durable Japanese selvedge denim jeans since the 1970s. The brand often incorporates eco-friendly sugar fibre into the cotton fabric blend, achieving a purposefully uneven texture.
Pure Blue Japan NP-019 Nep Selvedge Jeans (Relaxed Tapered)
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Built to last and hard to find, these jeans commonly deliver a tight fit. Founded in: 1970sKnown for: Workwear aesthetic and slubby texture.
Pure Blue Japan XX-18oz-019 Deep Indigo (Relaxed Tapered)
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Part of the famous Osaka Five, this trailblazing brand was the first to make shuttle loom-woven hank-dyed jeans in Japan.

Pure Blue Japan Indigo Slub Raglan Sleeve Tee
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When the Japanese raw selvedge denim boom kicked off in the late 1990s, Studio D’Artisan became all the more popular.
Pure Blue Japan XX-013-BB (Slim Tapered)
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To this day, it makes its own fabric and weaves its own range of inexpensive to fairly expensive Japanese jeans, which often appear in limited supply and sell out fast.
Pure Blue Japan Chino Pants (Camel)
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Founded in: 1979Located in: OsakaKnown for: Artisanal jeans.
Pure Blue Japan 12oz. Selvedge Chino Pants (Olive)
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Passion meets experience at Tanuki, which was recently founded by a group of seasoned craftsmen.

Pure Blue Japan 12oz. Selvedge Chino Pants (Camel)
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The Japanese brand excels at making unsanforized denim, meaning denim that hasn’t been stretched, fixed, or pre-shrunk.
Pure Blue Japan Indigo Border Coat
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You might say this is raw denim in its purest form, though it can lead to complications in terms of sizing.

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But we still say it’s worth it! Founded in: 2016Located in: OkayamaKnown for: Unsanforized denim and a brand mark stitched onto the back pocket.

2. Oni Denim

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