Made in Japan, a short documentary film giving a window into the world of the famous Japanese denim mills in Okayama, has just been released by Dog Leap productions.
Japanese denim has a reputation for being the best in the world, known for its premium construction and the skilled artisanal craft required to make it. Denim was introduced to Japan after World War 2 and American culture and vintage clothing quickly became a fascination among the Japanese youth.
While many big manufacturers started to favour cheaper mass production machinery, the Japanese looking to create the perfect jeans, experimented with reverting back to old techniques, producing selvedge products woven on old shuttle looms. This required more skill and craftsmanship, leading to a tighter denser weave.
Japan’s obsession with American jeans led them to become the world’s best denim manufacturers in terms of knowledge and technique. From the indigo dyeing and cotton warp yarning, to the weaving and finishing of the cloth the film celebrates the skilled crafts people who are integral to this world-famous denim making process.
The film’s directors’ Jack Flynn and Nick David shot the film in June 2019 over a two week period. The main factory featured is Kuroki, which makes denim sold to jeans brands all over the world. They also shot with Japan Blue in Okayama and Indigo Master Osamu Nii, a sixth generation indigo plant grower in Tokushima.
Find out more about Japanese denim in Selvedge Issue 81 Japan Blue (digital only). The issue covers Weaving Shibusa, a documentary by Devin Leisher on the cult of Japanese denim and indigo culture, and a visit to the Okamoto Orifu Factory, where master craftsmen are working to satisfy the world’s hunger for selvedge denim, weaving on old Toyota looms, rope-dying cotton and contrasting their indigo with persimmon.