There are so many great denim brands in Japan; some are well known, while some are shrouded in mystery and are a denim insider’s secret. We recently stumbled upon the hard-to-pronounce but very cool brand Ooe Yofukuten and wanted to share their story with you. We found them via two great sources of denim inspiration, the blog Rawrdenim.com and the Japanese denim enthusiast Bandanna-Almanac.com.
Jonathan, the guy behind the Bandanna Almanac did a guest post for Rawr, where he visited with Hiro and Ryo of Ooe Yofukuten and toured their workshop, taking some great photographs along the way. Jonathan writes:
I had some preconceptions of Ooe Yofukuten before entering, but one thing I hadn’t expected was to enter a living sewing museum tucked cozily into the countryside of Japan. This workshop is more akin to an industrial-era museum than a sewing workshop. In reality it is a little of both.
Most of Ooe Yofukuten’s machines are pre-1930 models on which they stitch their jeans along with a wide assortment of handmade goods ranging from tissue cases to jackets and bags. Jonathan went on to interview this interesting couple and their fantastic denim brand – you can see the full interview here but we’ve pasted some of the highlights below:
BA: So where did the interest for denim start?
Ryo: When I was in junior high school, which was about 15 years ago, there was a vintage American clothes boom among young people in Japan. Because of this boom, I have been hooked on vintage American clothes since. So that is how I got interested in denim.
Hiro: When I tried to sew the jeans it was very interesting and fun.
BA: You liked jeans and you started collecting, and now you are making jeans how did that evolve?
Ryo: At first I was making jeans for myself, family, and friends. I was updating my blog about those jeans, and readers asked me to make them a pair. So that was the first time I made jeans for a person not in my family. I only received the materials fee so I didn’t make any profit. That person loved the jeans I made, and that made me very happy. So it became really fun to make jeans. And that was the start of producing an actual product. I started thinking about bringing our jeans to a big flea market in Nagoya to see people’s reaction. So we tried it out and brought 12 pairs of jeans and sold about 6 pairs over a period of 2 days. You know at flea markets people are selling old jeans for 5 bucks or 10 bucks to get rid of the stuff they don’t want. But, we were selling brand new jeans for 100 or so bucks and six people bought them and that made me really happy, and that drove us to start this business.
BA: Any future vision or plans?
Ryo and Hiro: I want to try everything. We are making jeans now, but we want to try with wool. Really anything and everything I want to try. We are a tailor, not only denim or jeans, so we are open to anything. But it takes time like we said.
Here are some of their product shots and details. It’s hard to find out if a brand like this is stocked anywhere outside Japan yet… it seems not but watch this space!