The Common-Folk: Mixing Japanese tradition with modern design

Unlike the United States, which has only one remaining manufacturer of raw denim, Cone Mills, Japan is home to many active denim mills that churn out the cream of the world’s premium denim around the clock.

But it’s not just the indigo stuff that these famed mills are pushing. Many of your favourite Japanese mills use the same looms used to make denim to produce a range of non-denim fabrics that come with the same quality and durability. Think selvedge chino fabric, textural dobby weaves, jacquards as well as a lightweight shirting fabrics like oxford. And it’s these alternatives that have become the go-to for new Canadian label Common-Folk.


Founded by Toronto native Joseph Azulay, the emerging brand merges historic Japanese selvedge fabrics and silhouettes with modern sensibilities. Working closely with fabric mills and denim brands in Okayama, Japan, The Common-Folk brings traditional textile craftsmanship – such as shuttle loom denim weaving and indigo dyeing – to the present.

With a textile-first approach to design, The Common-Folk’s tightly edited collection comes nothing short of quality, with 100% cotton fabrics that come with features like natural indigo dyes that allow for the perfect fade, or the brands signature kimonos crafted in a bevvy of intricate patterns like camouflage, pinstripe and speckle prints.


While all the fabrics are sourced from Japan’s denim mecca, the collection is crafted by hand out of the brands studio in Toronto, Canada. Here Azulay and his team extend the same unparalleled devotion and attention to create the – most superior handmade goods.

Trained out of passion rather than in school, Azulay learnt his trade for design through a close network of master tailors in Toronto. With just one season under his belt, Azulay has already gathered some strong attention in the menswear scene, most notably from its on-point styling cues which fuse a range of influences from Japanese workwear, lifestyle and traditional military garb.


The upcoming Spring/Summer 2017 will be the brands first complete collection. In an interview with Hypebeast Azulay commented “It’s about 21 pieces in total, introducing a whole new range of silhouettes including outerwear and a signature footpiece, celebrating Japanese culture with a heavy emphasis on the fabrics themselves. A lot of the collection will be denim, but we don’t want to come off as a denim brand. It’s the culture and history behind the denim that we’re trying to promote.”

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