Sunday, March 04, 2007

Samurai interview

So, I've conducted an interview with one of the best jeansmakers in the world and my favourite brand, SAMURAI!
It has been delayed a lot, because I had a hard time to find someone who could translate it back and forth between English and Japanese, but thanks to Hajime and Naoto it's now finally finished! Big thanks to you guys!
Click 'Read More' to read the interview. It comes in an English and a Japanese variety!

The Happy New Years card I received from Samurai!

The Samurai boss

Hi Toshiko, thank you for taking your time to answer my questions! Could you
give us an introduction of yourself and Samurai Jeans? How big is your
company, how many employees? Is it a family business?

- Samurai Jeans was established in Osaka Japan in 1998, when was the
heyday of vintage replica jeans - Evisu, Studio D'Artisan, Denime and
Warehouse for instance, but Nogami - the CEO of Samurai Jeans, wasn't
quite satisfied with all these jeans, so he came up with the idea -
we're going to make the best jeans that make us satisfied! That's how
Samurai Jeans started. Since then, our policy has not been changed to
this day.
Our first jeans was S0510XX lot#0 in 1998 and we made only 100 pairs.
We stamped the serial number "lot#0" on the leather patches, then the
number became lot#1 for the next model in the same year, and lot#2 in
1999 and so on. This means that the jeans we produce in this year
(2007) carry lot#10, and the next year will be our 10th anniversary.

Toshiko, how come you got into the jeans business? It is a bit unusual for a woman to work with or be passionate about jeans and its heritage, at least that's my experience.

- Initially I was interested in vintage replica jeans, then I was
smitten by Samurai Jeans' attitude towards the jeans they produce.

Samurai is one of the most popular Japanese brands, why do you think that is? What differentiates you from other brands?

- That's a very difficult question! (laugh). First and foremost, I
think the quality of denim. We've been studying and researching about
denim again and again, so we wouldn't sell our jeans public unless
we're finally satisfied with the final product. Secondly, our concept
- each model has its own unique character and we never forget to add
sense of humour with it - the design of our leather patches, for
example. I think that's why our customers like our jeans.

What is the feeling that you want to convey to the person who wears Samurai jeans?

- Well, the spirit of challenging - not compromise, finding out what
it's the truth in any aspects. It sounds as though ancient samurais'

Your brand name is Samurai, is the Bushido code in anyway implemented in the way you design your jeans?

-The denim fabric, the way we sew, the accessories - whole Samurai Jeans.

How many pairs of jeans do you sell/make per year?

- I'm afraid I cannot tell how many exactly - not a lot, I think.

Do you want to keep your brand small, or are you trying to expand outside of Japan? Are we going to see Samurai jeans being sold outside of Japan and the US, like in Sweden? If yes, when can we expect this?

- We're very glad to hear that our jeans are becoming very popular
outside Japan - in the USA and Sweden for instance, however we are
not planning to expand our business worldwide at the moment. It would
be inevitable that the bigger we become globally, the more we become
commercialised. This mean, I think, that it would be difficult to
keep the good relationship between our customers and us and that'd be
against our policy. We, however, would like to rethink about
expanding our business worldwide when the right time has come, though.

Could you estimate how many jeans you have sold to people outside of Asia last year? How much of your sales come from people from America and Europe?

- We've had a lot of inquiries not only from the US but from Europe as
well. I don't know how many countries! (laugh)

Can you tell us a little about what new jeans you will release in 2007? New cuts or denim, a wrangler model perhaps? Will you release a 10 year anniversary model?

- We're going to release some new modes this year, including Wrangler

The slubby, loosely woven denim is almost a signature for Samurai. Are you going to make jeans with denim that is more tightly woven? I would very much like to see a pair of Samurais with denim like Studio D'Artisan or Denime, do you think that there is any chance of this happening?

- We don't stick to loose-weaving methods and slubby texture, but also
search for other potentials and new ideas in the future. Please look
forward to it!

Will you make other models than the S5000 in black denim that will fade in the same way as the S5000BK?

- Yes, we will.

What is happening to the S5000VX and S3000VX? Will they be discontinued or will you continue producing these models?

- Yes, we are still producing both models!

Will you start making the S7000VX again, since it was the most popular model among the people who entered the S5000BK wallet lottery?

- Yes, we're planning to release them again.

"Which is your favourite Samurai model?"

"Which old model do you want to see brought back?"

The stitching around the front pockets broke after only one month on both my S0505XX and my S0500XX, how come? Did you intentionally use a weaker underthread?

- We decide to use 100% cotton yarn so as to reproduce vintage-texured
jeans. Obviously cotton yarn is not as durable as nylon or core-yarn.

How do you feel about this lawsuit from Levi's? Can you give us a comment about it and maybe tell us how Samurai will be affected?

- We would want to pretend that the lawsuit by Levi's hasn't affected
us in any way, but we are going to take this issue as a good opportunity
to think about us and our future.

Thank you very much for taking your time to answer my questions! I very much appreciate it and I hope that others will, too!

That's it guys! Hope you liked it.

Japanese version.

★質問 ①

初めて製作したのは、S0510XX lot#0 1998年初代モデル。これは当初100本のみの製作です。
革パッチにlot#0を付したのは、最初の記念すべきモデルだからです。その後、同年に製作したモデルはすべてlot#1となっています。翌年1999年に製作したものはlot#2となり、その後毎年、年が変わるたびにlotの番号が増えていきます。今年2007年は、lot#10 がパッチに印字されています。したがって来年2008年が10周年となります。

★質問 ②


★質問 ③ 最近日本のレプリカデニムはアメリカなどでも注目され始めていると思うのですが、 今後世界を舞台に展開する予定はあるのでしょうか?例えばスウェーデンとか (笑)。でも人によっては小さくやっていきたいという気持ちがはやりあると 思うんですよ。もしあるのならいつぐらいになるのでしょうか?


★ 質問 ④
デニムの世界に入られたきっかけってどんなものだったのでしょうか? 僕の経験の中ではサムライジーンズのような古きよき時代のデニムに対してこ だわりと情熱もって接する人で、女性ってなかなかいない気がするのですが。。


★ 質問 ⑤
そういえば先日の年賀状どうもありがとうございました! あそこにあった写真について少し詳しくお伺いしていいですか?

★ 質問 ⑥
サムライジーンズって数ある日本のデニムのブランドの中(特にレプリカ)でも ダントツの人気があると思うのですが、その理由ってなんなんでしょう?他の ブランドと比べて「これはうちだけだ!」とか、「ここは譲れない!」って部 分とかありますか?

★質問 ⑦ サムライジーンズを通して、お客様に伝えたいメッセージはどういったものなのでしょうか?


★ 質問 ⑧
サムライと言うと武士道をイメージされる方が多いと思うのですが デザインの中でその精神がつぎ込まれているところってありますか?

★質問 ⑨
去年はどれぐらいの人数の海外の方と取引されたのでしょうか? 最近はアメリカ以外にもヨーロッパでもかなり注目されているようですね!

サムライジーンズと言えばやはりあの極上のスラブ感だと思うのですが、 今後もっとテンションの高めの生地を使う計画ってありますか?



さっきから質問攻めですみませんが、2007年ではどんなモデルが出てくるのか教えていただけますでしょうか?今度はラングラーを復元するとかどうで しょう。10 周年記念の特別版も今年は期待できるのでしょうか?

S5000VX とS3000VXは今後も生産されるのでしょうか?最近中々ショップとかでも見かけなくなってきたのですが…




僕の持っているS0505XXとS0500XX では着用してから一ヶ月ぐらいでフロントポケット周辺のステッチが切れてしまったのですが、これはわざと耐久力の低い糸を使っているのでしょうか?





Anonymous said...

awesome horrible! i was very hesitent with samurai when i first bought them, but they truely the only company adding a new spin on old products. I find brands like flathead, ironheart boring because they don't do much new. But samurai continues to do something new with every jean they produce. thanks for the interview

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview!
/ Henrik, Osaka

adrian said...

Great interview... I think I want to marry Toshiko.

Thanks for doing it.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the interview. Thanks.

spacelounge said...

Anon #1: Thanks! I agree, Samurai's products are very exciting for some reason, I can't really put my finger on it.
I like Flat Head and Ironheart as well, though.

Henrik, you're in Osaka?! You should go visit the flagship stores of all these denim brands!

thanks adrian and anon #3. Glad you liked it.

Anonymous said...

arrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh...i go crazy with samurai jeans..especialy..s5000vx.i do have a pair of to shrink 36-7.smaller..n when can i have s7000vx on sale..can wait to have it...ady from malaysia.arigato samuarai.

Anonymous said...

nice work hardly notice it..ady from malaysia..i have s5000vx lot#8 size 40 tag...wana loose i think...just add me at facebook acct..= sayalah ady.just type sayalah ady..n add me

viagra online said...

great interview... I think I it has been one of the best interviews of Toshiko. jut good, keep doing this

Thanks for doing it. said...

To my mind one and all must go through this.