The suspense of the denim quiz is killing you, no?
Here are the answers:
1. Thailand, denim from the infamous fake Levi's jeans.
2. Japan, Samurai S0500XX Texas cotton denim.
4. Japan, The Flat Head 3000-series denim(wet dog-series).
6. USA, Cone Mills. Levi's Vintage Clothing 1963 551ZXX. Supposedly the darkest denim of all LVCs, not sure if it's true.
7. Japan, Samurai S0505XX.
9. Europe(Italy/Turkey?), Denim Demon Aajja second edition.
10. Japan, Studio D'Artisan SD-103.
It was hard, wasn't it? It really isn't possible to tell the origin of a piece of denim nor is it easy to pick the 'best' denim when you don't have a brand name or country of origin to go by.
I wanted to illustrate this and the prejudice against, for example, Chinese denim and of course that from other developing countries.
The only thing that matters is to which specification the denim is made. It is certainly possible to get denim from China that's as nice as the better Japanese denim, if you ask, and pay for it.
Cone Mills and Kaihara are big names and it's somewhat of a selling point for jeans with denim from these mills, but you should always try to look past branding and all types of labels.
Cone and Kaihara make a wide range of denim and I've heard that Nudie, Uniqlo, Levi's(for some jeans in their Vintage Clothing collection) and many Japanese brands get their denim from there, but they also make lower-end denim and I doubt that denim is any better than something from Turkey. It's evident that Kaihara makes many different types of denim, Nudie's denim is quite different from the Japanese stuff I've seen, and LVC's is quite different from both of these parties.
I think that a famous mill and brand name doesn't necessarily guarantee a high quality product, but will to some extent guarantee you won't get a really low quality product.
If I were to start my own brand today I would actually prefer to have them made in a relatively low-cost region(I think it'd be easier to enter the market with jeans that cost less than $300, but perhaps I'm wrong), if I could find a mill that was cooperative enough and easy to communicate with - I think this would actually be the weakest point of Chinese factories, some of them probably aren't all that dedicated to their work. I think that for the absolutely best in denim and workmanship, like exotic natural indigo dyes and autistic attention to detail Japan is the only choices, but jeans of good quality can come from all over the world.
For example, Filippa K's selvedge jeans and Cheap Monday's Latjo Lajban Vintage-line are made in China and while I'd never say these are top notch quality they're much better than some people would have you believe. They're easily as good as Italian-made goods(Italy feels a bit overrated to me by the way, I've never really seen great stuff from Italy).
The Chinese denim in this quiz is not the best I've seen and it was dyed with an indigo/sulphur-mix dye.
This is from China too and looks even better I think;
This denim is also from China, it's from 1996;
I hope this post made sense. If this topic interests you, come and discuss it at ringxring.