Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Acne can do it too

Depending on who you ask, you could hear that Acne is known for their great jeans, or you could hear that their jeans aren't anything special at all. If you ask me, I would be a bit more balanced and say that I do think that Acne was at a time almost revolutionary with their clean, well-fitting and nice looking understated jeans, but that there are much better jeans available to the denim enthusiast today(well, it was back then too since many Japanese brands are 10+ years old, but I'm thinking more of what is/was available to me as a European before. Of course, LVC existed then too.)

Acne has since taken a backseat and aren't really touted as a great brand for jeans anymore, though it is still very popular among the masses(not trying to be elitist here.) One reason is surely that the brand name is now so established that everyone knows it, that the fashion-y does not want to buy it anymore. , no fun in having what everyone else has. Another reason could be that the raw denim trend is turning consumers to other brands that simply use better denim.
Acne in general does not make me think of exceptional quality and I certainly wouldn't get a pair of Acnes as my project jeans, but there is a glaring exception in Acne's lineup; Moc Raw.
I'm don't mean to hype them or say that they are as nice as Sugarcane or the likes, but to show that Acne's jeans can also produce nice results. I would not try to break in any other pair of Acnes though, Max Raw for example is a monumental waste of time, you've been warned!

This if my friend Adrien's jeans, he wore them for about 6 months and washed them 7-8 times, because he wanted a lighter color. The denim still has a good amount of color in it, but the frequent washing kept honeycombs and creases in general from really forming and fading.

Comparing the denim to my S0500XX.

This next pair belong to Johan Rundcrantz who also has a blog, in Swedish though.
They have about 10 months of effective wear in them and have been washed 2-3 times.


I like the style of a some pieces in Acne's latest collections, AW 07 for example, because they do have some of a 50-60's feeling to them, even though the silhouette is often slimmed down a bit. I would say that Acne does well at style, but somewhat fails at execution - their jeans for example are made of denim that is not at the same level as their designs.
I am certain that Acne is would be very capable of making jeans that are top of the line, even in comparison to the Japanese brands, if they really wanted to - to be honest, I think they have to, to regain the title as a great jeans maker with a flagship model.
If they did attempt making a higher quality jean I'm sure I would like it, but I probably would not buy it, because I fear that they would be grossly overpriced, as I feel some other of Acne's pieces are. They certainly know how much they can charge.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Levi's against the world

Levi's filed a lawsuit againt a couple of Japanese denim brands a few days ago, from the owner of Self Edge;

-Levi's is suing your two favorite denim stores in America, along with Studio D'Artisan, Iron Heart, Toyo/Sugarcane, Oni (BS United), and Samurai.

-Everybody is being sued for trademark infringment

-All sales of the above mentioned brands are to be stopped by Friday, January 19, 2007 WORLDWIDE

-US and Japanese Customs are in on this, no jeans made by the above brands are to be sent out of Japan starting two days ago (January 15) to stores OR consumers. you've been warned, don't attempt to order your jeans via a bidding service or have a friend send them to you

-The offending points are as follows: 1. There are to be NO tabs attatched between two pieces of fabric on the rear pockets, 2. The cards hanging out of the back pocket, stapled to the pocket, must not look anything like vintage/modern Levi's Info Cards, 3. Arcuates on the rear pockets must not resemble the Levi's arcuate in ANY way shape or form, 4. Rear leather patch cannot contain an image of two moving objects (horses, motorcylcles, pigs, etc..) pulling apart a pair of jeans

-All product with any of the above mentioned accents must be pulled from the shelves of every store in the world by Friday, January 19

-I've spoken to most of the manufacturers named in the lawsuit in Japan already and they are quickly working on producing jeans with either NO back pocket stitching or stitching that is greatly different than the Levi's Arcuate. We are looking at a four week period where there will be very low stock of denim from these companies

-There are four more companies they're going after, i cannot name those at this time.

-This is one of the most comprehensive and largest lawsuits Levi's has filed against Japanese denim manufacturers

a few quick updates:
-this was a court order, NOT ceast and desist.
-Levi's is winning this, there's no doubt about it
-This lawsuit has been many months in the works, maybe even before any of the aformentioned stores opened

-cuts will NOT have to change, this has nothing to do with cuts, read my original post if you think that the cuts will have to be altered

-many of the companies named in the lawsuit have already sent me mock-up drawings of ideas of labels, stitchings, etc.. i have mixed feelings, but i guarantee what ever they come up with will be classic, timeless, and fit the persona of the designer. they take our opinions to heart, so you can know that we're not going to be behind any terrible outlandish stitchings. which by the way, nobody has yet to submit anything that's made me want to gag... you should have no worries...

I have to say it really doesn't come as a surprise since Blue in Green and Self Edge have been selling these jeans with the red tab and the Levi's-like arcuate. They had it coming for them and I don't think they thought that they would get away with this.

There are many ways to look at this - some say it was only fair that these brands got sued since they infringed Levi's trademarks, some rearrange the letters in Levi's to "Evils", some are talking about a boycott(let's be realistic here..) and some don't really care.

I personally think that it is just the Japanese companies have to pay up, after all they DID infringe on someone's intellectual property(whether intellectual property is a bad or a good thing is another discussion though) and should pay for that. Another thing to discuss is if it's really right that someone can trademark "a tab between two pieces of fabric" which is something that Levi's has apparently trademarked, not just the red tab and the placement of it.

On the other hand, I think that it is sad that some details that has added so much to the spirit of some brands, I think the biggest loser here will be Studio D'Artisan - the two pigs pulling apart a pair of jeans on the patch is just hilarious and probably why the SD-103s were my first Japanese jeans. Then again, they can still have pigs doing other things on their patches, so it's not that big of a loss I guess.

The Flat Head, Sugarcane and Ironheart are going to change the arcuate and patches on all their products, even for those sold in Japan. They are supposed to decide on the new designs tomorrow, hopefully we'll get to see them then too.
I don't really understand why they are changing also their Japanese product since Levi's don't have the same trademarks in Japan, right now I'm guessing that maybe the lawsuit was conditioned so that they would not have to pay up if they changed their accent details.

I believe that the rest of the brands will only change their export models, so I don't think this thing is really as big as it sounds. I think you will still be able to buy the same jeans from Japan.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Self Edge and denim in the press

The denim fetish of ours is getting more and more attention in the normal media. The latest article is from the San Francisco Chronicle, and it's quite big and one of the better ones I've read.
It talks about some basic things like the history of jeans, explains some terms and then goes on to talk about Japanese brands and what makes them so popular.

It also talks about the seemingly great party that Self Edge, a San Francisco store, threw this weekend. A couple of denim fanatics are also interviewed and asked about their obsession and why jeans are so special.

There are a few errors, not many, but it seems that's what you get when someone who isn't fully into something as complex as this writes such a thorough article. The only thing I feel is worthy to correct is the statement that Samurai is exclusive to Self Edge; you can also buy Samurai jeans and apparel at Blue in Green in New York City.

All in all I think this is a great article and if you ever have trouble explaining your obsession to friends or family, you could show it to them, because I think it is an easy and interesting read for both the new and the seasoned denim nerd.

The party at Self Edge must have been great, I was reminded of the party at Solo when looking at the pictures. The denim was on a different level at the Self Edge party though, they carry Sugarcane, Samurai, IronHeart, Sling and Stones(they've made the nicest jeans for women that I've seen) and The Flat Head. Speaking of The Flat Head, Self Edge seems to be solely responsible for making the brand popular in America. I remember a year ago when I was deciding on which pair of Japanese jeans would be my first, I was choosing between Samurai S0505XX, Studio D'Artisan SD-103 and The Flat Head 3001. I ended up getting the SD-103s first and then the S0505XXs, but now I feel like I should've bought the 3001s instead. Perhaps it's just a case of "the grass.."? Either way, they're all terrific jeans and like I've said before, the 3008 model from The Flat Head is very likely to be my next pair of jeans.

The Flat Head seems to be very popular after this weekend, maybe one of the reasons why so many people decided to get a pair was because of how the broken-in pair that Self Edge had borrowed from the owner of the brand himself and had on display looked?
They also had old IronHeart and Sugarcane jeans on display.

Picture courtesy of Tarmac@superfuture.
These IronHeart jeans had been worn for 20 months and washed 35(!) times.

You can see more broken-in jeans and a jacket from The Flat Head here, fit pics here.

You can find more articles about jeans on Blue in Greens website. The SF Chronicle has an entry about the party on their blog also.
The new Sugarcane jeans that were mentioned can be seen here.