Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pure Blue Japan

One of my first stops in Harajuku was Pure Blue Japan's store. PBJ is akin to UES, 45rpm, Kato, Kapital etc. in that they use old dyeing, weaving and sewing techniques but then come up with their own patterns and designs, which may or may not be inspired by an original vintage garment.
So, if you really dig retro style but can't go all the way with the high waists and so on, the aformentioned brands are perfect for you!

For example, have a look at the jeans from PBJ.

PBJ has three different cuts, all available in three different denims. From left to right is a denim with an indigo-dyed weft, a vintage-type denim and the slubby denim that sets Pure Blue Japan apart from other brands. All of these denims are equally slubby, and to be honest, it's a bit much for me right now as I've already tasted it in the Samurai S0500 Texas denim, but it's just a preference. If the dark, tight weave is boring to you, go ahead and try PBJ!

The fits are regular straight, slim straight and slim bootcut. I do however feel that the regular cut could pass as slim and the slim as skinny, but it depends on how you size the jeans.
The rise is medium to low, proportionate to how full the cut is.

PBJ keeps a collection of vintage Levi's in their store and it shows how their jeans make you a modern cowboy.

Two of the jeans shown above are actually from Pure Blue Jeans. Can you guess which? And, which ones do you prefer the look of?

Okay, the answer is that the two pair on the top in either picture are PBJ's own. The first pair is the vintage-type denim in the regular cut, please compare it to the vintage 1940's Levi's below them!

The other pair is the regular cut with the standard, slubby denim. I was surprised that it was possible to get such a good vintage-look with it!
In the coming month a new type of denim will be introduced. It has an indigo warp thread but a purple weft. It is quite subtle and not at all in your face. It's practically impossible to decide which is nicer, the indigo or the purple warp, so you'll have no choice but to get both. So shifty..

Pure Blue Japan also makes things other than jeans. Take a second and look around their shop!

Very nice shirts. One of my go-to brands for tops, because of the nice fabrics and fair prices.

I don't believe the price of this pair is fair, though!!

Pure Blue Japan fading samples at J-Fabled

Monday, September 15, 2008


UES is a small, just two shops big, and interesting high-quality Japanese brand. I went to their store in Daikanyama today after looking at their homepage and used gallery many, many times.
I was not disappointed, the store is as cozy as the website and I found the best denim shirt I've seen so far in Tokyo, and I've looked at many, for example Flat Head, Warehouse, Studio D'artisan, Fullcount, Omnigod.

UES makes four models; 400R Regular straight, 400S Slim straight, 400B Bootcut, and A401XX Classic, which resembles a 1937 501 in details, but the cut is regular with a normal rise.
All models are unisex and therefore the rise on all models is medium height.
The denim used is a dark and stiff 14.9oz denim for all models except the A401XX which has a lighter shade but still stiff denim.
UES will repair all UES jeans and in their shop they had jeans hanging, waiting for repair. I looked at them and the one that caught my eye the most was a pair of A401XX.
It had been used for over a year and repaired many times all over, and I could tell that it had never been washed. I could knock on the denim and it would make a sound, like it was made out of wood. It was so incredibly stiff from all the built up dirt and starch!

And contrary to popular belief, cellphones in Japan are huge! They are in fact so huge that you have to buy them their own bib, and so I did at UES.

Tetsu thought my new jeans were too long, so he hemmed them for me.

He hammered the folded hem before he sew it.

UES website
UES goodies
UES at J-Fabled
UES fading samples at J-Fabled

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Change of scenery

I arrived in Tokyo yesterday, and this is where I'm going to stay for the coming year.
Of course, I managed to check out some stores even on my first day.

I found a pair of Evisu 2001 No.1 Special in a used-clothing store. What's interesting about them is that they had Levi's arcuates stitched on the backpockets, not paint and not the usual kamome gulls you normally see. Only problem was that the inseam was very short.
I'm going to look around if I can find more of these and also hear what they are and when they were made.

I also went to the Ralph Lauren store in Harajuku. It is of course awesome and I think they are the best American brand to do amekaji, american casual style. Better than Engineered Garments in my opinion.
I liked the Polo line, which is a little bit more dressy but still casual, as well as RRL. The prices were a bit ridiculous though, a one-wash pair of RRL jeans were 34,000 yen while Pure Blue Japan and Eternal jeans are 18,900 yen, for the same quality.
RRL also makes a very nice distressed and patched pair, but they cost 72,000 yen. Also worthy of notice is their waist overalls and the books they had in the RRL section, one called Rebel Style, displaying Marlon Brando's, James Dean's, Paul Newman's and Jack Kerouac's style, and a book with images similar to that of Library of Congress.

If you're on a budget, though, you can just go to the store next door, GAP. They're concentrating really hard on amekaji now too, and they have very nice blazers, oxford buttondowns and baseball jackets. The cuts are slightly updated and quite slim, too slim for my taste, but might be great for someone else.
Of course, they're also making jeans. They have one line which is made from Cone Mills denim in the U.S. The one-wash jeans cost 6,000 yen and the nicely washed ones slightly more. The denim is a bit thin, though.
They also have a premium line, also in Cone denim. It's more expensive at 20,000 yen, but uses heavier and slightly nicer denim and it has all the 50's details, but it's still not worth it compared to Japanese brands.

Nearby is a Lee/Wrangler store. I saw some 1964 Wrangler Blue Bells and 1942, 1959, and 1930 Lee Originals. Apparently they shrink more than I thought, because I've tried on several used pairs, which are perfect in 28, but the unwashed jeans are always too big.
One of the staff gave me his umbrella when I was leaving because it was raining. I'm going to return it today.

Almost next door is a Levi's store. The Japanese LVC range is slightly different. The 1933, 1937 and 1944 all look slightly different. The '37 and '44 look better to me, especially the denim.
I was expecting it to be just the same, so I was actually surprised to see this!
They also have a 125 model and a 1922 501 and bunkhouse shirts in other fabrics.

And lastly, I had my first Japanese ramen, it was cheap at 550 yen and very good! Let's get fat!!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Flat Head 3003XX 3 months

After the Samurai contest I needed a break from jeans and wore a pair of 1940's Blue Bell chinos a lot, and occasionally my LVC 1920 201s. After some months of just wearing what I felt like for the day, I finally got around to wearing my Flat Head jeans and have been doing so for three months.
I had seen pictures of the Flat Head 3000-series denim so I knew that it held its color well through washes. Lucky for me, because it didn't take more than three months before I really needed to wash my jeans.

This is before the first wash.

Compared to the Samurai Texas denim, the Flat Head 3000 denim is darker and less slubby, but it still has very pronounced vertical threads.

I washed the jeans in 40*C with a phosphate-free and of course also bleach-free detergent.

As you can see, the color didn't change much with the wash and that's the mark of great jeans.

At the time of writing this post I've actually wore them one or two more months and am waiting for them to dry after their second wash. They won't be getting much more wear after this though, because I'm getting another pair of contest jeans in just a week or so.