To most people Kurabo, Nisshinbo, Kuroki and Kaihara are exotic-sounding but largely meaningless words. To these same people, a pair of jeans is likely to be a nondescript, commodity product – something to do the gardening in or wear down the pub. But then, on the flip side, there are others who will recognise these as the names of the four main mills producing denim in Japan, arguably home to the world’s best denim.
Japanese denim is known for its premium construction and the skilled, artisanal craft required to make it.
That Japan should be the source of the best take on what is a quintessentially American product may seem unlikely. But strangely, in Japan, World War II gave rise not to some desire to embrace a more homegrown look, but that of the occupying forces. It spawned a youth cult for all things Americana and, a few decades later, a fledgling Japanese fashion industry seeking to recreate American raw blue jeans better than the Americans.