Back in the 1960s, Japan’s youth began to notice and demand replicas of American blue jeans that they saw in Hollywood films. But it was not until the 80s, when textile manufacturers began to incorporate ring-spun and rope-dyed denim, that Japanese mills were able to equal the quality and look of their American counterparts.
It was at this crucial moment in the 80s when the Japan Blue Co. was first started by Mr Hisao Manabe and that went on to create some of the world’s most interesting and cutting-edge fabrics. But perhaps Manabe’s most amazing innovation is his latest: the Shin Denim (Shin 新 means “new” in Japanese). Legend goes that this new generation denim was discovered when he was developing special fabrics for school uniforms that needed to last long and guarantee color fastness – especially when worn against white shirts.
The Amsterdam Capsule Collection
As such, Shin Denim does not leak colour nor does it fade, and is three times stronger than your usual denim fabrics. Regular denim may break after approximately 35,000 times of frictional strength tests, while Shin Denim resists breaking even after 80,000. But why does this count as such a big step in indigo evolution? Well, think of it this way: denim fades and becomes more supple with time. While we all absolutely love that, this exact quality of denim restricts it to relatively disposable commodities such as fashion.
But Shin Denim has changed the indigo game by making this most beautiful of fabrics usable for furniture, wallpapers and whatever else Japan Blue Co. will think of next. To demonstrate the versatility of Shin Denim, Japan Blue Co. teamed up with HTNK and Denim City Amsterdam for a special alumni design challenge. Four graduates from Jean School Amsterdam were asked to design a special capsule collection using Shin blues, by connecting Japanese architecture and philosophy, together with Amsterdam culture. The results speak for themselves – five beautiful pieces (rug, apron, pillow, jacket and bag) will be showcased at Amsterdam Denim Days during an exclusive exhibition at Denim City between 23-26 October 2018 and at Blueprint Festival, 27-28 October 2018.
It’s hard to say how denim will evolve over the next 30 years. Perhaps we’ll be 3D printing our own jeans? But meanwhile, we can already witness how companies such as Japan Blue Co. are already pushing the boundaries…