The Japanese premium denim brand Momotaro was founded in Kojima in Okayama, a place where time still passes slowly. The small coastal town moves at an unhurried pace from the rest of the world and simply being there can allegedly make you feel relaxed. It is a place where tradition lives on and artisans continue to weave their textiles meticulously using techniques passed down through generations. These jeans are ”made by hand without compromise” as the slogan reads.
Momotaro is Japanese for ‘peach boy’. In one of the five great Japanese folklores the peach boy is born out of a giant peach, and he grows up to defeat the ONI and become a healthy and honourable man. In the 1960s, the young Japanese customers demanded jeans and they were able to afford them. They imitated American as well as Japanese movie stars clad in denim. But it wasn’t until decades later that the quality of Japanese jeans equalled that of the genuine American jeans. In 1980, the combination of ring-spun yarn and rope-dyeing had a second coming in the Japanese denim industry, a tradition that is continued by the Japan Blue Group.
This is the handwoven Momotaros. They’re not for sale in Europe, but in Japan they retail for what equals €1800, and if you want a pair your have to sign up for the 2-year waiting list.
Almost all Momotaro jeans are dyed with natural indigo including the Copper, Going To Battle and Vintage labels and most of the Gold label series, while the fabrics used for Japan Blue jeans are dyed with a mixture of indigo and sulphur to keep the retail price at a more competitive level. Still, this is not purely based on costs and economical reasons as sulphur is almost as expensive as indigo, but the mixture makes it easier to vary colours and the fading will be different.
Japan Blue is generally a bit more contemporary and innovative in terms of details, and for instance is only on Momotaro jeans you will find hidden rivets. Japan Blue jeans are made on modern (and faster) machinery, and back pocket construction without the hidden rivets (which is a time consuming task) and simple folded belt loops reduces production time. Also, a poly-cotton yarn is used for sewing – on Momotaro jeans a 100% cotton yarn is used. Generally, the production process for Japan Blue is modern, up to date and very effective, which all leads to lower retail prices, without compromising quality.
Momotaro (founded in 2005) and Japan Blue (founded in 2010) are the only brands in the world to produce everything under the same roof (not literally speaking though). The Japan Blue Group was established in 1992 by Mr. Hisao Manabe and today it’s made up by four companies: Collect, the denim mill and fabric supplier; Rampuya, the dyeing factory; and Momorato and Japan Blue as the premium and entry price jeans brands. The Group is not driven by commercial interests but the four companies work closely together to create premium denim quality using traditional techniques.