the-south-asian.com June/July 2004
Page 2 of 4
- the changing DNA
by Salman S. Minhas
New Kids on the Block
The Premium High Fashion Vintage Denim Jeans Fanatics [$200+]
Evisu began operations in Osaka, Japan in 1980s after several years in researching and planning to reproduce the perfect pair of vintage jeans. The founder-owner of Evisu, Hidehiko Yamane San, trained as a tailor. Yamane’s love for vintage jeans and his disappointment with the mass-produced modern versions led him firstly, to the vintage clothing import business and then to start putting together the elements required to reproduce vintage-style jeans. This required collecting old Union Special machines [ the Rolls Royce of sewing machines in the US in the 1950s ] that Levi’s stopped using in 1950 and which are required to make authentic vintage jeans. Ebisu, is the name of the Japanese Buddhist god of money who is usually portrayed with a fish and fishing rod. After launching "Evis", Levis sued the brand. According to Levis, the name Evis resembled their name. Yamane won the case because the judge thought that people won’t confuse Evis with the American jeans brand. Anyway the name became Evisu.
All Evisu jeans are hand crafted from vintage selvedge denim. This denim is made on old style shuttle looms rather than modern projectile looms. All the looms that make Evisu denim are practically antiques and about as reliable as a fifty year old car. As the fabric made on these handlooms is so narrow, Evisu needs around 3 yards to make each pair of jeans. To maximize the usage, the traditional method was to have a straight outside seam and cut right up to the selvedge so that when you turn the jean up you see the two selvedge edges of the denim stitched together. You can also see it on the inside of the coin pocket. In fact, Yamane bought the old Levi’s looms.
Evisu denim is indigo dyed. Yamane has his own plantings for these indigo plants. Dyeing is done by loop dying machines, which are also rare and ancient machines which feed a rope of cotton yarn through vats of indigo dye and then back out and up to the roof of the factory to allow the indigo to oxidize before the 'rope' goes back down into the next vat. Evisu denim has a minimum of 16 dips and some styles have 30 dips, hence the deep blue color. Evisu use 100 cotton threads, which are more authentic but break more easily during the sewing process. They reproduce the original production techniques at every stage. The Union sewing machines chain stitch the hem that makes the thick stitch line visible around the hem when you turn the jean up. Many of our styles then have the logo hand painted on. As a result of all this and a lot more other details [The pockets are, similar to the original Levi’s gold-seekers- i.e. lined] relating to every raw material and process, Evisu jeans cost many times the price of normal jeans to produce.
Evisu Jeans reflect the Japanese fascination with obsessive details & love of denim jeans. Denim produced on shuttle looms is naturally irregular [ like the south Asian khaddar /khadi] . This unevenness comes out as the jeans fade. It makes every pair gradually develop into a unique and beautiful pattern as it fades. The deep blue color and the way the jeans fade can only be achieved by using the loop dying system. All the other details give the jeans a combination of authenticity and the knowledge that you have something that is a labor of love that no other jeans or probably any other item of clothing, in the world can give you. Evisu understands that for many people these things are not important but for those who appreciate this level of craftsmanship, some believe Evisu jeans are worth every penny.
production line allowed about 14 pairs of Evisu jeans a day to be produced
and each of them was lovingly hand-painted with the now famous seagull logo
by Yamane-san himself. Evisu jeans captured the imagination of the
detail-obsessed, Japanese fashion crowd, spurring a revival of interest in
vintage denim. This craze has now spread around the world and the Jean names
described below are really copying the Evisu Jeans. In the early nineties
Yamane introduced a tailoring line, followed by his other passions, a
fishing range and a golf range. Evisu now has 25 shops in Japan. Evisu
outside Japan now sells globally in 400 of the world's best boutiques and
department stores. Despite phenomenal growth Evisu l remains true to its
artisan roots with a fanatical devotion to quality and authenticity while
maintaining those two other vital ingredients of the Evisu magic potion -
humour and irreverence.
A former New York 24 year female & LA student "Seven" addicts claims - "Sevens were amazing because they made everyone - big or small - look amazing," "But Citizens are even better because they hang low enough to minimize your butt, but not so low that you're showing off last year's Cosabella thong." They come at about $125. Citizens of Humanity jeans are adorned with a signature "H." and are available at Barneys- New York and Scoop.
These come in a special Pacific wash, double stitching in the waistband, and are on the large-huge size [Americans], as they run big in the thigh and butt area. Combining comfort with style, these are the perfect high-end jeans for the curvier females with thighs & behinds who have a hard time finding fashionable jeans. Additional three details about these jeans are :
- The stretch (2% polyurethane) for flexibility to contour to the body but doesn't feel cheap and super stretchy as Lycra can.
- The back pockets are larger and are not too far apart and therefore more flattering!
- The 33" inseam. One does not have to get these hemmed.
The darker Pacific wash, the lighter Colorado wash is a great alternative for a vintage feel. The Ingrid and Kelly styles are available in stretch and non-stretch. Kelly Rigids (100% cotton jeans) run small. They were much tighter in the waist and thighs. One needs to go up a size in the Rigids, especially if you are one who "just fits" in a certain size. After wearing them for a few hours they loosen up a bit. These are great for skinnier, shorter girls; the inseam is shorter than the Seven's. They also tend to flatten your butt if the size is too small. These jeans have a higher rise than the Sevens and are higher in the back.
Extreme Individuality is next in the battle to become the newest "Jeans" brand. The Atlanta-based fashion house Carpé Denim with a team made up as the brainchild of three young designers, James Costa (CEO, 26), Matthew Klein (COO, 22), and Greg Mensching (Chief Marketing Director, 21), Carpé Denim grew out of an experiment in self-expression. In 2001 founder James Costa, while still a student at FSU [Florida State University] and bored with the fashion norm, began embellishing his own jeans to reflect his personal style - more inspired, less conventional. The jeans were a big hit on campus and were soon in high demand. Costa eventually used the FSU student body as a test market for his designs. A Biochemistry major, he mastered over-dying techniques, taught himself to sew, experimented with finishing processes, which included the softening of denim through enzyme washes and cotton breakdown caused by chemical treatments.
Inspired by his new passion,
Costa acquired a production facility the next year, joined up with pals and
fellow fashion fans Klein and Mensching, and the threesome began developing
their original designs for larger-scale production. Today, Carpé Denim
products can be found in 20 boutiques in 17 cities in the US and
internationally; they also have two online stores [www.urbanbody.com &
Product differentiation from other Jeans brands is via their mantra: The Five F’s: Feel, Fit, Finish, Features and Fabric. The feel is due to smooth, double ring-spun cotton; the fit has been refined through extensive product development; the finish is achieved by hand and endures a 30 step process developed by the Carpé designers. Finally, no two pair of Carpé Denim jeans is exactly alike; each has a unique finish and custom features. Their self-proclaimed formula for success is "…all in the small details:" a truly rare boot cut and an audacious low-rise have been refined; wider belt loops, square rivets and fifth pocket embroidery have been added to the detailed ensemble. Carpé designers have also integrated signature rear patches to create a truly unique brand identity.
The Carpe Denim Jeans are named after popular Atlanta city streets such as "the druid" and "the lenox" styles. Listen to their marketing hype : "Our design sense and style is fueled directly from our passion for the lifestyles of the confident, young and sexy."
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