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I thought it might be a good idea to start a thread about Japan's first denim brand. When you think Japanese Denim you have to think of BIG JOHN. As a pioneer of Japanese jeans, BIG JOHN keeps challenging itself to be innovative while remaining 'In Tradition.'
What BIG JOHN has been loyal to since its start as a sewing factory is quality. Who was first? It seems BIG JOHN has got the long end of it…

 

A little bit of history:

 

BIG JOHN Corporation celebrated its 70th annversary in 2010. The story of BIG JOHN goes all the way back to 1940, when Maruo Clothing Company was founded in Kojima, Okayama, specializing in work wear and school uniform manufacturing. Maruo was the predecessor of BIG JOHN. But in the late 40s the fabric supplier quitted producing the fabric that Maruo used for its uniforms, so they had to change their business. Mr. Osaki – the founder - then discovered denim and he started importing second hand vintage denim from the US in the 50s. The American-made jeans were generally sized too big for the Japanese customers therefore the jeans had to be modified in the waist.

 

It wasn’t until the year 1965 that the first domestic jeans were born in Kojima, under the Canton brandname and the first ever Japanese domestic jeans were introduced in April that year. They received 50 rolls of denim fabric from Canton Textile Mills Inc. from the US and in October of the same year the first one-wash jeans were sold. This resulted from the fact that Japanese consumers who were used to second-hand jeans and felt raw denim was too uncomfortable. It was the beginning of the whole idea of “wash†that has become an essential element of denim design today.

 

BIG JOHN debut as a denim brand was in 1967 when they imported American denim fabric from Cone Mills and created jeans under the original label (the prototype from 1967 was completely US-made).

RURI is BIG JOHN's original 14.5 oz sanforized selvedge denim. It’s a replication of the fabric color of the first BIG JOHN jeans released in 1967. This was also the best selling color in the 70's. The fabric name RURI is one of the traditional colors in Japan.

-> Big John Ruri in the Regular Straight fit

 

1973: in cooperation with Kurabo, BIG JOHN was the first Japanese company to introduce a 100% all-Japan-made-jeans for the first time. At that time, Japanese textile mills had never officially produced denim before. It took them 8 tries to get it right, hence the name “KD-8†- Kurabo Denim on the 8th try. The jeans were an instant success and BIG JOHN sold like crazy during the 70s.

GUNJO, BIG JOHN's original 14.5 sanforized selvedge denim. The color of GUNJO is a replication of the very first Japanese denim used in the production of jeans, the KD-8. The dying technique at that time had not been fully developed so KD-8's blue was on the lighter side with a red/brown hue. In order to recreate this color they used indigo dye with lower concentration in the baths during the rope dying process. Despite the vintage color, the fabric is woven to have an even surface, giving it a modern appearance.

-> Big John Gunjo in the Slim Straight fit

 

The Kurabo Mills was founded over 110 years ago and it stands as one of the oldest manufactures of Japanese textiles today. The Kurabo Mill was the birthplace of Japanese selvedge denim and has pioneered many denim manufacturing practices that are in common use today. These include using natural indigo dyes as well as a unique denim spinning and dyeing process that creates a very resilient denim with unique fading patterns. The quality of Kurabo Mills denim has earned them the respect of denim aficionados around the world. Kurabo is most famous as being the denim that supplied Japan’s first denim brand, BIG JOHN. Today, Kurabo continues to works with many top of the denim brands in the industry including Baldwin, Epaulet, and many more.

 

What they have been loyal to since their start as a sewing factory is quality. Today, it seems that “Made in Japan†has become a synonym to good quality. Under the company motto “Quality Comes First,†they continue to explore innovations while honoring the traditional elements of Japanese denim. BIG JOHN goes deeper than just “Made in Japan.†Each piece of BIG JOHN clothing is made in factories with highest standards and extensive experience in manufacturing. They have helped these factories build up and worked alongside them for decades. That is why BIG JOHN is confident in the quality of their garments. From design stage until the end product, BIG JOHN never compromises in the quality. They believe that their attention to details is what makes our product stand the test of time.

 

Today, all products in the BIG JOHN collection draw on references from the history of the company and previous ground breaking jeans.

 

BIG JOHN also appllies their expertise in denim and love for denim into the wider range of wardrobe like the ‚Smart Denim Shirt ‘ or the outstanding ‚Herringbone Vests ‘. With Japanese design, Japanese fabric, and Japanese production as the core of the brand, BIG JOHN pursues uncompromised quality and subtle yet distinguished style in each piece of clothing they make.

 

Products: sunsetstar.com/Big-John-Jeans

Blog: sunsetstar.com/BLOG-Big-John-Jeans

 

 

 

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Good to see a thread for Big John - I liked the Rare model, sorry I didn't pick one up originally - Jon from Bandanna Almanac recommended it to me a while ago

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Don't know why it didn't get much love here in sufu :huh2:

Fading samples of those RARE R008 found on the web did look amazing though

r008-1years.jpg

imgeff872bczik9zj.jpeg

Edited by DDDm

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Thanks for the super informative post.  I'd heard the name but didn't know much about the brand.  The pair above are beautiful.  But I REALLY love that light blue color of the Ruri.  Putting this in the already cluttered "possible future purchase" corner of my brain.

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Those R008s are sweet!!!  Lots of cool details, but inconspicuous at the same time.

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I saw two pairs of Big John's at my local denim store. The light coloured (Ruri?) and standard (Gunjo?) version (I recall a lightning articlewhere they had 5 different dyes). Can't say I was too impressed by them, the denim looked and felt pretty regular and reminded me of Cone denim (however a tad lighter). Still, I was surprised to find them here.

Edited by Max Power

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Made some Rare 008 fit pictures pre-soak/after soak. 71kg/183cm. Full album: http://imgur.com/a/E1bci

 

According to Big John guys instruction: 30 degrees water @ 1 hour. Not much color in water, denim color also didn't changed much. But waist/length shrink is significant. Actually it can be too much for taller guys. 

 

8oTah64.jpg?1

 

9g12Y4g.jpg?1

Edited by BOPOHA-KAP-KAP

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What is going on with the left leg honeycombs on that pair of R008 up there?  That's really unusual looking.

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^^Lookin great, BOPOHA-KAP-KAP - been interested in a pair of BJ Rare. Do you know how much shrinkage occurred in cm (inches) in both the waist and inseam? I have hesitated to buy a pair specifically because of the relatively short pre soak inseam length. thanks

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^^Lookin great, BOPOHA-KAP-KAP - been interested in a pair of BJ Rare. Do you know how much shrinkage occurred in cm (inches) in both the waist and inseam? I have hesitated to buy a pair specifically because of the relatively short pre soak inseam length. thanks

 

Sorry, didn't measure them before soak. Just tried on them in the store and got the size which was a little big for me. There was a space for my fist in the waist line before soak and now I can wear them without belt (but why would I ever want to?).

 

I find sizing table in the bottom of this page pretty accurate for my size (30): http://store.bigjohn.co.jp/fs/jeans/c/R008

It can be translated nicely by translator build in Chrome, but here is screenshot just in case:

 

yYAA5Cp.png

Also you may be interested in washing instruction I've got from BJ via email:

 

Thanks for your email.

Regarding initial soak, we recommend soaking these jeans in 30 degrees water bath for an hour, then dewater them and hang up them to dry in the shade.

If you don't want get them "Atari" (the selective fading alongside the ridges on the seams), it would be better turning them inside out before do so.

We recommend do it again in 2nd & 3rd wash as well, then these jeans are ready for laundry machine. As you may know, DO NOT tumble dry at any time.  

Please enjoy the growth of RARE!

 

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thanks for the detailed reply. oh, and if you have a moment, what is the post soak inseam length? thanks

Edited by lance

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Since there's a Big John thread. I just spent the day with Kiyo from Big John so here's a photo! 

 

KiyoBigJohn_zps62782578.jpg

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Got any interesting insider stories to share, saintkeat? How many people do actually work in BJ now?

 

^^ lance, I will post measurements later.

Edited by BOPOHA-KAP-KAP

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Hmmm I'm not sure what was told in confidence and what wasn't.

If enough people are keen enough, I'll publish an interview with Big John ^.^

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thanks for the detailed reply. oh, and if you have a moment, what is the post soak inseam length? thanks

80-81 cm inseam (r008, size 30, after soak).

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Once more, thanks. Since inseams for all waist sizes are identical, post soak inseam length, using the same soak criteria, should have similar results. The length looks good for you. I am 184-185 cm also but enjoy wearing a longer inseam so I'll have to pass.

Edited by lance

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^ yep, wouldn't recommend them for dudes taller than 180 cm. This may be a japanese vision of a regular cut or they will stretch a little as fabric gets some wear.

 

Asked BJ if I should expect any more length shrinkage. Pretty general info, but may be useful for anyone interested in Rare:

 

Thank you for your inquiry. 

 

We believe your jeans would not shrink much more. 

But we recommend stretching the jeans after wash, and hang dry upside down in shade. 

Again, please do not use tumble dryer. 

 

Thank you, and hope you will enjoy your Rare for a long time!

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Can't miss the opportunity to bump this thread. R008 3 soaks, 1 machine wash (some time during 1 year) vs 1 soak (1 week):

 

TY8owgDl.jpg

 

YNrqOuKl.jpg

 

And some details of the old pair:

 

nfyaNULl.jpg

 

nf6br4pl.jpg

Edited by BOPOHA-KAP-KAP

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I just picked up a pair of the Big John x Rockin' Jelly Bean light indigo cheap and they fit like Siki Im peg legs or slimmer Levis 522.  Anyone got a bead on some info on these?  I am having some trouble finding out about these.

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Bopo, your images are dead for me...anyone else have this?

 

Would like to see the evo on these Johns.

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They were present this morning but now its dead for me too. From what I remember they looked pretty great. Seems like the Apr. 2nd images are still there though.

Edited by SuperJackle

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Fixed, sorry for that.

Bopo, your images are dead for me...anyone else have this?

 

Would like to see the evo on these Johns.

 

Can't miss the opportunity to bump this thread. R008 3 soaks, 1 machine wash (some time during 1 year) vs 1 soak (1 week):

 

c6v50Zpl.jpg

 

hNbLT9kl.jpg

 

And some details of the old pair:

 

zW5bUfsl.jpg

 

zv61bsZl.jpg

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the colour is really nice. can we have more detailed shots?

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oomslokop, I will keep that in mind. Probably will do alongside with shooting contest pair at the next checkpoint. Can't do it right away, because we usually use film camera and it demands some preparation :)

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to let people know that they're available at urban outfitters ?

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to let people know that they're available at urban outfitters ?

you sure it is Big John and not Big Juan, their south of the border line?

All jokes aside, I have seen some random brands at random places pop up, and then disappear never to return.  I saw OakStreet and Ace boots at Nordstroms for a week, and then they were gone.  If Urban Outfitters does have them, could be a one off thing so grab them while you can if interested.  

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