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Guest Raul

Italian denim vs. japanese denim

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Guest Raul

Hi,

I'm from Italy and I'm new here, but I love good quality jeans since a long time.

In 1975 (when I was 17) I bought a pair of Lee 200 that were a new old stock from late '60s. They were very stiff at the beginning, and I wore them everyday for several months. With time they got a wonderful pattern of discoloration.

All this said, I have a question for you: As some of you, I would love the idea to try to start a small production of nice clothes, a small run of good quality items, beginning with a couple of products, a jeans and maybe a polo shirt.

This idea is still in the very primitive stage, as none of us (me or my friend interested in it) is in the clothes business, but I wanted to check its actual feasibility before even thinking to do something in practice.

What I want to ask is which denim should I choose to make a premium jeans. I read that the best denim is produced in Italy and Japan. Being in Italy it would be surely easier (and cheaper) for me to buy italian denim, but I know the japanese are making wonderful denims. What I would like is high quality, selvedge denim.

Could anyone explain differencies between italian and japanese high-quality denim?

Any opinion and/or advice is very welcome.

Sorry for the probably dumb question and thank you in advance

Raul

Italy

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If you're making clothes there is no difference unless you are trying to sell to a specific crowd .

Otherwise your store/line will prosper based on other things like customer service , proper cuts and build quality ...

Also having a standard daily wear line like tees and quality sweats would be good .

Maybe even throw in some nice terry lined waistband underwear - boxer and brief varieties ..

Been done before but since I think youre serious about having a clothing line - why not touch all bases ??

I want a lifetime supply free for giving you teh idea though of course

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I spent a LONG time reading around on these here superdenim forums before i ventured into that universe. I ended up with Japanese denim/fabrication, but i never really took a close look at what Italian mills had to offer. I'm too fascinated with all that Japanese mystery/history/etc ;)

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Raul - welcome to superfuture!

personally i prefer japanese denim, although i am sure there is no significant differences in quality between the two. i am sure you will be able to find high quality and selvedge denim in italy easily, especially since you already live in italy. japanese denim does have that whole mysticism about it, especially in their meticulous reproductions of the original yarn spinning, denim weaving and dyeing techniques etc. but beyond that there is probably little to separate the two.

out of curiosity, what made you and your friend decide to start making clothes?

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Now i have to admit i love Japanese mills even more. As a christmas gift they sent me a wooden shuttle! How happy can a guy get.

Raul - Do you plan on making your other garments, tees, etc. in Italy?

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Guest Raul

thank you for your replies, I didn't see the other italy-japan thread before.

threadtweedlespink -

that of making clothes it's actually an idea still in its very embrional stage.

I would love to make some nice garment mainly because since my teens I always loved good design and quality clothes, and also to own something not very common. So the idea of possibly making some nice product in rather small runs came to our minds recently. But I also know that (here in Italy at least) this is not a great moment for commercial business, as people have less money to spend, moreover we would like to start this "business" using as little money as possible, so not big investments would be put into it, so I still don't know if this will actually remain a dream.

Kaisha -

I was thinking about only a couple of products for an eventual start up, a high-quality jeans and a polo shirt. About jeans, if the italian denim is so good, I think that I should eventually make it here using italian denim. About the polo I actually have a precise idea about the kind/model of shirt I want to make, but where to make it it's still a doubt. I know that most brands have their tees or polo-shirts made in places like China for cost reasons, but I don't know if it could be a good option considering a rather small quantity of shirts done. For this I would need an advice by those of you that are much more knowledgeable than me in this stuff. I don't even know names/addresses of reliable chinese factories to ask for infos and prices. So any advice is very welcome.

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You do have a homefield advantage on that Italian denim, so if i was you, I'd go for it!

About that polo shirt, you can find Chinese factories that will do small amounts for you. The key is finding THAT one. I spent several years finding a good one, and believe there are alot of half-assed suppliers that will tell you one thing and do the complete opposite. Again, since you have the luxury of being Italian in Italy i would look at the factories there first, as it would be a great opportunity to learn about the whole "clothes-making" thing :)

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Now i have to admit i love Japanese mills even more. As a christmas gift they sent me a wooden shuttle! How happy can a guy get.

Kaisha - i will send my assassins over to collect said shuttle from your house...pronto. ;)

which part of the denim industry are you involved in, and where are you based at the moment?

Raul - good to hear that you're working to make a dream into something tangible.

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Tweedlesinpink - Based in Norway, and in the start-up phase of a label.

Raul - I'll answer in a couple of days... christmas and all that ;)

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personally i prefer japanese denim, although i am sure there is no significant differences in quality between the two. i am sure you will be able to find high quality and selvedge denim in italy easily, especially since you already live in italy. japanese denim does have that whole mysticism about it, especially in their meticulous reproductions of the original yarn spinning, denim weaving and dyeing techniques etc. but beyond that there is probably little to separate the two.

Whilst Italian denim may not have much in the way mysticism about it, Italy has an indelible link with the history of denim and jeans.

Italy has long had a tradition and love of the colour blue. Medieval Italy (or rather the fertile lands of Lombardy and Piedmont - as Italy wasn't united until late 19th century) was a major european producer of pastello also known as guado or perhaps more commonly as woad or isatis tintoria. And Italian merchants dominated sea borne trade in woad, selling onto northern europe. Of course woad was used to dye woollens, of which there existed a flourishing textile industry in Tuscany (and whose tradition lives on in Florence & Prato).

Rather serendipitously, the Japanese process their natural indigo in the same way as the Italians did. Instead of choosing the common method of fermenting the indigo leaves polygonum tintoria or Ai in water filled vats, the leaves are composted. And like in Italy, the compost is formed into balls ( Ai-Dama in Japanese or Palle o Miche di Pastello in Italian for transport.

With the influx of cotton coming in from the Egypt & Syria via Venice and into Genova from North Africa and from the Moor occupied Calabria and Andalusia - there grew a need for indigo, indigofera tintoria, as woad wasn't nearly as effective on plant fibres. (this mirrors the peak of natural indigo production during the Edo period in Japan, which was symbiotically linked to increase cotton production).

(Incidentally, I believe the Italian word 'cottone' comes from the Arab word 'qoton' - although cotton was also known in the Venice region as 'bombagio' from the Greek word 'bombacion' - which tells you of the journey cotton took from the East).

I guess the most famous link that Italy has with the history of jeans is the noun itself. Allegedly derived from the tough cotton pants or 'Genes' (blu de Gene) that Genovese sailors wore and brought with them to the Americas. I've heard some Italians claim that the distinctive 'watch pocket' was also a legacy of these Genovese.

In the Museo Del Risorgimento in Rome, there are a pair of workpants known as 'Garibaldi's jeans'. These pants known as 'Genovesi' (Genes/Jeans) were said to be worn by Giuseppe Garibaldi (the 'Lion of Liberty' - and Italy's George Washington) and his sailors in the 1800s.

There are different stories about the fabric these 'genes' could have been made of, from cotton duck, to wool. Although in Garibaldi's case, it seems that he wore indigo blue, cotton 'genes'.

However, there was cotton fabric called fustagno which has been called 'the ancestor of jeans'. Fustagno these days usually refers to moleskin, the hard wearing brushed cotton, but again, excuse me for the fuzzy history (I'm no historian), I believe, in those days, it was a collective word for hard wearing cotton fabrics.

There are dummies in the Luxoro Civic Museum in Genova from the 17th and 18th seccoli that look to be dressed in costume made from indigo dyed twill. A hard wearing, cotton twill, indigo warp, neutral weft....just like denim. A somewhat speculative link, but it may add some mystery if not mystique.

Jumping into the 20th century, Italy has been hugely influential in the evolution of jeans as an item of workwear to jeans as fashion. From it's domestic jeans brands of the mid 70s, such as Rifle, Jesus and Carrera came Fiorucci. Elio Fiorucci made jeans glamourous with sexy fits, multi colours, sateens and lurex and spun the jeans story full circle, exporting his designer-jeans back to their spiritual home - America. Diesel, Sixty, Replay and many, many Italian brands have carried on where Fiorucci left off. Italy continues to lead in the development of industrial washes and of course it's denim.

It's not too far fetched, if somewhat romantic, to draw a straight line in history, from the cornfields that surround the famous Italian denim mill, Candiani today, and think perhaps, the same fields cultivated pastello centuries beforehand.

By the way, good luck Raul.

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There are dummies in the Luxoro Civic Museum in Genova from the 17th and 18th seccoli that look to be dressed in costume make from indigo dyed twill. A hard wearing, cotton twill, indigo warp, neutral weft....just like denim. A somewhat speculative link, but it may add some mystery if not mystique.

That one caught my attention.

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not only does ringring know how to remove oil from denim, he knows the history of italian lineage of denim..giving you superpoints ringring/

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There are dummies in the Luxoro Civic Museum in Genova from the 17th and 18th seccoli that look to be dressed in costume make from indigo dyed twill. A hard wearing, cotton twill, indigo warp, neutral weft....just like denim. A somewhat speculative link, but it may add some mystery if not mystique.

That one caught my attention.

as it did mine...that's pretty interesting to know. thanks, ringring. :)

the heritage of the jean is actually quite funny - serge de nimes, genes from genoa - talk about globalisation. on a related note, is the origin of cotton duck known? where does it originate and roughly how long a history does it have?

Kaisha and Raul - please keep us updated! i'm always very interested by the various projects being carried out by people on the forum. happy holidays.

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Cotton duck, used to make sails for ships of all kinds, was in huge demand. By the 1890's, Hampden-Woodbury produced almost 80% of the world's cotton duck and was one of the biggest mill sites in the country.

nice one, Kaisha - thanks!

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Further speculation on the Italian influence on the history of jeans, prior to the French Revolution, it was customary for any well dressed gentleman to wear knickerbockers.

Before to the revolution, long pants were, apparently, only sported by sailors and 'Italian entertainers', which I've assumed to mean minstrels, jugglers and stand-up comics ; )

Anyway, some fashion conscious French Revolutionaries decided that wearing long pants would make a political statement, which worried Europe's aristocracy enough to discuss imposing a ban during the 1814 Conference of Princes in Vienna.

Anyway, buoyed by the Revolution, the fashion for long pants stuck. So you can thank them, sailors and some Italian jugglers that you're not wearing denim knickerbockers today ;)

And as an example of 19th century celebrity endorsement, Garibaldi's popularity would have been to jeans what Che Guevara was to berets :)

By the way, New Yorkers can check out Garibaldi's jeans for yourselves - there's a statue of the bearded pope-bashing freedom fighting poster boy in Washington Square Park.

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so much history beyond levi strauss and jacob davis...

imposing a ban on long pants? it seems like the edgy image of blue jeans that so many denim books talk about had somewhat of a precedent, a century or so earlier. :)

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And as an example of 19th century celebrity endorsement, Garibaldi's popularity would have been to jeans what Che Guevara was to berets :)

I think we just witnessed the birth of a new t-shirt hype..

shirt.gif

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imposing a ban on long pants? it seems like the edgy image of blue jeans that so many denim books talk about had somewhat of a precedent, a century or so earlier. :)

I don't think you'd get much edgier than Giuseppe Garibaldi in his pomp. Claiming Sicily from the French, pinning back the Austrian Empire, marching on the Vatican and offering his services to Abe Lincoln in return for a pledge to end slavery seems to put 'rebels' like Marlon Brandon scooting up on his Triumph, in some perspective :)

Nice Tee Tisswat. He looks like the Cheap Monday's fella ;)

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Um, in response to the OP. One thing you might need to consider are piece minimums. imhe, Japanese factories, especially smaller ones, are more likely to consider smaller piece minimums than most Italian factories. Of course, take into account higher freight costs, probably higher per piece costs, and definitely higher import tariffs, and it's quite possibly a toss up. Also, patronizing a factory close to home has definitely advantages - i.e. you can keep a much closer eye on things, although, by all accounts, the Japanese tend to be very punctual about all things -p deliveries, payments, etc... while the Italians are... not so much. Of course, that is the from the vantage point of a customer from a third country.

As for Japanese vs. Italian denim, I think that it depends on who your target customer is going to be. I would venture to say that unless you are going after a very specific market, it doesn't make a difference. You might even find some good Spanish or Turkish milled denim, which might be more price friendly depending on trade regulations within the EU (sorry, no experience there.)

Ringring, that is some very interesting information there... :)

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Here is a little history on Japanese indigo artisans taken from a Takumi Jeans hangtag

"During the Edo period (1603-1867), Tokyo shoguns prohibited ordinary people from wearing anything but indigo cotton and hemp. Consequently, a rich tradition of indigo dyeing developed into an artform that continues to thrive today in Japan. American jeans arrived in Japan after WWII. Then, local indigo artisans began creating American inspired indigo jeans that have gained recognition around the world for their quality construction and beautiful use of indigo"

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On 12/25/2006 at 3:14 PM, ringring said:

Whilst Italian denim may not have much in the way mysticism about it, Italy has an indelible link with the history of denim and jeans.

Italy has long had a tradition and love of the colour blue. Medieval Italy (or rather the fertile lands of Lombardy and Piedmont - as Italy wasn't united until late 19th century) was a major european producer of pastello also known as guado or perhaps more commonly as woad or isatis tintoria. And Italian merchants dominated sea borne trade in woad, selling onto northern europe. Of course woad was used to dye woollens, of which there existed a flourishing textile industry in Tuscany (and whose tradition lives on in Florence & Prato).

Rather serendipitously, the Japanese process their natural indigo in the same way as the Italians did. Instead of choosing the common method of fermenting the indigo leaves polygonum tintoria or Ai in water filled vats, the leaves are composted. And like in Italy, the compost is formed into balls ( Ai-Dama in Japanese or Palle o Miche di Pastello in Italian for transport.

With the influx of cotton coming in from the Egypt & Syria via Venice and into Genova from North Africa and from the Moor occupied Calabria and Andalusia - there grew a need for indigo, indigofera tintoria, as woad wasn't nearly as effective on plant fibres. (this mirrors the peak of natural indigo production during the Edo period in Japan, which was symbiotically linked to increase cotton production).

(Incidentally, I believe the Italian word 'cottone' comes from the Arab word 'qoton' - although cotton was also known in the Venice region as 'bombagio' from the Greek word 'bombacion' - which tells you of the journey cotton took from the East).

I guess the most famous link that Italy has with the history of jeans is the noun itself. Allegedly derived from the tough cotton pants or 'Genes' (blu de Gene) that Genovese sailors wore and brought with them to the Americas. I've heard some Italians claim that the distinctive 'watch pocket' was also a legacy of these Genovese.

In the Museo Del Risorgimento in Rome, there are a pair of workpants known as 'Garibaldi's jeans'. These pants known as 'Genovesi' (Genes/Jeans) were said to be worn by Giuseppe Garibaldi (the 'Lion of Liberty' - and Italy's George Washington) and his sailors in the 1800s.

There are different stories about the fabric these 'genes' could have been made of, from cotton duck, to wool. Although in Garibaldi's case, it seems that he wore indigo blue, cotton 'genes'.

However, there was cotton fabric called fustagno which has been called 'the ancestor of jeans'. Fustagno these days usually refers to moleskin, the hard wearing brushed cotton, but again, excuse me for the fuzzy history (I'm no historian), I believe, in those days, it was a collective word for hard wearing cotton fabrics.

There are dummies in the Luxoro Civic Museum in Genova from the 17th and 18th seccoli that look to be dressed in costume made from indigo dyed twill. A hard wearing, cotton twill, indigo warp, neutral weft....just like denim. A somewhat speculative link, but it may add some mystery if not mystique.

Jumping into the 20th century, Italy has been hugely influential in the evolution of jeans as an item of workwear to jeans as fashion. From it's domestic jeans brands of the mid 70s, such as Rifle, Jesus and Carrera came Fiorucci. Elio Fiorucci made jeans glamourous with sexy fits, multi colours, sateens and lurex and spun the jeans story full circle, exporting his designer-jeans back to their spiritual home - America. Diesel, Sixty, Replay and many, many Italian brands have carried on where Fiorucci left off. Italy continues to lead in the development of industrial washes and of course it's denim.

It's not too far fetched, if somewhat romantic, to draw a straight line in history, from the cornfields that surround the famous Italian denim mill, Candiani today, and think perhaps, the same fields cultivated pastello centuries beforehand.

By the way, good luck Raul.

I was curious if there were any Italian denim brands. Landed in this thread. This history lesson is far too good to let die. Wow! 
 

but if anyone knows about cool Italian denim brands I’m still curious. Haha

Edited by Ahlvahroe

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Fantastic bit of thread digging @Ahlvahroe  

As ringring says (and not suggesting I have anywhere approaching his knowledge) Italian makers seem to be more interested in innovation moreso than tradition, hence not regularly posted around here. Check out Candiani, a mill who are committed to environmentally friendly denim and made the first ever stretch selvedge denim. Their IGs linked below should lead you to brands they work with.

Blue Blanket is ran by an Italian chap called Antonio di Battista who used to be in charge of Energie - his stuff is heritage  

 

 

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