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Selvage, set the record straight.

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Neil, thanks for providing an answer to the frequent question of whether the old looms have indeed turned up in japan.

is this the same Kato that's being stocked at American Rag? there's also the Kato, the denim mill, if i'm not wrong? or are they the same company

you mentioned "hank-dyeing", could you provide a definition for this? there's a mention of this dyeing method in another thread and everyone thought it was merely a typo of "hand-dye" :)

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Hi,

WOW...opened a bucket of snakes here...

Yes we will be in American Rag in LA from January, they have ordered quite deep with the denim and a few jackets and the new shirting and we do produce fabric for other companies as well, not to sure if I can list them here as I’m unsure of the site rules.

The idea that indigo and cotton came together to form Denim by the genius of one SF based company is one of the biggest PR wonders of the world, indigo has been used in Japan for over 2000 years, with this great history comes a knowledge on the processes and uses of the indigo. There are many systems used to brew and fix the dyes, one of the best is hank dying, the system is simple to do but hard to perfect. The raw spun yarn is looped over a wooden hook (this is the hank of cotton), washed spring water to open the fibres and then dipped into the indigo dye, it can be left in there for anything up to 48 hours then washed this time in very cold spring water and the process is repeated until the tone is reached, this can take some time, over a week of dying in some cases, after the tone you need is reached the hank is then steamed to fix the colour and then dyed still on the hank, this system allows the indigo to fix into the core of the yarn and is not as hard on it as a chemically fixing process would be.

There are many version of this dying system, using many different dyes and fixings, we use the traditional system as it’s kinder to the yarn and reduces the need for over starching our finished product this is also the reason we use a double harvested indigo and drop spun yarns. As I sure you all know the main reason your denim is ridged is the starching of the fabric to help cutting and production, a chemical starch will in time damage your cotton with the use of the traditional systems the need for over starching is lost, also we only product smaller number of garment so huge cutting tables are not used and there is no need to worry about fabric movement on the same scale

Hope this helped

Neil

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Kato was on the list of denim they'd be carrying at the new American Rag denim bar, I think. I'll have to check it out.

have a look at www.bomberairport.co.uk next season product is there

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As I sure you all know the main reason your denim is ridged is the starching of the fabric to help cutting and production, a chemical starch will in time damage your cotton with the use of the traditional systems the need for over starching is lost, also we only product smaller number of garment so huge cutting tables are not used and there is no need to worry about fabric movement on the same scale

Hi Neilfuji, thanks for your posts. Very interesting information - especially regarding the USA looms being shipped to Japan.

I'm interested in why the sizing/starch isn't needed? I was under the impression that the sizing was applied to the thread after dying - but before weaving because it helps with the weaving process?

Thx

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^ nope!

neilfuji, welcome to superfuture. i hope you decide to stay and school us on the more technical aspects of denim construction and production.

thanks!

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No, that's an overlocked edge

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so hank-dyeing is a general term for a dyeing system that has been adapted by many denim mills with chemical fixatives, etc.? the step of washing in cold spring water to open the spun fibres is very interesting - so the dye permeates through the entire yarn structure, instead of just binding to the surface. fascinating.

all this talk about "traditional" techniques sometimes makes me wonder - beyond historical significance are such methods really "kinder to the yarn", like you said? would we see an evident improvement in durability etc of the denim given a supposedly less abrasive technique of dyeing?

cheers neil.

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Hello Trinket

Yes a yarn is sized before looming but on a short loom/narrow loom with the use of a less processed yarn it's not that important to be as standardized as with larger looming's. As for starching, the starch on a tread can aid the looming by smoothing the thread, but again on a narrow loom not as important as in larger looming, you have to think size, we loom between 100-250 yards at a time with one loom and one person working that loom, with the smaller loom it’s as much about the weaver as the loom, but a larger loom may be producing a constant fabric run and not stopping for 1000's of yards, with one weaver monitoring the machine and the fabric you have a better understanding of the process and more control on the finished fabric.

As for the starching, in terms of cutting the patterns, again it’s all about scale of the process; we use a 36” loom or a 72” dependent on the finish and garment being made, so when we’re cutting we cutting a lower volume of garment using handheld electric shears as apposed to a computerized cutting table, with huge amounts of cloth and vacuum holding system. In our traditional system the cutter is close to there fabric using weighted metal patterns which holds the denim down we’re only cutting (max) 15 layers, the cutter can make any adjustments they need to make if the cloths moves (in fact the over starch cloths move easier against each other in this kind of set up) so over starching is not needed, don’t get me wrong our ridged denim is as ridged as it need to be but it softens better and moulds it self to the wearer quicker thus making it a more comfortable garment but with out the harsh starch the cotton keep it natural strength.

As for ‘denimdestroyedmylife’ thank you for letting me share, right now I’m not to busy and I love to talk about denim, this site is great as I’m learning more with each visit, I tell my sales all the time it not about the stores it about the people who buy the garments, the end user and this is great way to see what is being said and to get a bead on the people who make it all work…..plus I love to share, information is power, so I’m happy to offer what little I can.

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on another note, some time ago a superfuture forum member posted about finding some "Kato-designed denim" milled in India, by a firm called Arvind. are we talking the same Kato here? :)

http://www.superfuture.com/supertalk/showthread.php?t=9800

yes we do do some work with Arvind, it's there mill but Mr K does consult with them

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Tweedlesinpink,

Thank you for asking.....at Kato' Mr K is working on many other system of dying using the traditional processes, we've just done a double spun yarn which is core dyed, using the same system. Hank dying is the generic term, for the process, but not all hank dyed fabric use natural indigos or spring water, the idea of such small production system is impossible to upscale for the larger production needs of the new kings of the industry, where when they started it was common for them to use such methods now not sensible, we use them because of the product and the user, and will keep using them it may hamper the growth of the brand, but we’re not that interested in controlling the world of denim just making the best we can for the people who like it that way.

Also you pose a very good question, with the 'niche' denim market growing at such a rate (due to sites like this and a more open consumer) what is the best way to process the raw yarns and which is best for the garment and end user…anyone want to answer it? My view is to use the finest raw materials you must use the best production systems to maintain the standard, be to double harvest indigo, drop spinning or pot brewing simple is sometimes best

Neil

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denimdistorydude....

NO......lol

Drop spinning is a very old process where gravity and a spinning bobbin spins your yarn, not that mechanical and a little more labour intensive

Neil

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hahahahaha!

dropspinft9.gif

more like this???! forming the cotton yarns by hand and then spinning them like so???

forgive me, i'm a n00b. ring/OE has been discussed here a lot, but this appears to be the first mention of dropspinning. VERY interesting.

what other jeans have drop-spun yarns?

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Neil that's good to hear about Kato's dedication to the tradition. too many companies have ceased to listen to the consumer or even to evaluate their own products. companies like skull jeans, who maintain a presence on the forum, and samurai, who have agreed to hold a "denim competition" in partnership with 20 odd superfuture members, are holding the fort well.

you're using terms that most of us are unfamiliar with, expect plenty of questions ;)

for example, double-harvest indigo, and pot-brewing - i'm guessing pot brewing has to do with the production of the indigo dye?

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Yes denimdestroyed…

That is pretty much it…..little more modern spindles but that is how it works

And I don’t know of any other fabric producers who use this system of spinning, sadly

Neil

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Hello Tweedleinpink,

I’m enjoying the questions, should be working but this is a better way to spend my day…;:D

Right, double harvest indigo, is when the indigo plant is first harvested at the end of July, the leaves are young and full of sap, these are laid down in a dark place, a barn or under matting and then in august/September the same plants are harvested again, again giving younger leaves which are mixed with July’s harvest . these are then pot brewed to make the dye. Mixing these leaves gives a stronger sap level…sap is high in sugars which add the fermenting process in the dye brewing, a bit like the use of plums in Kakishibu dye/paint (also used in denim), this in turn give a better more intense indigo, without resulting to the use of black dyes to lift the colour. If fact some use sulphur to stop the process making a too dark indigo as it would become to soupy to use as adding to much water would just break down the dye, we’ve used sulphured denim this season and it give a good finish and a lighter colour without damaging the fabrics or dyes.

Pot brewing is when the dye is brewed in a pot, which would be buried in the ground to ferment; the pots themselves are highly prized collectors items which in the 80’s reduced the brewers in number, as familys would make more selling there equipment than making the dye.(boring fact, a few years ago a pot dated to over three hundreds years old was dug up in japan still with the dye inside it was bought by a well know company who made crap jeans out of it) there has been a drop in narrow loom weavers and pot brewers and dyers in Japan in the last 20 years it is becoming a dead art, most young Japanese like all of us would rather have a clean job…sad really that the growth of ‘niche’ denim and an understanding of the garment and production has come so late

Sorry of the point a bit, good to hear skull are still putting it out there, good guys, and great mind set

Neil

not to sure if any of you would be interested but I was think of opening the archive for kato and selling off a few bits…do you think this is a good idea?

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not to sure if any of you would be interested but I was think of opening the archive for kato and selling off a few bits…do you think this is a good idea?

Yes, with a capital Y

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Neil, you are most welcome to our friendly community. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowlege and experience. Of course, we are a bit behind the curve compared to some of the Japanese boards, but we like to think this is best english-language resource on the net. We've got some published experts and authors (like Paul Trynka) with us, some denim mill representatives (one from Italy and one from Turkey), and lately we've even attracted some Japanese enthusiasts and some Japanese makers to participate, despite the language difficulties for them.

I liked what little I saw of Kato jeans when they were stocked in shops like Liberty -- very innovative designs! --- so I was a bit sad when they seemed to disappear from the shelves. Who are your European stockists now?

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Hello frideswide,

thank you for you kindness, I too was sad that Liberty pull our range, but I was also upset with the pricepoint in there!

where are you and I can hopefully give you our closest stockest. The European Market is getting better for us there has been a lot of 'fake' high end denim and a few off key brands bring out there own rip off ranges as I'm sure you have all noticed, but thankfully the customer is getting wise to this and asking for better denim, after all the end user is the person we need to keep happy, I'm happy you like what we're doing, the range is a lot bigger than Liberty showed

Neil

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With all this labor going into your jeans, what is the price point on them... is it anything like 45rpm. Listening to the process of how these are made I would love to own a pair, but for like $800 a pair i don't think I could... $500 sounds about right.

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Neil - just a thank you for the knowledge drop - most interesting thing I've read all day. Cheers.

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With all this labor going into your jeans, what is the price point on them... is it anything like 45rpm. Listening to the process of how these are made I would love to own a pair, but for like $800 a pair i don't think I could... $500 sounds about right.

Hello Mr Switch,

We’re nothing like 45rpm, I understand your post and I find such thing a bit odd to say; better to ask..........

Our price point is $225-$650, I spend a lot of time travelling and doing store visits, I’ve even closed accounts because we've felt the price is too high, it's not allowed by the EEC to set RRP's anymore but I do have a right to remove my garments from an unfair retailer, as for the amount of work we put in....it's about the passion not just the profit. Even my archive prices are based on the wanted retail level.....

Our company has a saying, in fact it part of the basics of our business...

Man is just the tool for completing a garment....equally the garment can't be complete without the man wearing it.

To me it means if you can't afford to wear why we are making them!

Neil

Just re-read this and I sound a little angry….well I was…in the US your getting ripped off not by us (the brands) but by the customs with higher import duties and some of the retailers sorry I did not mean to be rude also sometimes it cost more to bring in from countries other than Japan for ‘so called’ Japanese denim that is made else where…

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I guess thats why it's cheaper to hop on a plane to Japan to go shopping. Thank you Neilfuji for your imformative posts. Hopefully the business end of the garment industry doesn't taint the passion of the denim enthusiasts.

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If anyone goes to Nagoya, Japan check out the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology were you can see the shuttle looms they produced before automobiles.

They were Toyoda at the time but have their roots in the textile industry. We visted the exhibition hall last year. They also have automobiles there.

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on another note, some time ago a superfuture forum member posted about finding some "Kato-designed denim" milled in India, by a firm called Arvind. are we talking the same Kato here? :)

http://www.superfuture.com/supertalk/showthread.php?t=9800

ozric, I wanted the fabric but he never got back, I guess he would have been doing us all a big favour lugging yards back with him to cut up and post off, would have been cool though. He was gonna email when he got back so maybe hes still out there, I dunno.

This a fascinating, informative thread. Warm welcome to neilfuji!

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Hello Mr Switch,

We’re nothing like 45rpm, I understand your post and I find such thing a bit odd to say; better to ask..........

Our price point is $225-$650, I spend a lot of time travelling and doing store visits, I’ve even closed accounts because we've felt the price is too high, it's not allowed by the EEC to set RRP's anymore but I do have a right to remove my garments from an unfair retailer, as for the amount of work we put in....it's about the passion not just the profit. Even my archive prices are based on the wanted retail level.....

Our company has a saying, in fact it part of the basics of our business...

Man is just the tool for completing a garment....equally the garment can't be complete without the man wearing it.

To me it means if you can't afford to wear why we are making them!

Neil

Just re-read this and I sound a little angry….well I was…in the US your getting ripped off not by us (the brands) but by the customs with higher import duties and some of the retailers sorry I did not mean to be rude also sometimes it cost more to bring in from countries other than Japan for ‘so called’ Japanese denim that is made else where…

No offense taken. I am just excited to see that the jeans aren't as expensive as I thought they would be... now if I could just see some pictures of these jeans. Are they a more classic (levis) look or a little more modern (dior, nudies, etc)?

Also, I agree wholeheartedly about the man being a tool for completing the garment.

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holy moly (sorry for stating the obvious) but this is an oooold thread... it's taking me a bit of time catching up to the convo.

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