How History Has Shaped Our Jeans (Part 4)
It’s been ten years since what we now call heritage fashion started gaining wider public attention. Chunky flannel shirts, wild beards, heavy leather boots and, of course, raw denim jeans. It’s a stereotype that challenges our perception of masculinity when it’s overly curated and superficial, which is when it get the label ‘lumbersexual.’
While media put heritage fashion on its deathbed a couple of years ago—I’ve been guilty of that myself—heritage fashion isn’t going anywhere.
One of the main reasons is the style’s target audience: +25-year-old men that “found” themselves in heritage fashion. They’ll continue to live it; once a man’s found his style, he’s not likely to change it. As someone way smarter than me once said, “fashions fade, but style remains.”
It’s also because heritage fashion is not really about a particular look; it’s about putting quality over quantity. It’s a movement, really. Once you experience the difference between a product that is the real deal and one that is an imitation, you don’t want the latter anymore!
The seeds of the heritage fashion movement can be traced back to the decades following World War II when the Japanese built a cult around Americana and denim, which eventually led them to start making their own denim and jeans.
The four parts of the series about how history has shaped our jeans are:
It’s All About (Real) Attention to Detail
A key ingredient in the Japanese recipe for heritage fashion is attention to detail. It’s not just something they say because it’s hip, they actually put an incredible amount of attention to detail.
My good friend, Lennaert Nijgh has been making his Benzak Denim Developers jeans in Japan since 2013. While he was developing his first collection, he forgot to include the hidden rivets in one of his sketches. In most places, Lennaert would have ended up with jeans without hidden rivets. Not in Japan.
When I got the prototype back, the jeans had hidden rivets, accompanied with a little note saying ’you forget the hidden rivets’,” he argues in Blue Blooded. “That’s one of the reasons I produce in Japan.”
It’s that kind of attention to detail combined with an immense respect for traditions that has the Japanese came to be the undisputed world leaders of heritage fashion and Americana style. But we need to travel back to the middle of the last century to find out how they got there.
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