Things are winding down after a busy summer. Looks like the Oak Street Bookmakersindigo boots will ship soon. Looking forward to seeing the reactions… Here are the pair of Kapital Lumber pants I wore when I was dyeing the boots. I like the way the indigo stains turned out.
I also spent some time dyeing these antique French Linen night shirts. The texture, and the gradation of the color close-up is really striking. Plus some of them have the most beautiful darning on them. The fine intricate stitching is proof people tried to take good care of clothing.
I am starting to realize that indigo dyeing is sort of like a hobby that helps me meditate and reconnect with myself. It may sound a bit new-age but whether you go hiking, or bike riding or escape into nature you’re really just trying to reconnect with yourself… especially since the world we live in is generally devoid of nature.
The Kapital Century Denim 123S after a few months of wear. The pattern has really come out in the sashiko, on the front side of the jeans. They have been washed 3 or 4 times. It was also a sunny day when I took these shots so they do seem much lighter than the actual color.
I am already working on the second pair of these in the new Okagilly fit. Which is a sarouel fit… and am enjoying this new pair more because of the fit.
Also I am planning a trunk show that’ll be in November. Stopping in 3 cities: LA, SF, and Seattle.
“We don’t have a theology. We don’t have an ideology. We dance.” -Power of Myth
Well, the wait is over… the cat is out of the bag. The new Century Denim is here and boy oh boy it is something. Starting with the fabric, I am sure most of you are aware that this is 100% original fabric for Kapital. The process includes 4 different, non-related factories. One thread spinning factory, one indigo rope dyeing factory, one weaving factory (on one loom… yes one loom), and finally a finishing factory.
Each of the threads are spun differently to create a specific texture and tension for this very special denim. This is an industry first for triple indigo denim. For the diehard indigo fanatics, this is your denim…
The threads are rope-dyed using 3 different indigo dyes. Kapital’s No. 1 (American Indigo), No. 2 (Japanese Indigo), and No. 3 (Hon-ai or natural indigo), are woven together to create this new Century Denim, hence the 123s. The first thing that may come to mind is the kendo-gi. But this is so much different, so much more elegant. The denim twill weave, mixed with sashiko thread is indigo heaven. The dye method and weaving technique are different and much more complicated.
For protective purposes, neither the dyeing factory or weaving factory would allow photographs. I will try to describe though words, the process.
The threads are rope-dyed in their three respective indigos. Rope dyeing allows the center of each thread to have a white core or in Japanese nakashiro. Over time and with regular wearing and washing the indigo little by little falls off and the white core is slowly revealed. In comparison to cheese, or hank-dyed items, rope-dyeing reveals much more thread texture and color gradation desirable for denim.
The fabric is woven on a specialized weaving machine, all of the Century Denim fabric is woven on this one single machine. The weave is more dense than previous versions of Century Denim, and the shrinkage is more consistent. The texture is also slightly rougher after washing, and the hand of the fabric is more comfortable. If the topic of weaving peaks some interest, and if you happen to be in Japan, have a visit to the Toyota Industrial Museum.
The crocking on these is unreal. Most contact in the raw state will leave blue stains on almost everything. Your legs will be temporarily dyed blue as will your socks, underwear, shoes, shirt, and jacket. That said, it creates its own very unique aesthetic. Two soaks will alleviate most of the crocking issues. I would recommend avoid tossing these in the washing machine for a while, to avoid marbling and uneven indigo loss.
There is no wear sample available, so how they will fade and evolve over time is the fun part. The Century Denim 123s will be available for a limited time from February 2016 (Update: Monkey Cisco Century Denim 123S will be available in limited quantities in May) in the Monkey Cisco fit. Which is a new iteration of the Cisco fit. Being the year of the monkey this year… The changes are somewhat significant, the rise is deeper, and the seat is roomier. That means the thighs are more comfortable and there is a slight taper from the knee. The leg opening and taper are still just wide enough to wear Pecos boots (my personal favorite). The full line will be released in August with the 2016 AW collection. For the time being keep an eye on the instagram hashtag #centurydenim123s and this blog for further updates.
The chilly weather has arrived… The outerwear has come out, and it is time to start layering again. This year I have primarily focused on dark indigo and deep reds. Combining the two to make a nice foundation for the next several months of personal styling. Kapital last year (and this year), made a very simple double indigo denim fabric (meaning warp and weft are indigo dyed). It all started with Ringo Man Pants, and this riders jacket (rigid). Starting off dark, the indigo quickly starts to get that shininess to it that is so irresistible. After a few washes the denim texture comes out.
Tora-san from the series “Otoko wa tsurai yo” wears one of my favorite styles. The tummy-wrap or haramaki has a slovenly image in Japan, but more recently some fashion houses have picked up on this vibe. The mamorior talisman hanging around his neck is the finishing touch. To make it a more modern Wayousechu vibe; replace the check blazer for a riders jacket, and change the lid to a knit cap or open-crown cowboy hat. The tummy wraps are available just about anywhere in Japan, but I opted to get a 100% wool one, that has a dirty-old-man vibe.
I found this piece of saki-ori fabric earlier this year and it has been my working color pallet. It almost looks like the cloud layers of Jupiter… Most of everything I buy will be color-based and fit-based from one piece of fabric, photo or theme. I usually incorporate form and items from a variety of sources. These Egyptian split toe socks are the perfect red. It is no secret I love Japanese movies… but more than ever I have been re-re-watching Ozu Yasujiro movies, the colors and shots in Floating Weeds are some of my favorites. You can also get some idea where Wes Anderson got inspiration from…
This KapitalJuban Shirt is the ultimate layering piece. With a mid-deep collar, light distressing and details it has been in frequent rotation. It is a great east-meets-west piece and not only comfortable, but also looks great with almost anything. As the name suggests the premise is that of a layer shirt, although an actual juban layer doesn’t have buttons.
Here is my own personal haramaki styling. One a heavy indigo, with a contrasting golden brown haramaki. Tezomeya indigo henley-neck t, and Mittan silk/cotton jacket. The second one here is the that hybrid Japanese-American style with a riders jacket and Kapital Nouvelle pants, that have a thick rib-knit waist band that kinda has that tummy wrap vibe. With a sarrouel fit they are slouchy, comfy, and just the right amount of modern…
adj. 1. lackinghueandbrightness;absorbinglightwithoutreflecting any of the rayscomposingit.
Black has an extensive history in textiles. Considering it is quite difficult to achieve the darkest black possible. Recently scientists invented Vantablack which is the blackest black every created by humans, it is made of carbon nanotubes. Interesting stuff… As far as regular dyeing goes… In general, before the introduction of logwood into textile dyeing, there were only two common ways to achieve black. One: taking a brown component like persimmon tannin and getting it as dark as possible by exposing it to extended periods of direct sunlight. Once achieving the desired hue an additional dip in iron mordant solution creates a very nice natural black. Two: dyeing it a dark blue or green (green being the more common) and then adding an iron mordant. Both of these processes create the two black colors that Tezomeya has available.
My Sumi 7S Century Denim recently underwent this process. I worked on the idea of dyeing these black a few years ago, but the texture had to be just right first. The result is wondrous. The brown peeking out from behind the black, and the indigo threads shedding their black covering looks incredible. Since we are on the topic of “black” I might as well mention how interesting this Blackfeet creation myth is…
The horizontal sashiko stitching brings out a very rough texture which adds some visual weight. Maybe I have been inspired a bit by the dark side of life…
Faded creases behind the knees didn’t take the dye very well, but left a nice subtle “Chashin” look.
Kapital made an interesting black jean for summer 2015. This version is a black warp and white weft, and given a nice distressed wash; it comes in this ashy color.
14 oz denim with nice contrasting stitching, finished with a rough-out patch. The new Okagilly fit is based around the old Sarrouel one. I really enjoy the irregularity of the fabric, with the dark color that is synonymous with the 80’s. Maybe this is a prelude of a new experimental style for me… punkfunctionalist… maybe… And one last idea of black, definitely read or watch Under the Skin
For about the last year or so George at Oak Street Bookmakers and I have been kicking around the idea of indigo-dyed leather. I had my concerns and decided to consult a few local indigo professionals and decided on doing them entirely in fermented indigo. This is the real deal… You can order them here.
I did all the dyeing myself at my friend’s house in Fujino, just outside of Tokyo. We tried dyeing the sewn uppers first, and also individual pieces.
Of course with leather, there isn’t much more you can do than dip them and rinse them and dip and rinse many times. Rinsing the leather was a key step in getting the color just right. You can read more on the process at Bryan’s blog.
The texture on the rough-out really brings out a nice color. The color isn’t a greenish indigo but a more denim blue hue. One that looks particularly good with the natural sole. I am curious to see how they will evolve over time…
Purple is a color imbued in mystery. In certain places and times the color was solely used by the aristocracy, for others it is a religious symbol. Most people would agree, that it has a strong image and a bold color. The color purple is by no means flashy, but deep and complex.
The dyeing process for purple varies just as much as its meaning. Tyrian purple was made from ground snail shells, which much have been an exhausting process, not to mention quite expensive. Japan and China used a method to obtain the color from certain types of insect galls. Gallnuts as they are called were found to contain a high amount of tannic acid which in turn creates iron gall ink, and in ancient Japan was used by women to dye their teeth black.
This is the same dyeing method used at Tezomeya to acquire Fujinezu-iroand Ebizome-iro. The first is a more of a grayish purple so the color no as bright. Ebizome-iro (pictured below) is a color that combines the gallnut and madder root to make a familiar purple color. The color takes in name from the fruit of a grape plant called ebikazura.
Kapital created a new purple denim this year called” No. 8“. It is a combination of the purple yam (beni-imo) and indigo. The resulting color is quite brown at first, this I assume is a result of producing a dye from yams. The wabash is discharge printed, and the lighter tones are pink! I quite like this color contrast. It is definitely much more unique than indigo denim with white stripes.
Here for comparison the different shades of purple. Combining purples with medium browns and light grays is an easy way to incorporate the color into your wardrobe. Natural purples have interesting gray and blue hues, depending on the light, so depending on the purple it can also be paired with indigo, and darker colors.
Over the last several months John and I have been working on developing a product. Since it was our first trial together we decided to keep it simple and do a pair of pants. I found this really fantastic hanpu or sail cloth mill in Okayama a few years ago. They use vintage Belgian looms and weave an incredible canvas on them. A nice sturdy canvas with just the right softness and weight for summer. I imagine this would have been the same weight that sailors would have used to make sail cloth pants during the age of sailing ships.
This same mill also dyed the fabric with kakishibu. This persimmon tannin does not make the fabric hard or stiff because it applied with a mixture of water and tannin. The color has a washed look to it which adds much more character to the pants.
The pants are finished off with simple metal buttons. The entire pants are sewn with 100% cotton thread. They come true to size and are available in 30,32,34, and 36 inch waists. The silhouette is wide with a slight taper to it, with a normal rise.
John Lofgren’s products are made in Japan and to the highest quality standards. The color and fabric combination have a nice mix of Japanese and Western style to them.
Change marks the passage of time; from one state to another. The transition of dark to light, to dark again. I have been on the move, and as always interested in trying some new things. Lately I have been intrigued in the workings behind kakishibu and the other tannin dyes used in Japan. In the previous Metamorphosis post I showed the early stages of the transition of a few items.
These KapitalCentury Denim Sarouel pants have passed their 1.5 year milestone. After the second coating of kakishibu more character in the denim has appeared. Whiskering has flourished behind the knees, and the thighs. A lot of the color change is due to heavy wear but also routine washing. They are also ready for a few minor repairs.
Remember that Jack/Knife Barn Jacket we coated in kakishibu? Well, we had one more that we wanted to dye black. The combination of persimmon tannin and wood vinegar created a brownish-black. The unevenness of they dye is not the result of a chemical wash, or bleaching. It is actually the natural result of the dyes. I love this imperfectness, not because it looks worn or faded, but because it is the natural result. I am hoping with a little time and wear, the brown will seep through the black.
This Tezomeya Tee has faded so beautifully. Regular careful washing and drying inside out has helped preserve most of the iron wood vinegar black. The persimmon brown base color has slowly seeped through and given the knit fabric a deep complicated texture. This constant transformation of the color is what I enjoy most about these naturally dyed products.
Up on the Etsy store we have a few special items available. These Tezomeya t’s are entirely sewn and dyed in Kyoto, Japan. Each color has a story, and a deep history in Japan. These traditional colours paired with Masaaki’s incredible shibori (tie-dyed) designs are unusual and beautiful.
I picked 10 t’s, in 3 different sizes. There are several variations but for now these are the only ones available. All of the shibori t’s have an indigo over-dye.
Here is some color history… enjoy!
Fujinezu-iro is created by using insect galls and wood vinegar mordant. An insect gall is a growth on a plant created and controlled by an insect. In Edo period (1603AD-1868) Japan, it was not only used as a dyestuff but also as was fashionable in the day, for dyeing your teeth black. The wood vinegar mutes the color to this refined, “shibui” purple. This color was popular among commoners as a substitute to the other, more expensive purple dyes during Edo period.
Kihada-iro is derived from the Amur Cork Tree in traditional dyes and its use in Japan dates back to the Nara period. But for cotton the cork tree doesn’t fast very well. The color is made by boiling dried pomegranate skin, paired with alum mordant. The color isn’t a bright cheerful yellow, or quite a cold mustard yellow. It is a yellow you would see falling from a tree or written in a poem.
Toki-iro is the ancient red from the madder root. We boil the madder root and use an alum mordant to make a deep red for silk, and a pastel red for cotton. The word “toki” comes from the Japanese word for the crested ibis, which has this enchanting red color quill.
So I thought I would shed a little light on what we are cooking up at Tezomeya for Inspiration this year.
We will be featuring the wide assortment of natural dyes. So look forward to the basque shirts.
We will also be featuring a new product that I asked Masaaki to make: a v-neck pocket-t. This will be available in the full range of colors and sizes and only at our booth.
Most of the other products I had featured this summer will also be available, such as the Japanese paper woven scarf, long sleeve and short sleeve t’s, and other goodies. So please take advantage of this chance to look at most of the available products first-hand. We are also planning on running an indigo vat both days and maybe even some kakishibu. See you there!
There have been more that enough things going on at this hectic time of the year, among them is getting ready for a debut at Inspiration LA this February. I will be introducing folks to two of my friends this year. The first is Narita-san from Brown Tabby in Osaka.
The theme is hoboro a portmanteau of “hobo” and “boro”. So you will see plenty of denim and indigo fabrics, plus plenty of eccentric stitching. There are a few secret surprises that you can look forward to at the show. Take a look at the hat clutch bags, hobo hat and overalls, and boro-bow-ties.
In the new Spring 2014 Kapital book Sailor Ninja, the Century Denim jacket has been revealed. It was an inevitability that it would be made, but fans could only guess which form and pattern it would take.
It is almost identical to the Lee 101J. The lines in the sashiko and the stitching lines on the chest flow well. The Century Denim jacket comes in Long and Regular. The long is a more modern slim fit, while the regular is a shorter boxier fit.
I had the opportunity to experiment with one early, and I tried a new kakishibu application technique. Persimmon tannin paste is a difficult substance to work with, but it creates a very interesting leathery finish. I wanted to try to recreate that oil/wax coated style jacket so common in the English countryside, but with a traditional Japanese method.
12/24/2013 was the release date for the jacket in both fits and both colors, there were special persimmon tannin events at the Kobe, Ebisu, and Nagoya locations.
As you can see the coating dried and is a bit shiny, but this will subside once I have a chance to apply the last few finishing touches.
The guys at Kapital Kountry have been experimenting with a spray kakishibu and I quite like how smooth the sprayed effect is.
Eric Kvatek sent me a few images to add from the new book. Both pictured below is the 7S and 5S respectively set in the French countryside.