Kansai Trunk Show – West Coast Tour

We are packing up the gear and hitting the road; bringing some new and interesting items to the West coast.

Starting from November 18th I will be showing goods from Tezomeya, Mittan, and Brown Tabby Works.

Los Angeles – Inland Venice

Friday, November 18 4pm-10pm

Saturday, November 19 12pm-6pm

Facebook Event Page

We are still looking for venues to host us in Portland (November 25&26) and Seattle (November 27-29)
This event will feature goods by Brown Tabby, Tezomeya, and Mittan. As well as, paintings by Michael Brunswick, and repair art by me.

San Francisco November 22 – 23rd – Paloma Hayes  

112 Gough St. San Francisco, California 94102

Teusday, November 22nd 5-9 pm

Wednesday, November 23rd Noon – 7pm

Facebook Event Page

We will be bringing a few new Tezomeya items with. This natural dyed mountain parka…

… and this heavy-knit zip-up trainer jacket. And of course our standard organic cotton t-shirts, and woven shirts. Also some new women’s items and a long work jacket.

*old photos taken by my father, scanned by my sister. Please share accordingly.

The Denim Underground

I have just come back from dyeing indigo in the mountains of Fujino for my 5th or sixth consecutive year. It always feels great going out there and immersing myself in nature for a few days. Osaka for all of its culture is starved of nature and the outdoors. It also gives me some time to think about things and of course have incredible discussion with Bryan-san. If you didn’t know this is the year of the monkey which happens to be my year in the Chinese zodiac. The conversations this year weren’t so much on what has happened but where we are heading.

For the past few months I have been contemplating all sorts of random ideas and the thought of denim and fashion is never out of mind. The Weather Underground was a political group that took extreme actions but had fairly simple ideals. These kinds of extreme actions and simple ideas are quite apart of society at this very minute. So, that is where I developed this idea called “The Denim Underground”. Maybe it is a sort of anti-fashion anti-heritage idea, but maybe it really isn’t anti anything. I kind of like fashion in the regard it operates as the artistic expression of clothing, and what can be achieved psychologically by meditation-styling. Pairing your mood with your clothes for me at least, helps for functioning on a daily basis. Eventually someday I will iron this out and create some sort of manifesto or something…

Anyways… Damage and wear, and paint and patches. This is my jam. I love… no, I adore workwear. The function is obvious and specific. Workwear is also like this fantastic base for simple clothing. Pockets in meaningful and useful places, reinforcement points, durable fabrics. It is like the everyday persons uniform. Narita-san reworked these Kapital multi pocket pants for me. White pants with white patches and paint, for me this is bliss. It is so simple but at the same time looks fantastic. They’re not exactly dirty but they’re not exactly clean either. White is such an odd color to deal with… it’s this modern/heritage “summer” color that really looks better totally fucked up and dirty.

So this kind of balance between fashion (damage, distressing, whatever-you-want-to-call-it) and simple everyday workwear is the aim of The Denim Underground. Wash and wear. Patch and darn -and re-dye…


Re-dyeing is the ultimate fun part. Once you wear the hell out of your clothes, repair them, the opportunity of re-dyeing presents itself. You can dye with this curious red stuff called madder, this comes from the roots of an insignificant evergreen. Green, the green leaves of the indigo plant Persicaria tinctoriaAs the leaves of the indigo plant dry the release the most heavenly of fragrances and the gradually change from green to a very unusual dark blue. Recently I have started experimenting with over-dyeing some antique french linen night gowns and random garments. They come out looking fantastic after a few dips in indigo. The color is consistent and the texture is really lovely. Madder and indigo; the two most important dyes in terms of everyday clothing from ancient times to  now. Think of red and blue bandannas. In many ethnic and folk communities all-over the world you can find these two dyes and colors blended together in any number of techniques.

From my own research into the history of bandannas, the importance of madder dye is noted again and again. From India to Scotland, the color was the base for most of the textiles. Especially hard wearing ones such as rugs and wraps. It wasn’t until the invention of fastcolor (synthetic dyes) did people stop re-dyeing their clothing.


So here is a pic of the second year of doing Oak Street Bookmakers indigo rough-out trench boots. I learned an impressive amount last year dyeing them. These are them after they have been dyed, and rinsed. They are still wet and look much darker than usual. This project has been incredibly interesting working on. The variations in the hides, brings out the individual uniqueness in each pair. Sometimes the pairs don’t even come out matched completely, which I think makes these boots very personal and very interesting. Definitely something I would include to be apart of the philosophy of The Denim Underground.


But before I nod off, I want to explain this amazing piece of clothing. It comes from Albania, it is from the 1800’s its made from yaks wool and there are apparently only two of these in existence currently. This is one of them. The other is in a museum somewhere. It is a piece of folk clothing made in one small village somewhere in Albania. It really blows my mind that there is still stuff like this out there. Sitting in some cedar chest… You can see it is hand-spun and hand-woven which equates to an extraordinary amount of time. Not only in actually making it, but learning the skills to make it. It is simply pure function, every part has been designed around functionality and durability. Also the silhouette and structure is similar to Japanese fishermans work jackets with the shorter sleeves, mid-length and massive weight. Very interesting…


Sadogashima, Denim, Farming, and Autumn Weather

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Off on another adventure into unknown territory. This time to Sadogashima, off the coast of Niigata prefecture. Accessible by ferry or hydrofoil it is the exile island of Japan. I felt very much at home in this environment. Consisting of beautiful coastal towns  buried between the sea and the mountains, it is a picture-postcard image of Japan. The fishing village, and farming town rolled into one. Although I am not much of a biker, I can imagine how fantastic it would be to ride motorcycles around the island for a week. Stopping in little towns doing a little farm work in exchange for food and drink.

Crops from the mountains hanging next to the ship launch, the atmosphere is visual and aesthetically mixed of mountain and sea. The colors and textures for the photographer and textile hunter are everywhere, almost like a natural gallery. If you have been watching my Instagram you might have seen me getting my hands and jeans dirty with some rice farming. I have been giving my Kapital indigo x indigo jeans a hearty workout.


The colors of fisherman ropes, net markers, weights, floats, and boats is almost overwhelming. The tones are mostly subtle from sun-bleaching and weather. The reds are rusty, and faded. The desirable dirty-bene-iro is everywhere. Synthetic blue braided ropes, and grays hail to the sea.

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Turquoise mix with coral reds, like Navajo pawn jewelry. The concrete and sea-sprayed wood gleams silver in the fading sunlight.

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Textures in pottery are constantly in flux. As the cold smooth clay is formed, the shavings fall like blades of grass, and the cup as it takes its culture form hardens to a crisp cylinder. The cushion, the wood… everything near the bengara (red iron oxide) is dusted-dyed vermillion.

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Rusted metal among abandoned, and demolished buildings. Textures that only the sea can provide from years of wind and salty ocean spray wearing away the metal and cement. And when sunset hits you better watch out because the emotion is overwhelming. Those dull colors that have been hiding all day start to bloom and my camera lens can’t keep up with the sunset.


Kanekichi Knitting Factory

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Just an hour or so out of Osaka there is the city (prefecture of the same name) of Wakayama. Just outside the city I had the esteemed pleasure of visiting the Kanekichi knitting factory. Founded in 1920 they are one of the few remaining “tsuri-ami-ki” or loop-wheel knitting machine factories still around. They use old European and Japanese made loop-wheel, double knit and circle knitting machines. My eye was on the loop-wheel knitting machines, as these are the knitting machines that Tezomeya products are made on.

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The first thing upon entering the factory floor was the amount of cotton dust floating around. It is very fine and accumulates like snow on anything sitting still. The noise is completely different from a denim factory or weaving factory, the sound is almost like a gathering of innumerable crickets.

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The products are incredible, and the sheer amount of variety of fabrics that can be made on these knitting machines is astounding. The most popular being reverse knit (sweatshirts), and loop-wheel t-shirt knits.

There are several aspects to these machines that allow them to turn out superb fabric. The first are the “bearded” needles, and they allow the yarn to be knit under virtually no tension by not pulling on the thread. There are more than 1000 needles on each of these machines. Each and every needle is placed by hand, exactly spaced by the craftsman’s eyes. A completely analog process…

The second aspect is that only one or two threads are being knit at a time. This process is slow, but the end result is a much fluffier material. The third is that the fabric falls onto a carriage that rotates with the machine. The fabric falls naturally and is not pulled, rolled,  or put under tension.

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The machines spin around under the top knitting mechanism, and is quite mesmerizing to watch. Since these are not modern machines they require a more craftsman approach to operating, and need more arduous attention. There were several factory staff constantly checking each running machine. After walking around and seeing the other machines I came to realize what makes the fabric that comes off of these superior to circle “sinker” type knitting machines. That, there is nothing lost in the process. If you put pure organic cotton thread on these machines the quality of that cotton comes out in the knit fabric. The only way to achieve this level of quality is through loop-wheel knitting machines.

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Kapital | “Peace Pilgrim” Autumn – Winter 2014


Despite the fact that my cameras and gear were now full of sand I could not help but smile… This was really Mongolia!

Peace Pilgrim is a journey that takes place in Mongolia. The Kapital collection and the location culminate into an extraordinary story. The new collection contains some interesting “rain tweed”, blanket liner jackets, recycled wool-felt accents, ethnic patterns, and as always amazing denim. Expect to see a plethora of new scarves and outer-wear, and some interesting new uses of Century Denim. The colors feel genuine and natural, and the beauty of Asia is what gels this collection together.

The pilgrimage migrates across desserts and plains, through dust devils and torrential rain. All the while, birds of prey fly over-head. Eric Kvatek gives a first-hand narration of the Mongolian experience.


I have always fantasized about shooting in Mongolia but it always seemed so remote, so otherworldly that I never really expected it to happen. But when Kiro told me that his inspiration for the current collection was the historic Silk Road there was only one place to shoot and that was Mongolia. Kiro and I agreed that the shoot should really be about Asian beauty and power and the historical significance of the region. 

During my time in Mongolia I was witnessing all the glories of Spring. All around there were horses, camels and goats giving birth. I saw streams form overnight as giant rain clouds moved through. Barren areas that I scouted suddenly were green by the time we were shooting. I cast herders and cowboys to be models but two days later they were gone along with their families, their homes and their goats and horses. Fortunately new people moved through and they were happy to get involved. 

To get to our location we had a five hour drive in old Russian four wheel drive vans. Part of the drive was on a paved highway. However, the pavement would abruptly end and we would spend 30 minutes on impromptu dirt roads. We arrived at the location by noon and prepared for shooting. When I started shooting it was sunny with clear blue skies. By the time I finished the first model the sky was getting darker and a strange sensation was in the air. I looked towards the mountain to see a massive sand storm headed towards us. The wind picked up, I looked behind me to see a swirling dust devil, something like a small tornado. I suppose some photographers would have sought shelter but with the cooperation of the tough Mongolian models we just kept shooting. Then a lightning storm rolled in and it started hailing. Finally, I told the models they could run for the trucks and the gers and we sat out the hail storm.
Despite the fact that my cameras and gear were now full of sand I could not help but smile… This was really Mongolia!
Over the course of the next three days there were no storms, but the mid day temperature was over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. The entire crew was really challenged to keep working, especially the models as they had to wear layers of Kapital denim and wool. By ten o’clock the sun would set and finally we were all able to relax in a ger, eat mutton and drink local Mongolian beer together. Despite some language barriers we all managed to have some laughs and no one was eager to actually sleep despite the fact that the whole process would start over at 5am. I never worry about sleeping on a shoot as I would rather savor the location!

Something that was really special on the shoot were the amazingly close proximity of eagles, hawks and vultures. To see these giant birds of prey in flight and then have them perched on your arm is just breathtaking. One of the times shooting with the eagle a local hawk decided to pick a fight with the eagle and fortunately I caught it with my camera!



The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum

The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum is finally open. It has been a short journey, but a long time in the making. The current collection on display is of roughly 250 bandannas. The collection and museum is a product of Kiro Hirata’s passion and love of bandannas. I helped fill in the history, curate the bandannas, and added a few interesting pieces.

The age of the collection ranges from the 1850’s to the 1980’s; over 100 years of history. The collection starts with the beginning of the American bandannas coming from Scotland. From there, the navy and red bandannas from Davis & Catterall (Elephant Brand) tell the story of how the simple cambric discharged fabric was used as utility and then slowly became a part of fashion.

There are two floors full of bandannas. The first floor features non-branded RN# pieces, rodeo bandannas, and rare navy workwear brands. The second floor is all trunk up and trunk down elephant logo bandannas, a few rare other FAST COLOR brands, and 19th century Turkey Red bandannas. As Davis and Catterall was an OEM company there are many examples on both floors, of their work. The Museum is located next to the Kapital Soho store in Kojima, Okayama Japan.

As any other museum the collection is constantly improving. We are always open to accepting rare and interesting pieces to add to the collection.

The bandanna is an icon of America with a long and meandering history. Originating in India as the word for “tie-dyeing”, the colors and prints were embraced by the west. The Glasgow “Turkey red” cotton printing industry mass-produced the first bandannas we recognize today. It wasn’t until the 1900’s when a small company in New York City put an elephant brand on their product did the bandanna become truly American. The designs, colors, and prints have then since become a staple of Americana. There are innumerable designs, but the Elephant Brand has become synonymous with authentic American bandannas.

So if you find yourself in Okayama, please stop by Kojima (児島) and check out the museum.

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Lobby and elephant

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The collection on paper
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Partitions during setting up.
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History room
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“How-to-enjoy” the museum in Japanese.
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Selection of uncut bandannas leading the way to the 2nd floor.
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Trunk Up
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Trunk Down


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During the set-up phase
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The first floor showcase area



Kapital | Sailor Hakama Pants


First off I have to thank Cory Piehowicz aka Bandit Photographer for the photos he took in Los Angeles during the Inspiration LA weekend. He has a unique style to his editing and I think he captured the essence of what I was after. Thank you

These Hakama Sailor Pants are simple, but complicated in the way they are constructed. First off, the legs are each made of one piece of fabric. That means there is no outside seam. Secondly, there are six pockets layered like origami around the hips. The pockets add incredible versatile function to these pants. Carrying heavy items in the large side pockets doesn’t pull on the waist, and everything stored in the hip pockets are easily accessible.

The 10oz. sumi (grey) and indigo hickory stripe denim means they’re soft and comfortable. The silhouette is similar to hakama: high waist and weighted around the hips. Triple chain-stitched inseams, and bar-tacks on stress points are the high-quality finishing details. These pants are a really good example of what Kapital does so well, top-notch design and build quality. A perfect blend of Japanese subtly (color and simple design) and Western work-wear functionality that makes, perfect sense.

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Kapital | Kapital World Documentary

To some, Kapital is just another brand that makes clothes. For me, and I am sure for many others, they tell a story through documentary-style photos and unforgettable clothes. I think the prominent tool that Kapital makes great use of is the look-book. No other company around creates such unique and interesting worlds, that vary so dramatically each season. The brand has kept the secret recipe for their books rather closely guarded, until now.

Kapital World created by Hsiang Chin Moe (Kapital model and friend), goes behind the scenes of the photo shoot for the spring 2014 book:

Kiro and Eric meet up in France to shoot the Spring 2014 Kapital book, “Sailor Ninja”. Old friends return and new friends are made over five days of shooting in Paris, Souesmes and Cassis. In Paris, the Kapital crew focuses on Bohemian styles and French Ninjas. Slightly more familiar hunting themes are played with in the French countryside, of course with a twist. Finally, the entire production crew travels by train to the South of France for a nautical excursion. In addition to the details and logistics of a Kapital photo shoot, the nature of the fifteen years long friendship of Kiro and Eric is revealed.


Kiro begins by explaining how his clothes and ideas come together like puzzle pieces with Eric’s photography style. They start with separate concepts and once they meet at the location, the Kapital world starts to take shape. There is incredible creative chemistry between these two that took many years to develop. This fellowship has fermented and matured into a name that has become a cult-like obsession not only in Japan, but across the globe.

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Pairing the clothes with the location and the props, the story begins to take shape. Shooting begins on rooftops, with Paris as the backdrop and strangers become friends. Once the camaraderie forms, people settle into a groove and everyone seems to enjoy a few laughs. I found myself counting each time I snickered along with the crew. Beyond the infinite respect they have for each other’s craft, they have this boyish playful side that I think speaks through the pictures and clothes. The honesty and unpretentious approach to their work and life is what I think people should really take note of here. Strangely, this free and unbidden attitude is so hard to find in fashion and media.

Not only is there a glimpse into the backstage preparations and off-camera antics, but also an understanding of Kiro, Nicola and Eric’s longstanding friendship. Eric goes into detail of how the unsung heroes of the shoot also help make things run smoothly. Most of this documentary is the like an amazing expanded version of the last two pages of the catalogs. At its most essential, these are two friends who inspire each other and those around them.

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The film is brief at just 60 minutes, but it left me with a lasting impression of my two friends. Seeing them in their element, with the crew, and how much fun they have creating these books deepened my respect for their work. The soundtrack adds a dream-like flow, while the editing and style of the film kept my attention. The whole production is as friendly as it looks on the screen. If you want an intimate look into the Kapital World, and see how friendship (the secret recipe) rules this brand, this film is your window. This is a story I would have shared with my father, so this is a story I will share with you…

There will be a special screening in New York City on Thursday, March 6. For information about RSVP and to find out more about the film, please visit the Kapital World website.


Inspiration LA 2014 | People

So time flew… our booth at Inspiration was a great chance to meet a lot of fantastic people. We got a chance to demonstrate some dyeing, repairing, and our love all things hand-made.

When I did have time to go around and chat during Inspiration I often forgot I had my camera with me. These are only a few of the people I met during the two day event that actually ended up in digital memories. Thanks again everyone!


Yesterday’s Heroes Vintage

Raggedy Threads

Made Solid

Judy Auger

Dyer Brand

Kapital | Kojima Soho Store – Everything but the clothes

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Within the past few months a new Kapital store opened up in their hometown of Kojima, Okayama. The store was the local library and takes its name from the buildings original soho “赭” ocher color exterior. Welcome to Kojima SOHO.

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The interior is inspired by sacred Native American forests. The use of conifer wood and broadleaf wood was mixed together to create a harmonious forest-like space. The space stays to this wood theme, so even the metal bits used in the store are shaped to look like wood. Soho Store 7

The use of pages of this flower arrangement book became the shade for a lamp in the book store. The bookstore is a simple wooden space focusing and featuring many interesting books.Soho Store 11

The three kamidana that are in the main room have 3 different themes for their separate spirits. One for “blue sky” another for “star” and one for “clouds”. Soho Store 10

The clothes pins are also made out of wood and keep the theme and also create a sort of cloud space for the spirit in this space.Soho Store 9

It is a fabulous space, and Kiro took the time to show me around and point out the really special spots in the store. If you are in town please check out this wonderful space. Soho Store 14

A Film Journey – 3 Disposable Cameras

3 disposable cameras and a lot of miles, this is the culmination of those ingredients. No narrative this time folks.

Door Chicago Chinese Chicago The EL Orleans Pavement Obstruction EL Illinois Sky Straight Corn Boarders Blurred Galesburg Blues Singers Was an Overall Co. Was the Overall Factory Widow Seat Rode Hard Put Away Damp Samantha Communist Chucks Hollows Good ol' Boy The Dude Inspector Furuhata 1880 The Red Bottle SFPD Closely Cropped Tagged and Toasted Red Horns Brown Bricks

Kagoshima, Japan | Satsuma-Yaki

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Satsuma-yaki is a type of pottery distinct to Kagoshima. The style is muted, and simple. They resemble the folk crafts of old. Yanagi Soetsu, a great promoter of the mingei or folk art craft movement in Japan, admired satsuma-yaki. I visited two different potters in Kagoshima. One making a more simple rustic style, and the other the ryumonji or drip-glaze style.

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This piece is called “shark skin”. Just look at this incredible texture, its like a living organism.

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A modern gas fired kiln in a very small workspace. But the woman who does this pottery is very gifted. Some of the most unique and rustic work I have ever seen.
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“Climbing kiln” or in Japanese noborigama. This one dates back to Edo period, but has not been used in many years due to the intense labor, and its status as a prefectural cultural treasure.