Wayousechu is a topic I have touched on before. I have witnessed this style increasing in scattered posts across the internet. John Mayer may possibly the most well-known for it, in a recent GQ article the writer points out John’s love of the noragi. It isn’t really a noragi… but let that slide. What is important, is silhouette, collar, unfitted sleeves and the simple structure of the garment. These details I will coin as “wayo-ism”, and the next iteration of east-meets-west style…
John isn’t the only one to be on a bender of east and west. The sheer number of people wearing indigo sashiko kendo-gi lately is astounding. I am not sure if it is for function (comfort) or for just the general fad in denim fashion. Everywhere you look these days Kapital, Visvim, Old Park, etc there is a strong presence of some type of traditional Japanese garment influence.
Kapital has really done some nice knit pieces this year utilizing this “noragi” style. Kapital calls them “kesa” which is more like a Buddhist monks sash but again it is just a naming thing. Not important.
What is important is how comfortable and just how easy these pieces are to style with. Since the structure is relatively simple and the fabric which is a wool knit in this case; it is easy to pair with patterns and many layers. The tsugihagi version is more eye-catching and complicated. The sakiami is really beautiful, and I really love the texture of this piece. Sakiami is basically rag knitting.
The real big deal for Kapital this year is this incredibly huge shirt. Called a “Sloppy Shirt Coat” meant to be worn big (of course) and loose and deeply layered in colder weather as a top layer. I am continuing my haramaki obsession from last year as it pairs well. I think it could be styled well with a men’s obi or a cool piece of braided fabric (obijime possibly would look good). There are a few different fabric options and two sizes available. It is very comfy and it is exactly what you would want if you want to feel like “Six Foot Baby“. Again Mr. John Mayer enjoying the wide world of wayo-ism…
Last but not least is this new for 2017, Tezomeya china-button-loop-wheel-cotton shirt. This one is my personal design and limited to 10 pieces. Fortunately you can have it dyed any color Tezomeya produces. It comes in only one size but it will fit up to a size 44 chest. The sleeves can be shortened. If interested please send an inquiry through the contact link on the Tezomeya homepage.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I caught up with Masaaki recently about a few things before the end of the year. Some readers may or may not be aware that in Japan people tend to tie off loose ends before the end of the year. Especially since we are planning something big for early next year…
Please enjoy some of the simple beauty of the Tezomeya process, and some newly featured products.
Summer is finally going into hibernation, and a cooler autumn air has lifted my spirits. It also means it is time to play with more layers.
I have recently developed a deep affection for Tibetan bead necklaces. The green-tophus one was made by a very awesome lady in Tibet. More on her another time…
This Tezomeya broad-shirt has curious elastic stitching around the collar, cuffs and arm seams. The stretch and crinkling of the fabric is extraordinary, only time will tell how the color will evolve. The elasticity means greater freedom of movement, and the shirt holds an interesting shape. I wanted to bring this with me this summer but it felt out of season.
Kapital did this fantastic rain-camo western shirt. The slim western shirt fit combined with the camo is something I really enjoy wearing. It also means mixing it with other military garments will be a snap. I like how it mixes with the natural brown of kakishibu.
These wooden skull beads compliment the greens and brown of the camo so well. I really like the opal snaps. There is some obscure subtlety to this shirt.
The Kapital suki-yaki western shirt is one of my favorite things ever made. I love interesting new designs, especially ones that combine two very different ideas. One idea here is the samue and the other is the American western shirt. There are several ways to wear this shirt, I prefer the cross-over with a deep neck line. In a more Japanese style, it meshes well with Century Denim.
I love style that mixes well and doesn’t really have an era attached to it. This shirt is a perfect example of great design with the right fabric. The pattern must have been a nightmare to figure out but all the details, shapes, and placement of snaps is genius. You wouldn’t feel out of place wearing this in Kyoto or San Francisco. But maybe I have been living in Japan too long and listening to Neil Young too much…
Yagu is bascially bedclothes in Japanese. As to not waste even a single thread, families in the colder parts of Japan stuffed their sleeping kimonos with thread as insulation. Here the guys at Kountry replicated a similar effect. The various colored threads paired with the white sashiko and zig-zap stitching is original and the texture is so deep.
On the last day of Denim Bruin I had a small event at ABfits. I thought it would be interesting to show something new and interesting to the denim obsessed. Kapital released the Century Denim last year and because of the unique story and processes involved, I thought it would make an interesting subject. In my bag I brought my brush and kakishibu with me to the North Beach shop and demonstrated the simple coating process Kapital does to the Century Denim that adds some traditional protection to the fabric. It is also a simple DIY project that any one can do at home, that also inspires some creative persimmon juices to flow.
I handed over the brush to friends and attendees to try their hand at coating their own items with the persimmon juice. The main attraction though was seeing how the unique texture of Century Denim changed with the addition of the kakishibu.
After the demonstration I talked about the natural dyes that Tezomeya uses for their products. I briefly explained the history of the dyes, the methods used, and the adaption of those ancient processes onto cotton. Those not familiar with natural dyes or the colors of Japan seemed to be quite impressed with the dyeing process. I also touched on the differences in loop wheel knitting machines and the unique qualities of the falling loop wheel knitting machine.
Thanks for everyone who attended and special thanks to Ken, and Kyle for surrendering their 5S and 7S for this event.
Photos Taken by Mark Randal: Denim Bruin and Denimbro.com Organizer (Thanks for organizing the weekend, I had a blast)
Independence Chicago and this blog have teamed up to bring Chicago a very exclusive look at some special items not available outside of Japan. Readers will be already familiar with the stories and names, but most have never had a hands-on look. I want to extend my thanks to Independence for offering to host this event.