When Kimono artisans start making denim

Kyoto Denim started as a Kimono manufacturer dating back to the Edo period, specifically 1688. While many of their competitors have gone out of business in the the past few decades, Kyoto denim is going strong. Toyoaki Kuwayama, the successor of this family business took the company in an unexpected direction by applying a laborious dying process known as kyo-yuzen, a technique traditionally reserved for high end kimonos, to denim fabric. The process of hand-drawing and dying each pair of jeans takes a full week.

Their main products are Jeans with elegant and traditional motifs that can be found at the waistband, pockets and various other accent areas of the pant.

Nukizome – Removing dye

Many of the patterns are made by first removing dye from the denim pant which is done using the machinery used for Kimono as shown in the photos below.

Products they’ve applied this technique to include custom made foldable chairs and shoji room dividers.

Yuzen-zome – Applying color

After removing the dye, craftsmen and women apply color by hand on every single piece. This technique is known as “Kyo-yuzen-zome”.

Custom products to which this “yuzen-zome” technique has been applied scrolls and Katana holsters, somewhat stereotypical but beautiful nonetheless.

Shinsen – Layering dye

This is a technique to layer another coat of dye on top of the default indigo color. Through the layering on top of the existing color the fabric gets a unique vibrancy and depth. To create an even finish every single denim is dyed by hand.

I particularly like the use of these fun hues on the series of plush toy collection:

The shop can be found 5min walking distance from Kyoto station and is open every day from 9am to 8pm. You can also visit their official site or online shop for more info in Japanese only.

Kyoto Denim
79-3 Koinaricho, Shimogyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 600-8208

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