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Celebrating Japanese Indigo: the Uniform of the Edo

Inducing a sense of appreciation and nostalgia, renaissance is a romance with history, a rediscovery of memories laced with creative expression and intent. Drawing us closer to traditional values, rekindling our relationship with cultural heritage reminds us to appreciate where we’re from and how far we’ve come, a toast to enduring prosperity. Placing an emphasis on preserving classic craftsmanship, artisanal companies adhere to tried and true methods so that everyone in the modern world can savor a slice of the past and experience the vibrance of renaissance, and the Japan Blue group is an exemplary case of an organization that champions authenticity, with roots that trace back to the foundations of Japanese culture.

Blessed with peace, order, and a blossoming economy, the Edo Period (1603-1867) allowed fine arts and lifestyle in Japan to flourish. This movement of creative inspiration birthed the indigo dyeing techniques that gave rise to a thriving fashion industry, where Japanese fashion is still recognized today worldwide for its superior quality and stunning colors. However, aristocrats and ruling classes at the time placed heavy limitations on the stylistic freedom of commoners, only permitting clothes made with basic cotton or hemp and dyed with a few authorized hues–indigo being one of them. Yet this exclusivity did little to snuff the imagination of the civilians. Instead, the restrictions challenged them to explore a broad palette of indigos with a multitude of shades, each illustrating a unique tone and character, opening the door for a modern renaissance of the illustrious and esoteric art of Japanese indigo dyeing.

The creative spirit of the Edo, drenched in rebellious punk, erupted the popularity of the iconic indigo, a citizen color to the core. Due to the splendor and remarkable longevity of the resulting blue, many mill villages in the course of the era became recognized for their cultivation of raw indigo and manufacturing of dye. These classic approaches are inherited today by artisanal denim brands like the Japan Blue group, with the mission of reviving the magnificence of Japanese indigo. From the brilliant mind of Hisao Manabe, a master of textiles and hardcore denim enthusiast, the Japan Blue group is famed for top notch denim cloth that reflects the expert craft of specialists in traditional Japanese indigo dyeing techniques. Swearing by the historical practice of “ai-zome,” which entails a concoction of herbal indigo dye made from fermented indigo leaves, the company’s artisan dyers produce a deep, prosperous wash that ages superbly over time and fades into a prominent patina. Furthermore, selvedge denim spun from old-fashioned shuttle looms has a tighter weave and a supple finish, giving the luxury fabric an incomparable texture that finds the perfect balance between comfort and durability. Launching his first premium line – the renown Momotaro jeans – in 2006, Manabe’s work showcases the cultural indigo dyeing techniques that have defined centuries of style.

With a focal point on doing justice to the storied quality that gives Japanese denim its reputation, the production of Momotaro jeans calls for the input of several expert artisans, from cotton growers to indigo dye masters to denim weavers, in order to create the marvelous denim textiles that are as symbolic as they are beautiful. Following a high standard of perfection, Manabe guarantees that each and every step of the manufacturing procedure is accounted for to ensure the cultural essence of the final product. In this regard, the Japan Blue group embodies renaissance in their commitment to traditional craftsmanship, guided by a return to the roots of Japanese indigo dyeing techniques. This attention to legitimacy bestows Momotaro jeans with its luxury reputation among denim heads and clothing connoisseurs alike, an artifact that captures the best shades of the rich indigo.

Fashion is intriguing because it’s impossible to understand it without being present for it: it forces people to leave behind the confines of conformity and actually experience for themselves to discover what they truly enjoy. This capacity for individual preference breathes life into the diversification of style, and contemporary designers draw inspiration from a variety of cultural garments, presenting their personal take on the timeless trends that transcend history. Providing a sense of continuity and tradition, renaissance in fashion serves as a testament to elegance and enduring appeal, helping people relive the trends that illuminated the past. With this in mind, the legacy of the Japan Blue group is embedded in their dedication to produce only the best denim fabrics for the modern fashion scene to admire, honoring the genius efforts of the original indigo dyeing artists of the Edo.

As one of the most commonly worn textiles, denim fills our wardrobes with a splash of colors and washes, from dark indigo to faded lights, and we often find ourselves in a pair of jeans or a denim trucker on our way to an everyday outfit. But the Japan Blue group takes the denim fever to the next level: rolling back to the origins of Japanese indigo itself in a project that has come to define the denim standard. Constructed locally from the highest quality materials, Momotaro jeans are recognized for their exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail, and imbued in every pair, there is a story composed of traditional Japanese techniques, a manifestation of renaissance in every carefully-dyed thread. Spearheading the modern rebirth of cultural Japanese indigo dyeing, the Japan Blue group offers everyone the opportunity to flash back to the Edo period and see for themselves the beauty of the authentic Japanese indigo.

Written by Sam Koog


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