Denim is a staple in every person’s wardrobe, and has been for decades now. From jeans and shorts to jackets and overshirts, denim is a tried-and-true fabric that can be dressed up and dressed down, no matter the occasion.
And although the fabric is typically considered an all-American classic, Japanese denim is actually some of the highest quality denim you can find worldwide, thanks to the unique weaving process that takes place on vintage looms. That said, if you’re on the hunt for high-quality denim that will last for years and years but are having trouble finding brands that measure up, you need to check out our list of the eight best Japanese denim brands.
According to Okayama Denim’s website, their FULLCOUNT denim line “was the first ‘Made in Japan’ denim company to use Zimbabwe cotton denim fabric,” and although it is now commonly used in the world of premium denim today, it was the owner and head designer, Mikiharu Tsujita, who revolutionized the use of Zimbabwe cotton denim fabric decades ago.
That said, you really can’t go wrong with any of the cuts of FULLCOUNT’s denim, as the company carries jeans available in regular straight, slim straight, and slim tapered; however, if we had to suggest one pair, we’d go with the FULLCOUNT New 1108XX 15.5 oz (Slim Straight), which features a five metal button fly, chain-stitched hems and waistband, and a goatskin leather waistband patch. Cuff them above the ankles and wear them with a pair of leather boots in the color of your choice, and top it off with a plain white tee for an effortlessly cool look.
If you’re looking for denim that has a ton of personality and eye-catching details, then Evisu is 100% the Japanese denim brand you need to check out asap. Featuring five different signature fits – carrot fit, slim fit, regular fit, cropped fit, and joggers fit – as well as a wide range of interesting details, styles, washes, and designs, you’re guaranteed to find something to fit your personal style.
Grab a pair of the Multipocket Colorblock Straight Fit Jeans, which boast grey and whitewash patchwork details throughout, for a fresh twist on a monochromatic street style. For those who want just a hint of detail in the denim, opt for the Graffiti Seagull and Logo Embroidered Carrot Fit Jeans #2017, which comes in a traditional dark wash and features graffiti detailing on the back pockets. Evisu doesn’t just carry unique jeans, though; check out their incredible selection of one-of-a-kind denim jackets that’ll turn heads no matter where you go.
3. Monmortaro Jeans
The official slogan of Monmortaro Jeans is “made by hand without compromise,” so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Japanese denim brand boasts some of the highest quality denim around. Available in a wide range of cuts from relaxed fit to skinny fit, as well as a variety of washes from dark indigo to light, Monmortaro has denim that’ll appeal to everyone, no matter what your personal style is.
We recommend scooping up a pair of the 14.7 oz Zimbabwe Cotton Denim Copper Natural Tapered Denim, which are made from 100% Zimbabwe cotton denim, feature a peach stitch at the right back pocket and a pink thread inseam, and come in old blue indigo, making it the perfect pair of go-to jeans for any casual or smart casual occasion. Pair ‘em with an oversized graphic tee and some sneakers for a seriously cool street style, or wear with a neutral button down and some suede desert boots for a hip, sophisticated vibe.
4. Samurai Jeans
According to their website, Samurai Jeans aims to “produce an outstanding product in terms of quality with vintage detailing” to ensure “beautiful fades through wear,” which is exactly what you want in a high-quality denim brand. Although the brand’s denim options are somewhat limited in comparison to other brands on this list, don’t rule them out just yet, as their rough, non-stretch denim is perfect for someone who loves the feeling of wearing a crisp pair of jeans.
Try the 17 oz Zero Model Black Narrow Straight Selvedge Denim Jeans which are made “firm five count uneven thread and woven by an old-fashioned loom under a weaker tension” – which gives the denim its rough texture – and pair with a plain black or white tee and leather jacket for an ultra-cool look.
See more about - The 10 Best Jeans Brands For The Denim Lover
5. Oni Denim
Oni Denim is “regarded as one of the most prestigious denim labels in the world,” so you definitely can’t go wrong with any of their cuts of denim – or their jackets, for that matter. While their jeans are available in a slew of different washes and cuts, including high tapered fit, clean straight fit, and relaxed tapered fit, we have to recommend going with the “Super Low Tension Beige” 12 oz Selvedge Denim – Relaxed Tapered Fit, which deviates from your everyday indigo wash for a unique color update on an otherwise classic cut.
These jeans are made from 100% cotton, have an incredible texture to them, “due in part to a highly technical weaving technique,” and have gone through a “one-wash tempi treatment process,” meaning these babies are as soft as can be, and won’t shrink when laundry day rolls around. For a monochromatic look that’s both minimalist and eye-catching, pair ‘em with the Type 2 Heavy Oxford Coverall in Khaki.
6. Japan Blue Jeans
Buying denim from a brand with a name like Japan Blue Jeans should obviously be a no-brainer, and thankfully, the company truly lives up to its name, thanks to its involvement in every part of the denim-making process. From choosing the cotton to spinning, dyeing, and sewing, Japan Blue Jeans has “full control over the jeans we make,” so you know you’re getting high-quality garments with every piece you purchase.
Boasting a wide variety of cuts and washes, Japan Blue Jeans will fit into any wardrobe, as you can dress them up or dress them down with ease. For a more casual look, opt for the brand’s classic Calif. Laguna 10 oz Solotex Stretch Jeans, which are available in a lighter wash that’s perfect for day outings; plus, the stretch on these guys will ensure that you’re comfortable all day long. Pair ‘em with a printed short-sleeve button down for a cool summer vibe, and finish the look with a pair of Vans or canvas skate shoes.
Per their website, Tanuki “brings creativity, passion, and boldness to an industry dominated by tradition,” taking pride in “the blending of sharp design and traditional high-quality garment manufacturing.”
And while there are many different washes and cuts to choose from, like regular fit and tapered, Tanuki also offers denim available in unique cuts that’ll add a bit of an edge to your streetwear outfit, like the RHT 150z “Retro” High Rise Tapered Jeans, which feature a subtle dropped crotch that won’t have you looking like you stepped out of an M.C. Hammer music video. Pair with a longline tank for a seriously cool look, and finish off your ensemble with a pair of high top sneakers or skate shoes for the ultimate laidback street style.
8. Sugar Cane & Co.
If you’re on the hunt for modern denim with a vintage twist, Sugar Cane & Co. should’ve been on your radar a long time ago. Their Sugar Cane 1966 Jean is modeled after “what the original 501 was like in 1966.” It’s made from a Zimbabwe & Texas cotton blend, is double ring spun, features pure indigo dyed yarn, and rinsed so shrinkage is minimal, meaning these babies will fit like a glove wash after wash.
Sugar Cane & Co. doesn’t just carry denim, though; they have an entire line of shirts, t-shirts, jackets, vests, and more, so be sure to check out some of their other products to finish off your vintage-inspired look that’ll be perfect for grabbing brunch with the boys or heading to a bar to catch the game.
See more about - The 10 Best Jeans For Men In 2021