Momotaro and Japan Blue: Tradition Meets Innovation
The Momotaro and Japan Blue brands were both founded in Kojima in Okayama, a place where time still passes slowly. The small coastal town moves at an unhurried pace from the rest of the world; simply being there can allegedly make you feel relaxed. It is a place where tradition lives on and artisans continue to weave their textiles meticulously using techniques passed down through generations. These jeans are “made by hand without compromise,” as the slogan reads.
In the 1960s, the young Japanese consumers demanded jeans and they were able to afford them. They imitated American as well as Japanese movie stars clad in denim. But it wasn’t until decades later that the quality of Japanese jeans equalled that of the genuine American jeans.
In 1980, the combination of ring-spun yarn and rope-dyeing had a second coming in the Japanese denim industry, a tradition that is continued by the Japan Blue Group.
Momotaro (founded in 2005) and Japan Blue (founded in 2010) are the only brands in the world where everything is produce under the same roof – not literally speaking, though. Both brands are part of the Japan Blue Group, which was established in 1992 by Mr. Hisao Manabe and today makes up four companies:
- Collect, the denim mill and fabric supplier
- Rampuya, the dyeing factory
- Momorato and Japan Blue the premium and entry price brands, respectively
The Japan Blue Group is not driven by commercial interests, but the four companies work closely together to create premium denim quality using traditional techniques. Let’s have a closer look at some of the signature details of the two brands.
The Momotaro brand is all about traditions
The two signature stripes on the right back pocket of the Going To Battle label is a reference to the Japanese Nippon flag. As a reference to the peach boy, which ‘momotaro’ means in Japanese, the inseam has pink stitches and the selvedge ID is a reddish pink as well. The pink colour blends beautifully in with the worn in denim, as you can see below.
Almost all Momotaro jeans are dyed with natural indigo. The fabrics used for the Japan Blue sister brand jeans are dyed with a mixture of indigo and sulphur to keep the retail price at a more competitive level. Still, this is not purely based on costs and economical reasons as sulphur is almost as expensive as indigo, but the mixture makes it easier to vary colours and the fading will be different.
Innovation makes Japan Blue more affordable
Japan Blue is generally a bit more contemporary and innovative in terms of details. The Japan Blue jeans are made on modern (and faster) machinery; the back pockets are made without the hidden rivets (which is a time consuming task), and the belt loops are simply folded, which also reduces production time.
Additionally, a poly-cotton yarn is used for sewing – on Momotaro jeans a 100% cotton yarn is used. Generally, the production process for Japan Blue is modern, up to date and very effective, which all leads to lower retail prices, without compromising quality.
When the Japan Blue brand was first introduced, the Momotaro name was used on some of the labels to rely on the popularity and ethos of Momotaro to vouch for the new brand. Today, Japan Blue is a successful brand in its own right, but we still see collaborations between the two from time to time.