Tough Elite Was Created With One Simple Purpose In Mind; Making What Founder Considers the Perfect Jean

Finding the perfect pair of jeans is not always easy. Maybe you can’t find what you’re looking for, maybe the jeans you’d set your eye on don’t fit you or maybe your size is just missing.

Personally, I often end up calling it a day, drink a cup of coffee and postpone my hunt. Yositaka Kuwata is different. This Japanese denimhead founded his own raw denim brand, Tough Elite, after going through this traumatising experience in the holy land of denim. That’s Japan, in case you were wondering.

Engineered to Perfection

Yositaka created Tough Elite in 2013 to supply himself, his friends and his growing fan base with jeans that fit the way he wanted them to fit.

As an engineer, he knew first-hand the importance of the right construction and the correct use of hardware and materials; in other words the key elements of every premium quality jean. Nonetheless, it took him intense studies to create his “perfect” jean.

In the spring of 2014, Tough Elite was ready to serve its first orders. Yositaka works on every aspect of the brand and its products himself. Still, when he needs a helping hand he relies on friends and family.

Tough Elite founder Yositaka Kuwata

Tough Elite’s jeans certainly look dashing on founder Yositaka Kuwata.

Tough Elite Construction and Details

Every pair of jeans is cut and sewn by one craftsman from start to finish.

For the overall sewing construction, a Japanese vintage single needle machine is used while, for chain stitching, the team uses a vintage Union Special 43200G. What else?

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The selvedge denim is sourced from Okayama and milled by Kuroki to his specifications. It’s a midnight blue, hairy beauty, which is a compliment in the world of denim, as you probably know.

The hardware is all made in Japan and the tack buttons are really something special.

Tough Elite raw denim selvegde jeans back
Tough Elite raw denim selvegde jeans front
Tough Elite raw denim selvegde jeans inside
Tough Elite raw denim selvegde jeans button
Tough Elite raw denim selvegde jeans bartack

The Two Tough Elite Fits

Right now, Tough Elite offers two cuts. The 7502 is inspired by the 1966 501 design and offers a silhouette that is as modern and contemporary today as it was 50 years ago.

The other, the 7501, is an homage to World War II cut. It’s a relaxed straight fit with many of the details you would expect from a reproduction. There is one big difference though. WWII cuts definitely have a high rise. Yositaka changed that and offers his version with a comfortable mid-rise.

Referencing Icons Without Being Too Serious About It

Yositaka is honest and straightforward, and his humour is quite wicked. His attitude and inspiration are rooted in the rebels of the past, real or cinematic, to offer jeans for the modern man. The Tough Elite name and the “for Victory” and “the refined rebel” taglines cast big shadows. But, Yositaka isn’t the kind of man to take himself too seriously.

A great example is the design of his back pocket stitches, resembling razor blades. It’s a little crazy, but it’s an earnest joke. While paying respect to Levi’s famous eagle wings, he has created something outstanding; something that is essential to most men’s life and inspired by one of Yositaka’s favourite Gary Cooper movies.

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Living the Denim Dream

Today, Yositaka lives in the Fukui prefecture, far away from big cities and surrounded by mountains and the sea. He is the boss of his own small company and also a farmer who tills his own soil wearing the clothes he created himself for everyday chores. Sustainability through and through!

When I think about Tough Elite, I think about a man I’d like to call a friend some day. The brand stands for hard work, honesty and idealism. Sustainability with no foul compromises. Something real your regular public relations and media advisor couldn’t come up with.

Visit Tough Elite’s website here.

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