We are excited to introduce our newest brand: Tanuki.

Hailing from Okayama, Japan, Tanuki is a newly-formed denim label built on a collective of knowledge and a passion for quality. Founded by a group of gifted craftsmen, the brand prides itself on mastering every level of the denim process. With decades of cumulative experience in denim manufacturing, the “super-team” behind Tanuki is able to manipulate shuttle looms to create unique fabrics, sewing them into jeans that elevate Japanese denim to yet another level.

The foundation of Tanuki is their team of expert craftsman, who have experience in the denim industry from running looms, to sewing Kibata (Japanese raw denim), to managing some of the largest denim brands in Japan. For the creation of this project denim experts of all walks have come together to create a product that will bring Japanese denim to the next level. The artisans wish to remain unnamed because the product is meant to speak for itself. 

The Tanuki was chosen as the brand's symbol for its roots in traditional Japanese myth. The people behind Tanuki are old traditional denim makers, but like the mythical raccoon-dog changes its shape, they are transforming the image of traditional denim. Their logo 二 (Ni), the Japanese character for two, also represents this concept. The bottom line represents the past, tradition, establishment, and peace. The top line represents future, change, and strength. The red and white follow the colors of the Japanese flag, which honors their roots as Japanese denim makers.

Tanuki's greatest strength is in their experience working with Kibata. Unlike other brands that began as stores or from parent companies, Tanuki is built on the backs of denim makers. Kibata is a very difficult material to work with, and many brands will make the mistake of assuming it shrinks the same across all sizes. This results in strange fit issues like pockets that do not work, or rise that is too short, or lack of flexibility in areas where a person moves. Tanuki works with a formula developed through time to avoid the problems that other makers have, and have brought in European pattern cutters for advice on fit, resulting in the perfect denim clothes.

Our first shipment brings us Tanuki’s 15oz “Retro” and 16.5oz “Natural Indigo” selvedge denim fabrics. The Retro fabric was first created in the 70's by members of the Tanuki team when trying to develop a very dark and strong denim. When the vintage denim craze hit Japan the fabric was by far the most popular, but was discontinued in the late 90’s. The dark color is achieved through using two indigo dyes, one light, and one dark. Because of this it is a slow fading denim that creates beautiful ranges of blues.

The N fabric uses natural indigo, which usually makes fabrics four times more expensive because of the hand labor and amount of dye used. The price of this denim is possible because of Tanuki’s refined rope dying technique, which uses less dye to achieve a deep color. The fabric uses low tension weaving with slubby yarn to create a uniquely textured denim.

Both fabrics come unsanforized in true heritage fashion, and are offered in the tailored Slim and Tapered fits - a contrast that honors the fundamentals of the Tanuki brand.

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For more information on Tanuki, send us an email or tweet us your questions on Twitter.

First impressions are everything.

In just the tenth of a second, the human brain can form an opinion on someone or something that lasts for an eternity. Really, it’s no different with clothing. At first glance or touch, certain textures stand out more than others, but why? What makes a particular texture or fabric so great? What should you be looking for when it comes to certain kinds of materials? These are the questions that’ve inspired our latest issue at The Mill, and serve as the basis for our official Guide to Texture.

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CANVAS: Shoes Like Pottery

The plain weave pattern of canvas typically lends itself to a much cleaner and more uniform texture than what you’d find in a denim twill. Where vintage denim is characterized often by its loose irregular weave pattern, a duck canvas is woven extremely tight, which can allow for better durability and resistance to wear and tear. These are just a few of the reasons why canvas lends itself so well to footwear, such as the signature low top sneakers from Shoes Like Pottery. Made from a flexible and durable canvas fabric, these sneakers feature a classic design atop a kiln-fired outsole. This ancient Japanese technique is called “Ka-ryu,” and is typically reserved for ceramics and pottery, hence the Shoes Like Pottery name. The canvas fabric of the sneakers features a surprisingly high amount of texture for, and is particularly evident in white, where each shade of the natural white canvas fabric is readily apparent.

 

LOOMSTATE: Pure Blue Japan AI-003

Woven on a single shuttle loom via a painstakingly slow process, the fabric of Pure Blue Japan’s AI-003 features an extremely uneven and streaky texture reminiscent of the loom it was first woven on. The single shuttle loom allows for unmatched control of the weaving process, and the ability to alternate between slubby and smooth uniformity, until the signature vertical streaky texture the denim is known for has been achieved. This weaving process has contributed to the reputation of this denim as one of the rarest in the world, and can only ever be produced in extremely limited quantities. For more information about the natural indigo dying process of this denim, please refer to our article, A Brief History of Natural Indigo and the Pure Blue Japan AI-003.

 

LINEN: Gitman Vintage

Woven from fibers of flax plants, linen has been the fabric of choice for warm weather climates since as early as 8000BC. The fabric’s trademark cool touch and breathability is due largely to the texture of flax, which absorbs water and perspiration much better than traditional cottons. Unlike cotton however, flax is notoriously inelastic, making it a much more laborious sewing process requiring a greater level of skill. Historically, this made linen a material reserved exclusively for royalty, and thus became a favorite amongst ancient Egyptian rulers, and a symbol of purity and wealth throughout ancient history. While modern day linen is still synonymous with luxury, advancements in apparel manufacturing have drastically reduced the price of harvesting and production, making linen more widely obtainable worldwide.

 

VINTAGE: Studio D'artisan 15.5oz "WWII" Selvedge Denim

Studio D’artisan’s new “WWII” denim is rich with texture akin to vintage jeans of the 1940s. This 15.5oz selvedge denim features an extremely hairy and slubby surface texture thanks to the irregular weave style used to create the jeans. The end result is a neppy denim fabric free of treatment, washing, or sanforizing - consistent with the era of denim the jeans were inspired by. As the denim is worn, it will progressively age to the beautiful vintage blue color synonymous with antique denim of the 1940s.

 

MELANGE: BLUE BLUE by Seilin Co. Melange Sweaters

The BLUE BLUE Melange Sweaters show how the classic combination of indigo-dyes and melange yarns can yield an ample amount of texture on its own. The simple color palette of blue and white is woven in an irregular pattern, creating a textured speckled surface when combined with multiple shades of indigo yarns. As the sweater is worn, the indigo will progressively become lighter, creating a garment that will continue to take on an evolving texture for years to come.

 

SLUB YARN: Japan Blue JB0626 18oz "Godzilla" Selvedge Denim

Denim can take on a wide range of textures ranging from clean and uniform to irregular and slubby - perhaps none more so than the new 18oz Godzilla from Japan Blue. The successor to the brand’s best-selling Monster, Godzilla gets its name from the incredibly thick and irregular weave used to create the jeans. When combined with a contrasting brown weft, the texture of the denim looks almost scale-like, creating a unique pair of jeans worthy of the Japan Blue name.

We are excited to introduce our newest brand: Shoes Like Pottery. 

Since 1873, Shoes Like Pottery has been handcrafting canvas sneakers in their Kurume, Fukuoka studio. Each and every sneaker is forged using the ancient Japanese technique "Ka-ryu" - a vulcanizing process that includes firing the outsoles in a kiln, giving each pair a unique texture and finish akin to artisan ceramics. 

Each shoe is finished with the brand's signature stamp logo - a wax decal of the legendary magic hammer, "Uchide no kozuchi." Legends say that when swung, this mallet grants the wishes of its holder and everlasting luck. It is believed that this hammer was held by the Japanese deity, Daikokuten - one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese mythology. 

Footwear from Shoes Like Pottery is easily identifiable by their trademark blue under-soles, which provides a subtle splash of color to the classic canvas sneaker design. Each and every shoe is made using a durable canvas fabric that will get progressively more comfortable with wear and take on a texture of its own unique to each shoe. 

We are thrilled to feature three classic low-top sneakers for our inaugural shipment, with more styles on the way. The white, black, and indigo colors have all been curated to compliment a wide range of styles and wardrobes, and join our growing collection of footwear here at Blue Owl Workshop.

      

 

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For more information on Shoes Like Pottery, send us an email or tweet us your questions on Twitter.