From the Land Of Rising Sun, back in the late 80s, the demand for genuine vintage Levi's jeans (pre-60s) steadily went into overdrive and by early 90s, collectors would gladly pay astronomical sums to the lucky souls who owned these stuffs, mostly from the US of A. Just like sneakers collection, when the asking price for a pair of vintage jeans eventually skyrocketed to the stratosphere, few individuals bravely came up with the idea of re-produce the jeans they so craved for but was prohibited by the costs. From design blueprint based on a pair of vintage, they would not only re-produce the cut but also religiously cover every stages of the vintage production process and method like sourcing for the actual denim use, type of indigo, buttons, rivets and so forth. The ultimate goal is to capture the spirit of the original from raw to fade. Individualism has never been this complicated (and expensive).
Hidehiko Yamane was one of such individuals. A tailor by training and a businessman by profession, he acquired a vintage shuttle looms back in the 80s and put it to use by early 90s, giving birth to argueably the most profilic Japanese jeans brand outside of the Far East, Evisu. Originally known as Evis (and before that, Labour) the original version captured all the vintage details in its glory and Yamane promptly marketed it so well that it eventually attracted the attention of Levi's, who threaten to sue.
As part of the Osaka 5 (the others being Studio D'Artisan, Warehouse, Denime, Fullcount ~ 1st gen. repro co.), it eventually grew from a niche into a large mass commercialized entity. The hip hop community had adopted it (no thanks to Jay-Z, Beyonce and that one hit wonder SoulDja Boy), wearing it oversize, "krispy" and sloppy doppy style. It does not help that, apart from the No.1 Special and No.2 line, the rest seemed nightmarish in terms of design...like someone went loco with paints and ideas.
I came to "aware" of Evisu incidently back in mid 90s when I saw a large spread of a photo in the sport section of the local newpaper showing a disgruntled EPL football fan "kung-fu" kicking a security police. He was wearing a jean with a blue painting which curiously looked like a seagull.
As a point of interest, I have to had at least a pair of No.1 Special. A No.1 Special denim is un-sanforized, shrink to fit denim using vintage shuttle loom. No great difference against No.2 except No.2 is sanforized. Also, the fabric is quite hairy as well as the infamous leg twist/skewing (to the right) which usually comes with un-sanforized denim. I got myself a pair of Lot #2000 cut, which was popularized by The Dirty Dozen + 1 Project, an Evisu and Blue In Green sponsored jean which a selected 13 participants from Supertalk Superdenim forum gets to wear it at least a month and move it on for a year, thus capturing its fade evolution. I owned 2 pairs, one in 34 inch which I am currently breaking into, and a 35 inch. The 34 inch is too tight, even though it stretches, which was why I bought a second pair from a proxy and chose a kanji and kamone (seagull) white paint combination. This was my only regret as I was too hasty in purchases. I tried to dispose off the 34 on eBay but no takers. Maybe too many ill-legit versions floating out there I suppose...
Again, I was too haste in hemming it to my desired length and the delicious chain stitch details were not replicated. Evisu's chain stitch is one of the thickest I had seen thus far.
The #2000 cut is type 66 but the waist is mid rise instead of low. Straight but slightly tapered. Weighing at 14.5oz, the jean is well made, with all four pocket bags lined with clothes for added tear proofing. I particularly like the combination of yellow and brown threads, which I think make it stands out. The selvedge colour changes according to season I supposed. Instead of their famous "tiger" selvedge ie black and yellow, the 34 is in total black whereas the 35 is silver.
Evisu may has been adopted by the hip hop community and largely denounced as a hypebeast brand by purists, but if one would strip away all its current marketing hog washed position, and stick to the basic line, the original idea is still there.