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Koromo on Making Denim the Old-Fashioned Way

What’s new in denim for 2016? Liberty Fairs recently took over Pier 94, its new location on the Hudson river in Manhattan, for its annual menswear shows. Rivet was in the house checking out the denim on display; a mix of the familiar and the new that made for an exciting peek at what’s to come in the year ahead.

Out of the dozens of brands in attendance, we’ve picked out the ones we felt were doing something new, had a unique point of view, or just had some really nice looking jeans on display. In the first part of our series covering denim’s class of 2016, we chat with Koromo, who caught our eye with their beautiful dyed jackets.

Founded in 1998 in Kyoto, the Koromo brand is owned by Kodaishin Co., and was one of several Japanese brands making waves at Liberty, indicative of the country’s strong hold on the minds of denim-lovers and its increasing profile around the world. With Koromo’s threads finally making their way out of Japan and into stores across the country (including California, Texas, and New York City), we chatted with company president and director Masatoshi Kondo about Japanese craftsmanship, and what customers should look forward to from Kondo next.

RIVET: Tell us a little bit about Koromo. What’s it all about?
Kondo: The founder of Koromo had been running a shop in Kyoto since 1988, but she got tired of the speed at which fashion was always changing. She thought of wanting to make universal items not affected by trends, and so the brand was born 1998.

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RIVET: What is the inspiration behind your clothing? How does Kyoto play a part in your designs?
Kondo: We’re inspired by the culture of Japanese vintage clothing. Kyoto is the land of original Japanese clothing, so we are very lucky to be able to make things in the traditional way, rooted in the culture of the town. Kyoto is a place where cloth-making enters the field of fine arts, not just home economics. In this land of many temples, the teachings of Zen Buddhism also infuse lessons into people’s daily lives.

RIVET: How are the jeans are made? What makes them unique?
Kondo: When we make the denim the old-fashioned way, we do not use the latest machinery, we use the shuttle loom. It takes three times longer than the latest machinery, but the finished denim comes out swell and has a great, unique finish. When we design, we are conscious of wabi and sabi. Wabi-sabi is a sense of beauty in Japan. Apple’s Steve Jobs also learned of this feeling while in Japan. This feeling can not be expressed in words but is utilized in the design.

RIVET: What’s new for Koromo in 2016?
Kondo: For the 2016 season we’re making many products that utilize sashiko, which is also used in Japanese Kendo and Judo clothing.