Editors Note: Following up on our February announcement – “Just Released – Tenue de Nîmes x BIG JOHN Natural Blue Raw Denim“, our writer Connor was able to snatch up one of the 24 pairs released and have a quick update and review from the first seven or so months of wear.
I was really excited to get my hands on a pair of the Tenue de Nimes X BIG JOHN collaborative jeans in the natural blue raw denim when they first released. I jumped on them as fast as possible and have been in love with the jeans since.
- Name: Tenue de Nîmes X BIG JOHN Natural Blue Raw Denim
- Weight: 14.5 Oz.
- Fit: Slim-Tapered
- Denim: 100% Cotton Japanese Selvedge Denim
- Length of Wear: 9 Months
- Number of washes: None
- Other Details:
- Heavy navy blue leather back patch
- Pockets lined with original, blue and white Dutch farmer’s cloth referring to the classic ‘Delft Blauw’
- 1st century BC Roman Empire Nîmes top-button
As an overview, they strike you as unique at first, as the denim is an unusual color. It’s a lighter, traditional bright blue color that is referred to in Japanese as ‘Ruri’, achieved by reducing the dyeing of the Kaihara fabric by 25%.
This particular ‘Ruri’ color (AKA Lapis lazuli, after the gemstone of intense blue color) is considered one of the seven treasures of Buddhism. It’s a midweight denim at 14.5 oz, but interestingly was one of the easiest denims to break in I’ve ever had.
A little back story: BIG JOHN was one of the first companies to bring American influence to the Japanese market in terms of utilizing the Japanese cotton industry to produce workwear textiles.
Since then, BIG JOHN has developed itself with the aim of becoming a Japanese equivalent to Levi’s – an ambitious goal that one would have to say they’re doing a decent job of working towards.
Tenue de Nimes is one of the world’s premier denim retailers, consistently pushing the market forward with their collaborations and supplying the world with an exceptionally curated selection of denims. We had a chance to sit down and chat a bit with them last year, a conversation available to read here and here.
The pocket bags are a standout attractive detail in the jean, as Tenue de Nimes draws off their Dutch heritage to put in ‘Delft Blauw’ blue and white farmer’s cloth in the pocket bags. It looks really great with the unique denim, though sadly obviously they don’t see the light of day too often.
You almost want to walk around sometimes with your pocket bags out to show them off, despite it being more than a little ridiculous…
The selvage ID of the denim is another unique characteristic of this jean – the yellow selvage is a tribute to the traditional 1960’s fabric made by Cone Mills, a tribute appropriate from both brands. It’s a nice touch, and a unique look for today that references a great fabric.
The denim itself is, as you’d expect, 100% cotton and made in the Kaihara Mills in Japan. A 14.5 oz. per square yard, it’s a great mid-weight jean; not too heavy and not too light. It wears as well in winter as it will on a summer evening.
Another nice touch to the jeans is the lack of rivets throughout, which keeps you more comfortable (no hard metal bits to sit on), protects your furniture (no rivet scars) and, thanks to some excellent sewing and design you lose nothing in terms of the strength of the jean.
It makes for a very clean aesthetic as well, and due to the total lack of rivets the only piece of real hardware is the COL-NEM 1st century BC Roman Empire top-button. This button is an homage of a typical coin from the French city of Nîmes.
The fly is zippered, the brands agreeing to use the BIG JOHN house-made zipper hardware. It may be a small detail, but sometimes it’s a refreshing change to look at a zipper and not see YKK on everything.
The back patch is a heavy navy blue leather, stamped with the collaborative branding, referencing Amsterdam with the xxx in the top right corner and Japan with the large sun in the top left corner. Again, a small detail but a really nice and thoughtful piece of design.
I have to say, having been in these jeans for around 9 months now, they’re one of my favorite pairs I’ve had the privilegie of owning. The fades are just starting to come in now and they’re starting to look good. I’ve had to put them through one crotch blowout repair which is to be expected due to the amount of cycling I do, but they’re yet to go through the wash.
All told, they feel great. The jeans are very comfortable, with a great fit, and support two brands I’d be more than happy to support. If you somehow get the chance to pick up a pair, I’d recommend doing it in a heartbeat. Keep an eye out for future Tenue de Nimes x BIG JOHN collaborations as they tend to do some great work together.