It’s that time of year again: all of our favorite brands have finished tinkering away on their lines, the samples are set, and now it’s time to sell sell sell like their lives depend on it. That’s right, MARKET WEEK! Thousands of brand reps, buyers, and merchants flocked to New York City last week to show, preview, and buy their Autumn/Winter 2014 collections.
Market Week, however, is a bit of misnomer; all of the major men’s trade shows for New York City happened from January 21-23 but NYC is just a pit stop on the six-week globetrotting circuit many brands use to present their new lines. Many brands came from Berlin via Paris and many more will be in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Las Vegas, and Tokyo before their tour is through.
This stop wasn’t an easy one. New York saw over a foot of snow and subzero wind chills on the first day of the shows, which grounded many flights, brought public transportation to a crawl, and put more than one Geobasket-ed goth ninja ass-down on the pavement. But enough inside baseball, let’s get to the clothes.
You may remember from my Spring/Summer ’14 recap more washes and non-raw offerings looming on the horizon. They’re still there, but it seems to be toned back a bit as the colder seasons are generally more raw friendly.
The main trend I noticed is that everyone is striving to produce or create their own proprietary fabric. As many of our best known brands enter their tenth-plus season making raw denim jeans, they’ve grown bored or frustrated with the standard offerings from Japanese and American mills.
It used to be just 3sixteen with the claim to exclusive denim as a tiny company, but come this fall Left Field NYC, Tellason, and Baldwin will join their ranks with their own proprietary fabric. It looks to be the next step for brands to distinguish themselves in an increasingly crowded market where everyone is using roughly the same materials. We look forward to seeing who comes up with what proprietary blends next.
Brandon Svarc and Bahzad Trinos always have a bevy of tricks ready with every new season. They’ve done scratch and sniff denim, glow in the dark denim (for kids too), and even heat-activated color-changing jeans. This season is no different, but their first offering is nothing to joke about–the infamous and hotly anticipated Elephant 4.
Naked & Famous‘ Elephant series is known for being super dark and super heavy–reminiscent of elephant skin–and this iteration more than lives up to the name. The E4 features 22 Oz. indigo warp over black weft sanforized Japanese selvedge denim, bright contrast yellow stitching, and a 10 Oz. buffalo leather patch. It will be offered in their Weird Guy tapered and Skinny Guy slim tapered fits.
On the wackier side of things, they’re issuing a spiritual successor of sorts to their Rainbow Core denim with a multicolored weft twill. Although the candy insides won’t fade in, little tufts of colored nep pop through the indigo face of the jean.
The novelty show-stopper of this collection though was the reflective denim. You know that shiny material on construction vests or bike clothing? Well Brandon and Bahzad made denim yarns out of it. See Brandon’s “magic trick” below: take a photo of the reflective pair with a flash and all of the other jeans will disappear!
New things are also brewing on the pair’s entry level label, Unbranded. They’re releasing a new fabric, a 1% spandex 11oz stretch selvedge, and a new fit, the Tight based on the Super Skinny Guy fit. Both are expected this April. They’ve also really upped their game on leather patches.
Japan Blue and Momotaro
Straight out of Rampuya, Collect Mills and Japan Blue Group denim brands Japan Blue and Momotaro showed up with a variety of new fabrics from their Japanese labs.
The most interesting we saw is a “knit denim” that forgoes the typical weaving done on a loom. There’s no selvedge ID on these guys, but they fade and look just like traditional denim plus their interior feels like French terry cloth. Sweat denim, indeed.
They’re innovating on the Momotaro side of things as well.
In a similar vein to their Deep Indigo and Grand Indigo denims, they’re releasing a dark natural dyed indigo with a greycaste weft yarn. See the results of Tatushi’s fade below.
And going one step further from traditional dye types like kakishibu (i.e. persimmon – see Samurai Jeans‘ Kakishibu-Dyed 24 Oz. S5000KA as an example), they have a work shirt dyed in indigo and green tea.
3sixteen is also going lighter next season with an 11 Oz. denim, another exclusive from Kuroki Mills. In a more Japanese fashion, they’re offering these jeans once-washed–see the milky indigo runoff on the leather patch above. Andrew says the patches will be added after the wash to avoid that kind of indigo transfer, but I happen to think it looks pretty cool.
The team also updated all of their hardware, opting for vintage donut buttons and unpunched rivets (note the tufty fuzz) this time around.
On the non-denim side of the brand, Andrew and Johan are bringing out 3/4 sleeve leisure shirts with coconut buttons. A first for something made this side of the Pacific.
As much as a season for new things, it’s a resurrection of the old as well. 3sixteen‘s welcoming back flannels and waxed cotton bombers that haven’t been seen in years. These flannels ain’t your typical LL Bean button downs, though, they’re more the Japanese repro style you’d expect from The Flat Head or Iron Heart with thick yarns and huge checks to match.
And we couldn’t not show this pair of lovingly abused ST-100x‘s Andrew had on hand. The darning work on these must’ve taken ages.
The boys from Queens were out in force as Left Field NYC has clarified its vision over the past few seasons into a line of solidly constructed American workwear. This year is no different. Christian McCann and his team continue to discover new and interesting fabrics for their two jean fits.
Now intimately familiar with American and Japanese mills, the team sourced this super neppy green ID denim from the Candiani Mill in Italy.
Wanting to branch into their own fabric, Left Field is doing their own dyeing on Cone Mills natural selvedge denim to create their own colors.
And in their knit division, they’ve created a pair of sweatpants out of the same 18 Oz. indigo terry used in their iconic sweatshirt. They’re all ready to go for a SuFu competition so the fades on these are going to be stretched to the limit.
In sweatshirts, they’ve got a new hoodie with an old twist. Like old Champion sweats, they stitched the hood on top of an already finished crew neck–that’s versatility in manufacturing, right there.
Japan’s first denim brand arrived with largely their same strong collection.
In jackets, however, they’ve adapted the unsanforized shrink to fit denim from their flagship Rare jeans into a shrink-to-fit trucker jacket.
And the ongoing collaboration between Big John and artist Rockin’ Jelly Bean has entered its third and final iteration. Where the last collab focused on the denim of the Beach Boys in the early 60s, this pair aims to emulate the jeans of the 60s and early 70s Woodstock era rock and roll. They come raw as well as in a super washed out vintage cast.
Another standout was this MA-1 jacket with nylon sleeves and a black denim body. Not sure how/if it will fade, but the details and the feel were spot on.
Ardent readers will recognize these jeans from our fade friday last july. Well they belong to Big John designer Ryuchi Adachi, and he’s put in a good bit more wear on them.
You probably know the 12oz Cone Mills indigo duck canvas on the jeans in the photo below, but what you probably don’t know is that Cone Mills has discontinued the fabric and Tellason has developed an exclusive run. As such, they’re using a lot of it!
Their chore coat has it,
and their trucker has it too.
They’ve also produced this collaboration vest with raincoat maker Freeman Seattle. Although one may question the rain stopping power of a semi-waterproof vest, it looks pretty neat.
Our old friends Keith and Rob of Eat Dust are still raising hell and making jeans in Copenhagen. This season they’re moving into footwear as well as women’s denim.
But they aren’t making any compromises for the ladies; Keith and Rob are using the same 14oz 100% cotton denim they use on their men’s jeans. That’s right, no stretch!
Their infamous “dirty dozen” camo is also back this season on bags, jackets, vests, and this amazing poncho, which when combined with three other ponchos can create a small tent!
Matt Baldwin and his Kansas City crew have been racking up acclaim from the likes of GQ, Esquire, and Vogue. Despite the mainstream acceptance, they still put out jeans that will satisfy any denim nerd. After four years of testing out pretty much every mill and denim out there, Baldwin has created their own exclusive denim with the collaboration of Kuroki Mills. It’s a 14 Oz. sanforized black line selvedge that they’re using throughout their line see below:
They’re also doubling down on washes, introducing a new black resin wash.
Dickies 1922 returned with largely the same collection but with one new standout–this apron, cut across the full width of a selvedge 2×1 denim bolt.
Lee‘s heritage collection, 101, is also sticking with their washes. They’ve developed a new technique however, that minimizes the amount of water used in distressing their jeans to one liter or less.
But don’t worry, you can still get ’em raw. They’ve also gone back to producing their denim with their original gold-line selvedge ID.
UK based brand, Natural Selection, brought their “Darwinism of denim” collection to New York. Their philosophy is that only the denim you choose to wear will achieve the wear needed to evolve so their environmental bent is only appropriate. They use organic and natural materials wherever possible including potato starch to set the rigidity of their jeans.
Below is a jacket from their “No Evil/Live On” collection, a select run of discontinued Cone Mills denim they’ve sat on for years, and their designer John Park in a brand new pair of their tapered fit.
The indigo obsessed Apolis‘ chosen material for next winter is appropriately wool. They’ve taken the success they’ve had with their indigo wool chore coat and created a shirt jacket and dress pants to match.
Fundamental Agreement Luxury
Fundamental Agreement Luxury may sound like a philosophical day spa, but it’s actually the name of a heritage Japanese denim company that has been making jeans in Tokyo for the past eight years. Only this season have they made their move to conquer the rest of the world.
They offer a variety of fits from skinny to heritage straight but all bear their trademark Shinto bell next to the left pocket. Don’t worry about sounding like a lost cat, though, it’s easily removable.
The price point is dead on. The jeans milled and produced entirely in Japan will retail for under $200.00.
The denim felt crisp and evolves beautifully, as Gaku’s fades below demonstrate. And after operating in Japan for nearly a decade, they will have worked out all the kinks that come with designing and manufacturing jeans. Add to that the mid-tier price and I’m very interested to see Fundamental make the transition stateside.
On the domestic front is Shockoe Denim. Operating out of Richmond, Virginia for just over a year now, Shockoe sources their denim from Cone Mills and Japan’s Collect Mills while manufacturing everything out of their Richmond showroom.
The jeans show many vintage details like single-needle stitching and double-clasp rivets exposed on the back pockets.
But just because they’re going vintage in construction doesn’t mean they’re slaves to old fabrics. See below two of their picks from Collect; a neppy blanket denim and an incredibly slubby 18oz-er (read up on our previous article outlining the difference between nep and slub).
Here’s another shot of the amazing irregularity you get with heavy weight denim at low tension.
That about wraps it up. What do you think about what’s on offer for denim in AW14? Sound off in the comments below and be sure to check back in for our continuing coverage on the leather goods at the show!