Fundamental Agreement Luxury (FDMTL) has been quietly producing raw denim jeans in Tokyo since 2005. They’ve always been exclusive to the Japanese market, but this fall season designer and founder Gaku Tsuyoshi is making his move into Europe and North America.
Before the jeans hit the rest of the world next season, they sent us review pair of their Regular Straight jeans to evaluate what’s been hiding in Japan for all these years. After a month of wear, we’ve concluded that FDMTL produces a well-constructed and intelligently designed jean with many details not currently found at the mid-tier price point.
- Name: FDMTL Regular Straight
- Weight: 14oz.
- Fabric: 100% cotton sanforized Japanese selvedge denim
- Fit: Straight
- Unique Features:
- Herringbone half-lined back pockets
- Keychain belt loops on front left pocket
- Branded Shinto charm bell
- Zip fly
- MSRP: ¥17,280 ($170) at FDMTL
This pair is labeled as Regular Straight and they deliver as advertised. The heritage-y fit recalls 1940s era 501s–roomy 12.25 inch thighs taper slightly down to an 8.5 inch leg opening and there’s even a spade shaped coin pocket. The front rise of measures in at a mid-level 10.75 inches but a high back rise of nearly 16, which leaves a good bit of room in the seat. The waist was also vanity sized with a true waist of 35 so take that into account if you attempt to find your own fit.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call these anti-fit, but they’re certainly relaxed and would serve as a good option for those with bigger thighs or looking for a more conservative cut. There’s plenty of room all around but I never felt like I was swimming in them nor did I experience any restriction of movement, which made for a relatively easy break in process. Sure, the fades won’t be as pronounced, but wearing these was honestly refreshing after putting in several years in relatively unforgiving slim tapered cuts.
FDMTL sources their denim from an unspecified mill in Okayama, but we do know it’s 14oz. it’s sanforized, and comes with a red and a blue selvedge ID. There’s nothing else incredibly exceptional about the fabric: it has few irregularities, it has an even hand, it feels crispy and sturdy enough, and it has a little bit of fuzz on it’s surface suggesting it was singed but not calendered.
Stretch was minimal with only about a half inch in the waist and even less everywhere else, although that could be more a consequence of the looser fit than the denim itself. Creases set easily on the whiskers but took a bit longer on the back honeycombs. I’m seeing some electric blue fades shine through around the bottom crotch seam, but these otherwise seem like fairly slow faders.
Where this pair really shines is in the details, they’ve taken care to produce a jean with a few extra utilitarian features while maintaining a minimalistic profile. The most noticeable addition is the small charm bell that comes standard on all FDMTL jeans, which hangs from small eyelet below the right front belt loop. It gives the jeans a good bit of immediate identity, but if you’d rather not sound like a lost cat, the bell is easily removable.
Next up are these extra belt loops stitched into the left pocket to hang your keys from. I never used them but they never got in my way either, so I’d call it a net benefit.
They also only come with a zipper fly–a rarity in the raw denim world–from Universal, the original parent company of Talon Zipper. But unlike Talons, which can be historically accurate to a fault (they break just like they used to!), this zipper is nice and beefy with large teeth that feel like they can rip through anything (on second thought, maybe that’s not such a good thing for a fly).
Other details include a branded nickel donut button, unpunched nickel rivets, contrast gold and yellow stitching, and chainstiched hems and waistband.
The jeans are put together with the level of quality you’d expect from a Made in Japan label. The felled inseams are done with one tonal and one contrast stitch, the back pockets are attached with hidden bar tacks instead of rivets, and the fly is held in place with a single central bar tack 501 style.
I particularly appreciated the thick herringbone pocket bags, as those are normally the first things to go on most of my jeans. The back pockets are also half lined with the same fabric. These jeans aren’t put together with the same crazy engineering as something like Iron Heart, but they aren’t going to fall apart anytime soon either.
When you add all these components up, you’d expect a jean in the $200-$250 range. Their list price in Yen pegs them at about $170 US, which will probably rise with import duties and shipping when they do launch in the US, but I still think they’d be worthwhile around $200. There aren’t a whole lot of other jeans out there with a vintage straight fit and this level of construction at a mid-level price. The only one I can come up with would be the Lot. 955 from Burgus Plus.
They’re certainly well made and conceived but they don’t have a huge amount of personality, like something you’d expect from Beams Plus or another Japanese department store brand. It seems as though they’re caught between vintage and modern but still do a commendable job at both. These aren’t the next Samurai or Flat Head, but at this price point they’re not trying to be either. FDMTL certainly knows how to make jeans, so in the future I’d be interested in seeing them try some more interesting fabrics or to delve deeper into the historical details they seem to be skimming at the moment.
At the end of the day, however, these are well-made jeans that fill the hole of an underrepresented style at an underrepresented price point. Worth a buy if that’s what you’re into.