Considering many of us spend a lot of our hard-earned cash on Japanese brands, it’s surprising how little we actually know about some of the more elusive labels. One of those labels that I am personally heavily invested in without much prior knowledge is Pherrow’s. The Japanese denim and heritage menswear label has been around for over 25 years and supplies some of the most solid silhouettes in the game.
Pherrow’s hasn’t quite reached the widespread popularity that other Japanese labels have achieved in the west, but its collections grow stronger and stronger each year through a combination of time-honored American-casual silhouettes and playful, innovative details and branding. We’re taking a moment to clear some of the smoke shrouding Pherrow’s, having a look at its beginnings and its presence in the modern-day denim market.
Pherrow’s History & Philosophy
Pherrow’s was founded in 1991 by Mr. Masahiro Shimura. After being involved with the initial set up of The Real McCoy’s, Mr. Shimura separated from this project to embark on his own projects that fully aligned with his vision. Mr. Shimura immediately began seriously making selvedge denim goods, and the Pherrow’s denim line that was launched at the time was called, “STORMY BLUE”.
To curate his new project, Mr. Shimura began working with SMART Clothing store in Harajuku. SMART is directly managed by Pherrow’s but is headed by manager and buyer by Kenji Himeno, who has overseen new SMART locations in Machida, Fukuoka, and Hiroshima.
The name ‘Pherrow’s’ comes from a fictitious person/alias—Pherrow—created by Mr. Shimura. Mr. Shimura himself stepped aside in 2010 after directing Pherrow’s for over 18 years, passing the torch to Takashi Ando who remains head designer and director to this day.
Pherrow’s philosophy is one that sets it apart from other heritage-fueled Japanese brands. While other labels like Buzz Rickson’s, The Real McCoy’s, and Toy’s McCoy make meticulous reproductions of garments from yesteryear, Pherrow’s strikes a balance by taking the fundamental aspects of a heritage garment and adding their own twists to create something new and exciting.
Initially, the brand did reproduce some vintage garments like sweatshirts and nylon flight jackets—it actually became known for a repro of a Model L-2A Nylon flight jacket. But Mr. Shimura grew tired of the reproductive aspect of these styles and began experimenting with his own original designs.
In more recent years, the brand has also branched out to other aspects of heritage American casual and sportswear, using materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic to produce garments like classic outdoor fleeces and track jackets.
When it comes to denim, Pherrow’s certainly knows what it is doing as well. Using strictly Japanese selvedge denim with a yellow selvedge ID, Pherrow’s denim garments are adorned with Stormy Blue Co. branding as a nod to its denim project’s original moniker, and Buffalo Horn branding which has been used since 2009 and manifests in buffalo imagery and horn-shaped arcuates.
Today, Pherrow’s remains headquartered in Tokyo and directly manages SMART Clothing store and its four locations. Pherrow’s is sold in over 108 stockists, predominantly in Japan, but also reaching out to international stockists like Clutch Cafe and Son of a Stag in England, and Australia’s Blue Works Clothing Store. the brand continues to expand the scope of its design each year but remains centered on heritage-inspired garments and classic denim garb.
All Pherrow’s garments and accessories are made in Japan by skilled craftspeople with high-quality fabrics and hardware. Pherrow’s uses a lot of imported US cotton but is aiming to improve sustain ability by increasing the use of domestically sourced materials and recycled cotton.
Pherrow’s Iconic Products
L-2B Custom Test Sample
When Pherrow’s started back in 1991, one of the first garments they produced was a reproduction of an L-2B Nylon flight Jacket. In 2019, they paid homage to this with a special edition Aero Medical Laboratory Test Sample jacket with 326th Materiel Command patch and custom L. Pherrow nameplate. The Aero Medical Laboratory Clothing Branch was established in 1943 to test new experimental flight clothing and fabrics. The sage green L-2B came in quick succession after the Blue L-2A was seen as ineffective to camouflage downed pilots during the Korean War.
The Pherrow’s L-2b Custom Test Sample is constructed from sage nylon with wool/rayon blend linings and 1950s Conmar zippers.
Available at Clutch Cafe for $410 (on sale)
451 Jean 13.5oz. Jean
Pherrow’s 451 Jean is the brand’s take on wartime Levi’s 501s. This means they feature some of the details found during WWII, which included painted arcuates due to the rationing of thread and donut buttons due to the rationing of metal. Made in Pherrow’s 13.5 oz. yellow ID selvedge denim, these five-pocket jeans have been put through a one wash treatment to remove most of the shrinkage, before going through a starching process that makes the fabric feel and age like raw unsanforized denim.
Featuring a mid rise and a full leg, the 451 has a roomy top block and is one of the few wide jeans on the market that comes without a cinch back. Each pair is finished with overdyed green herringbone pocket bags, hidden rear pocket rivets, painted buffalo horn arcuates, and a custom Stormy Blue Co. embossed yellow rivet.
Available from Clutch Cafe for $260.
510J ‘Type 1’ Denim Jacket
Pherrow’s 510J jacket is the brand’s take on the iconic Levi’s Type I denim blouson. Just like all Pherrow’s Buffalo brand denim garments, it is made from 13.5 oz. yellow-listed Japanese selvedge denim from Okayama.
Featuring a traditional short and boxy fit, the 510J features Pherrow’s buffalo horn arcuates on the singular chest patch pocket that is secured with copper rivets. Two linear pleats run adjacent to the button placket just like the iconic Levi’s jacket, however, Pherrow’s opted to omit the cinch back adjuster in favor of a pleated back panel that increases range of movement.
Each jacket is made in Japan and comes finished with a buffalo-branded leather neck patch, and custom donut buttons.
Available for $310 from Clutch Cafe.
Pherrow’s 466SW 13.5oz Jean
Featuring the same details as the aforementioned 451 jean, the 466Sw is also made from Japanese 13.5oz. yellow-listed selvedge denim, but features a slim straight leg that is more comparable to Levi’s of the 1960s.
Available for $240 from Clutch Cafe.