Once you get into raw Japanese denim, it’s hard to miss Warehouse. Standing as one part of the esteemed Osaka 5, Warehouse & Co. is an incredibly influential denim and heritage clothing label that is still producing top-drawer vintage-inspired goods 25 years after its conception.
Warehouse & Co. is centered on American casual and vintage wear, carefully reproducing and reimagining vintage clothing with its own twists and flair. This ethos has seen Warehouse become a mainstay that is adored by denim lovers in both Japan and the Western hemisphere alike. With this in mind, we’re taking a moment to focus on the Shiotani Brothers’ brand that produces some of the best denim and vintage-inspired goods in the land.
Warehouse & Co. History & Philosophy
Warehouse & Co. was founded in 1995 by Kenichi and Koji Shiotani, making it the youngest of the Osaka 5 brands. Both Kenichi and Koji were previously involved with an incarnation of Evisu, but a difference in philosophy led them to depart and pursue their own denim dreams.
They created Warehouse with the intention of faithfully producing vintage mid-century jeans, down to the last detail. They reinforced this philosophy with their motto—“The faithful reproduction of authentic vintage garments.”
Warehouse & Co. entered the denim industry with its Lot. 1001xx model raw denim jeans, which remains the brand’s calling card to this day. With a loose-straight fit that mirrors Levi’s 501XX jeans from the 1950s in terms of fabric and construction, the Lot. 1001 encapsulates the Shiotani brother’s passion for vintage denim through period-correct details like iron buttons, copper rivets, a red rayon pocket tab, and curved rear pocket arcuates.
“Once people wear an authentic pair of jeans, they may realize or rediscover the true charm of the garment. I think more and more people will love to wear jeans through the experience, just like us who have been steeped in it since the first time we wore vintage jeans.” – Koji Shiotani speaking to Beams Plus
It’s well known that Japanese denim honchos are nuts about vintage clothing, but the Shiotani brothers live and breathe vintage. In recent years, the Shiotani brothers have even pulled apart Levi’s denim banners from the 1930s to examine the yarns, weave, and dye to allow them to replicate original American denim to the highest standard. Clutch Magazine attests this in its Japan Denim Book:
“Shiotani’s stance towards vintage clothing is very similar to that of an archaeologist. The way he works is like a scene out of a movie, where dinosaurs are brought back to life in modern times. When they see a vintage fabric that they feel could never be created in modern times, they research it extensively and move forward with the strong feeling of wanting to bring it back to life.
“So, they don’t create anything new without gathering the actual vintage fabrics and they never add any new designs. In order to reproduce every last detail faithfully, they write down each of the details on an instruction list and ask experienced craftsmen to manufacture them for them. What makes them so successful in recreating authentic vintage items is their organization and dedication.”
Though the Warehouse & Co. philosophy will always be centered on vintage garments and historic workwear, the Shiotani brothers decided to branch out from just directly reproducing vintage jeans. To grow the brand, they chose to apply the production methods and fabrics of times-past to original garments. This is evident in the brand’s current schedule of sub-brands and specific design lines like Dubbleworks, Brown Duck & Digger, and collaborations with brands like Rocky Mountain Featherbed and Beams Plus.
Warehouse & Co. is headquartered in Osaka, Japan, and managed by the Shiotani brothers. By and large a denim brand, Warehouse also has a comprehensive clothing roster that includes heavyweight flannel shirts, loopwheeled sportswear, and even vulcanized sneakers.
When it comes to denim, Warehouse uses the famous Toyoda G3 shuttle loom to weave a carefully selected blend of cotton yarns from Memphis, Arizona, and Tennessee. The old G3 requires constant overwatch to keep it from stalling and breaking down, but it is the only machine that can achieve the grainy, uneven texture of original early to mid-twentieth century denim.
Warehouse weaves many different varieties of denim, but a fan favorite is its ‘Banner Denim’, a 13.5 oz. selvedge denim based on that of a 1930s Levi’s denim banner that the Shiotani brothers pulled apart to examine.
“All the cotton fabrics we use are made of American cotton. From details such as buttons, zippers and rivets to finishing to washing, we have our own specific regulations in every aspect of jeans making. That is the answer we got after 25 years of pursuit for the original form of jeans. “– Koji Shiotani speaking to Beams Plus
Loopwheeled and cut & sew goods make up a large part of Warehouse & Co.’s output. The brand uses hanging circular knitting machines in a Wakayama factory to create fabrics that resemble original athletic wear from mid-century America. Warehouse & Co. then uses time-honored construction techniques like 4-needle flat-lock seams, lock stitch reinforcement at the neckline, and freedom sleeves.
Warehouse & Co. has had a wealth of sub-brands over the years, some of which are currently defunct, i.e. Heller’s Cafe, Copper King, and Brown Duck & Digger—the last of which seems to have been refined into the Duck Digger Series which sits under the standard Warehouse label.
Currently, Warehouse & Co. releases products through its standard Warehouse label and a sub-brand Dubbleworks, which is predominantly a cut & sew brand that blends modern flair with vintage craftsmanship. It uses Marudo knitting machines—little changed since their introduction in the early 1920s—famed for knitting tubular fleece with a lack of side seams.
Lot. 1001 Jean
The 1001 is the jean that kickstarted Warehouse & Co.’s denim story and remains a pillar of the brand today. It’s an archetypal straight leg fit with the perfect balance of Japanese denim-refinement and flair, with of the no-nonsense charm of five-pocket jeans. Based on Levi’s 501xx of the 40s and 50s, the 1001 has a mid-to-high rise is made from Warehouse’s aforementioned ‘Banner Denim’. Each pair is finished with a red pocket tab, mustard selvedge ID, leather waist patch, and custom copper rivets stamped with K.K. in reference to the Sionatani twins—Kenichi and Koji.
Available at Lost & Found for $274.
As we mentioned earlier on, circular-knitted sweatshirts form a large part of Warehouse & Co.s yearly collections. While the brand does a lot of printed sweats with all sorts of Americana and collegiate-style motifs, it’s plain sweatshirts like those pictured above that really let the aforementioned construction techniques stand out in all their glory.
Warehouse & Co. Lot 474 Crew Neck Sweat Faded Navy available at Clutch Cafe for $245 (left)
Warehouse & Co. Lot. 475 Hooded Sweatshirt Black available at Clutch Cafe for $305 (right)
Type 1 Denim Jacket
When talking about denim brands, it can sometimes be easy to forget their denim jackets. Maybe that’s because the denim blouson arguably isn’t quite as archetypal as the five-pocket jean, but it’s no excuse! Especially when they can be as nice as this Type 1 by Warehouse. Made with the same attention to vintage-detail and construction as their jeans, Warehouse & Co. smashes it with their denim jackets and this 13.5 oz. raw selvedge denim Type 1 with T-back panel construction and a cinch fastening is a perfect example.
Available for $510 from Clutch Cafe.