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Pure Blue Japan – History, Philosophy, & Iconic Products

If you’re deep in the hole of Japanese denim, chances are you’ve heard of Pure Blue Japan, or seen their jeans grace the pages of our Fade Friday. Not to be confused with Japan Blue, or Blue Blue Japan, Pure Blue Japan (PBJ) are focused on making jeans with character.

The brand, like a lot of Japanese denim brands, are certainly influenced by American fashion of the mid-century—but they’ve taken that fashion and made something of their own, as you can see from their unique fabrics and product line.

Pure Blue Japan’s History & Philosophy

Founded in 1997 in Kurashiki-city Okayama by Ken-ichi Iwaya, PBJ are a longstanding Japanese denim manufacturer, known for the incredibly textured fabrics employed on their jeans. PBJ makes indigo and Ai (natural indigo) dyed jeans and garments, made to last, and fade over time.

Ken-ichi Iwaya started his journey in denim at a young age with his first pair of Levi’s 501, Iwaya rubbed his jeans with a pumice stone to artificially distress them. After spending time working in clothing sales in Okayama at the age of 20, Iwaya decided to make jeans of his own, and later founded Pure Blue Japan.


Ken-ichi Iwaya, Image via Japanalogue

PBJ’s affinity for indigo can be seen in the indigo leaf embroidery on the back pocket of their jeans, in lieu of pocket arcuates, as well as in the blue selvedge line on all of their jeans, as well as the massive line of indigo shaded products in their line. Pure Blue Japan’s deerskin patch on their jeans depicts a man dipping a pair of jeans into a vat of indigo, further reinforcing the brand’s love for Japanese dyeing methods, and well crafted denim.

Iwaya was propelled by the craft of making jeans that met his standards, and began his journey making ‘bad jeans’, only to hone the craft through building his brand, skills, and relationships with fabric mills. He realized the importance of stitching their jeans together in a way that would set them apart from other so called vintage-inspired jean makers, so PBJ employs longer stitches on their jeans, and importantly—with professional sewers behind the machines.

Pure Blue Japan Today


Image via Japanalogue

Today, Pure Blue Japan continues to innovate their process of stitching together interesting fabrics, offering a full line of goods including (but not limited to) many different fits of 5-pocket jeans. Pure Blue Japan’s retail store is located in Harajuku, the fashion district located in Shibuya ward of Tokyo. There you’ll find PBJ’s offering of basics, knits, and outerwear (in addition to denim), as well as a full line of women’s apparel.

The brand’s arguably most interesting proprietary fabrics are produced today, like the 18 oz. Super Rough Denim, textured from a super low-tension weave combined with a short-staple cotton. Only by working closely with their weavers, Pure Blue Japan continues to produce unique, eye-catching denim.

Iconic Pure Blue Japan Products

XX-019 Fit Jeans


Image via Pure Blue Japan

This incredibly popular straight-tapered jean, the 019, comes in a variety of fabrics—the standard being a 14 oz. denim. Plenty of room in the top of the jean, with a strong taper down to the leg opening, the 019 is a practical, modern fit. This standard 5-pocket jean comes complete with PBJ’s signature deerskin patch, low stitch-per-inch detailing, iron buttons, and rivet reinforcements.

XX-013 Fit Jeans


Image via Pure Blue Japan

Pure Blue Japan’s slim-taper, the 013, is a more form-fitting cut of denim for slimmer builds. The 013’s slim profile and lower rise makes them PBJ’s modern skinny jean, also available in a slew of fabrics, and with all the standard details you’ll find on the 019.

Yarn-Dyed Indigo T-Shirt


Image via Pure Blue Japan

The Yarn-Dyed Indigo T-Shirt is Pure Blue Japan’s basic T-Shirt, stitched together with yarns dyed with indigo, and detailed with the brand’s Indigo Leaf embroidery along the side seam. Made to fade like any of your favorite jeans, the Yarn-Dyed Indigo T-Shirt features a double-needle stitched collar, rinsed once to quell any excess crocking of dye.

Check out the selection of Pure Blue Japan offerings at retail shops Corlection and Clutch Cafe.

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