Located in the western prefecture of Okayama, Kojima is the birthplace of Japanese denim, and the four-and-a-half-hour pilgrimage from Tokyo is worth it for any denim devotee. One of the first names to emerge was Momotaro Jeans, in 2006, which has come to define what we now think of as premium denim. From the copper rivets embossed with the Momotaro seal to the heavy-weight pocket liners, and the peach stitching on the inseam, every detail is connected to the mythology of the region and the legend of Momotaro, which means “peach boy” in Japanese, and comes from a folk story about health, vitality and rejuvenation.
Inside of their workshop, Master Weaver Shigeru Uchida keeps a watchful eye over the shuttle looms that turn out some of the finest selvedge denim anywhere in the world. Each machine is tuned daily. There are no manuals or instructions, only years of experience — and, as Uchida explained, an “ear for the looms” that guide his hands. When he was an apprentice, he was only allowed to watch his master work; no questions allowed. This rigorous training gave him the ability to sense how and when to make adjustments. The results have completely transformed what we think of denim today.