Prior to the explosion in reproduction Japanese denim, Evisu was arguably one of the most denim brands. Hoping to recapture a growing segment of die-hard denim fiends, the brand has mounted a large campaign for their 2009 spring Heritage collection. While a full break-down of what’s in store can be seen over at their blog, here’s a quick summary. the No1Special (unsanforized) and No2 (sanforized) models have been re-released. Softer left-hand twill versions can be seen via the No13Left model. Other models include the No3 D85 “Rising Sun” Selvedge and the No4 open-yarn woven jean which unlike traditional ringspun has different wearing properties. Looking forward to the fall, Evisu will release an exotic sulphur rope-dyed ringspun black selvedge piece as well. Based on the following offerings, Evisu could gain some old fans in the upcoming seasons.
No1Special is unsanforized japanese selvage denim woven in Osaka by Kaihara Corps Ltd. Unsanforized denim is the most authentic cloth, as used on the very earliest jeans. It has a slightly hairy surface and the warp and weft yarns are quite loose. When it is first washed, the yarn fibers will contract, making the denim much tighter, and causing the garment to shrink. Another effect will be leg twist or skewing. Skewed legs are a sure sign of true vintage jeans. No1Special is cut in shrink-to-fit blocks (e.g. 0001stf), so you should buy your normal size for preshrunk jeans and hot soak them before wearing. We recommend soaking them at one of the many hot springs about 100 km south of Osaka, but if that’s not possible a warm bathtub and a cup of sake will suffice.
No2 denim is identical to No1Special, but sanforized. woven in Osaka Japan on half-width shuttle looms with signature pink selvage. No2 is a mid-to heavy-weight 13.7 oz denim and has a deep blue tone with a very slight red caste. The sanforization process was invented by Sanford Cluett in 1933 and involves passing the unfinished cloth through heated rubber rollers, causing the fibers to shrink and stretching the fabric into a stable state, which will not alter with washing. Sanforizing also prevents the jeans from skewing (twisting). Lastly, the singeing process takes off the hairy surface: before 1933, all denim was unsanforized (like our No1Special).
No3 is the original famous Evisu Heritage selvage denim, previously known as D85. No3 denim is woven from unbleached ‘mother cotton’, and the warp is rope dyed with indigo to an extremely deep blue, almost black tone. Rope dyeing is so-called because the cotton yarn is twisted into a ‘rope’ which is dipped into a vat of indigo before being brought up high to the roof of a dye-house, allowing the unstable indigo compounds to oxidise on the cotton, turning it from a murky brown-green color to the deep intense blue of fine selvage denim. No3 can be recognized by the unusual ‘rising’ sun red and white selvage.
No4 is another brand-new denim specially developed for the Evisu Heritage Spring 2009 collection. The denim is woven from open-end yarn, with no slubs where the yarns are knotted together during weaving. Open-end yarn denim has a smoother, flatter surface than ring-spun denim. Like all Evisu Heritage denim, No4 is woven on half-width shuttle looms. Shuttle looms use a singe continuous weft yarn which passes backwards and forwards across the warp threads, making a clean woven selvage, unlike modern projectile looms, which shoot the weft yarns across the warp one by one. No4 denim is woven with a classic redline selvage.
No13Left is a close reproduction of the early denim used by Lee from the 1910s onwards. It is a left hand twill cloth, which is identifiable by the diagonal twill lines, which run from top-left to bottom-right. Unlike normal right hand twill denim, which is the opposite, left hand twill denim wears down even softer than its’ right hand equivalent. No13Left is green caste indigo, and has mismatched selvage: one side is plain white, and the other side has a single warp thread of indigo woven into it, staying true to the specifications of the original Lee version. Lastly, jeans cut from No13Left denim have the leather patch sewn on the left side of the waistband.