2020 was a trying time but we are more than ready to move on. We consider this year as the start of the Roaring Twenties and through a beamingly positive lens, we have the desire to go beyond and achieve what we wanted to achieve last year and then some more. There’s a lot that one can do in a year, and even more so in a decade, and documenting the journey is part and parcel these days. A diary is one great way of doing so, however, we have another way: with your denim.
Now, embarking on a denim journey might sound contrived, but no natural fabric on this earth is its own biographer. It lives and breathes with you, will show off the scars, whether triumphant or not. “I don’t know of any other fabric that gets more and more character as you wash and wear it,” says co-founder Adam, the resident bona fide denim head and collector.
Adam’s love-affair with denim started in 1997. “The first pair of jeans that really kicked this all off for me in a big way was a pair of Evisu I bought from Urban Outfitters. It was during the first wave of Japanese denim mania in the UK,” he explains. “I made some critical mistakes with them, like hemming them too short as they shrunk, but I still have these jeans and they are a lovely soft faded old memory of that time. They’re my oldest pair of jeans at 24 years old and I will frame them one day!”
One of the reasons why Adam’s jeans have lasted so long is that they were made from raw denim. This means “that the jean has not been washed at all and no water has come into contact with that product since the cloth was originally woven,” co-founder Charlotte explains. It’s untouched and pure. “When we came to launch TWC denim, we launched one fit ‘001’ in three washes; raw, rinse and a vintage wash which was based on a pair of Adam’s jeans that he had worn from ‘raw’ for around four years,” Charlotte adds.
Still to this day, Adam and Charlotte use a 13oz denim, which is the optimum weight as you can wear it year-round. Through wear, it shape-shifts and evolves in a truly unique way that’s personal to you. Wear it for long enough, and raw denim will start to look like the rinse and eventually vintage wash versions. But, in order to achieve that look, you need patience and a willingness to go on the journey towards it.
From the outset, TWC has only worked with the best makers for whatever product they’re trying to create, and when it comes to denim that means one place, Japan. “Both of us have always been obsessed with all things Japanese probably dating back to when we were at college – Japanese design just always stands out as being unique,” says Charlotte. There are many great things about Japan, but its quality of artisanal denim is certainly one of them, and it’s established itself as the world-defining benchmark producer of it.
“Japan became the mecca for truly authentically produced denim products towards the late 1970s and early 1980s,” informs Adam. This is because industry leaders in the field had lost interest in the original approach to weaving and sewing denim, whereas in Japan it’s all they cared for. It’s a natural characteristic of the Japanese to think this way, as they’ve always had an innate appreciation for doing things right. “If you want a jean that’s produced in the authentic way jeans were produced pre 1980, then you invariably need to go to a Japanese denim brand. Or, The Workers Club!” states Adam.
The entire production takes place in Okayama and is overseen by one man by the name of Hiro, who Adam describes as being “an enigma.” Quite a title, Hiro is effectively a master of all things indigo; he develops all of the washes and ranges for the world’s leading denim brands and he understands the nuances in the traditional techniques that Japan is known for. He then goes one step further with more modern influences that meet the tastes of the Western world and, most importantly, The Workers Club community.
Through Hiro’s guidance, TWC jeans are produced to an incredibly high standard that ensures that they’ll stand the test of time. It starts with weaving the denim, which is produced by the Kuroki Mill on traditional narrow-width looms. This means many things, but one telling point is that every pair is made with a selvedge that’s a mark of quality through micro-production. After all, there’s little to no romance in large-scale manufacturing.
They’re then cut by hand and sewn utilising chain stitching, which is another denim term that you may or may not have heard of before. “If you strive for the perfect look faded jeans – see any Steve McQueen image of him wearing his 501’s astride his favourite Triumph motorbike – then to achieve this you need to use a chain stitch. It’s needed so that the jeans shrink on the hem and you end up with a nice ‘roping’ effect,” Adam explains. It’s a small detail, but it’s these sorts of details that matter the most when it comes to well-made clothing.
From the quality of the denim to the consistent and reliable finesse of the construction, we believe that our raw jeans are second to none. Entirely Made in Japan, they have all the ingredients for a lifetime of wear, which is exactly what we want them to be viewed as being capable of.
Slowly but surely from the absolute get-go, they’ll develop markings, scars, lines, quirks and fades that are totally unique to you. In Adam’s case, it’s “a little lucky charm that I have on my left belt loop that a dear friend got me from Hong Kong. It always leaves a little circular ‘scar’ on my left hip!” In your case, it could be the imprint of your anniversary wallet on your back pocket or the fades on your inside leg from rubbing against the seat of your motorbike.
Raw denim jeans are in many ways a wearable blank, indigo canvas. Forever a work in progress, they require patience in order to achieve the pleasing state of evolving perfection. If you’re going to commit to the journey, which we couldn’t recommend more, you need to “make sure the jeans fit you comfortably and you can put up with the level of comfort they offer while raw,” is Adam’s advice.
“If you wear them three to four times a week, within a month you will see a bit of a break-in. Give it three to four months and they will feel really comfortable. My optimal time for breaking in properly and before I can even think about washing is about 2 years,” Adam adds. For washing, look to our denim wash, but if they get a bit smelly, air them out which works a treat.
Good luck on your journey and stay tuned for our follow up piece, whereby we speak to a few friends who’ve broken in their raw jeans and they now resemble something entirely different!