Interview – Keita & Tatsushi, Momotaro Jeans – Part 2
We had the chance to chat with Keita & Tatsushi from Momotaro Jeans, one of the most popular denim brands in the world. Momotaro Jeans was founded at Kojima, Okayama by the Japan Blue Company in 2006. The Japan Blue Company is also the founder of Japan Blue Jeans and Collect, One of the major Denim Mills in Japan.
Yesterday, we spoke with Keita & Tatsushi about Collect and regarding the production process and the difference between Japan Blue and Momotaro. In part one of this exclusive interview, Keita revealed his favorite collaboration with a foreign denim store.
Today, we will delve deeper into the Japanese and the European market and Momotaro’s position in those markets.
Robin Denim: When sales are at their highest, namely 100%, how many % of the orders are coming from Japan? And how many % are from Europe?
Keita & Tatsushi: 50% of all the sales at Momotaro are from Japan. 30% of the sales are from other Asian countries, and Europe and the US takes both make up 10% of the Momotaro sales. So we can say that the challenge to enter overseas markets just started.
Robin Denim: What is the difference between the Japanese & the European Market? Price value, trends, fits etc.
Keita & Tatsushi: There are so many differences between the Japanese and the European market. For example, people from Europe are more into tapered fits and slim fits than our customers from Japan. But, these different markets have one thing in common, people love the stories of our product.
Robin Denim: What is the bestselling product in Japan? And in Europe?
Keita & Tatsushi: We are producing the jeans by each market’s needs. For example, we are supplying different fitting jeans between Japan and Overseas market. Our tight tapered 03 model and the natural tapered 06 model are both very popular in Europe and the US. There is no difference in the jeans with or without the battle stripes, both series represent 50% of the sales.
Robin Denim: Heavyweight denim is something for the hardcore denim head. Where do you sell most heavyweight denim jeans?
Keita & Tatsushi: We think heavy weight denim is not necessarily good quality denim. In our opinion characteristics and quality is more important, so that’s always our focus. In the past Collect manufactured 21 oz. + denim. But when they created 100% Zimbabwean cotton 21 oz. + the fabric lost its characteristics and became weaker. So Momotaro Jeans stopped producing jeans heavier than 20 oz. Nowadays we still sell 20 oz jeans, but only for overseas markets.
Robin Denim: Is it hard to enter foreign markets for a major denim brand such as Momotaro?
Keita & Tatsushi: Many European and American jeans brands, fast fashion brands and middle range brands have an eye on the Japanese market but they are not very successful. The reason is that the European and Japanese market is unstable and there are too many brands in a small market. For example, the retail market in Japan shrunk by 30% compared to 20 years ago, but the denim suppliers doubled. I guess that the European market isn’t different, so actually, the jeans market is too small. I think that the heritage jeans market is less than 5% of all clothing market, so it is very important to serve this 5% of the people with the kind of jeans they want. In Japan we succeeded to build our brand value. All similarly, overseas market is also very difficult for us. But we believe there are no borders when it comes to jeans. It may be that the need is not only 100% Zimbabwe cotton denim but also new cotton, new fabric and innovation with vintage to be used to express Momotaro Jeans in the future. We look forward to it!