Interview – Keita & Tatsushi, Momotaro Jeans – Part 1
During Selvedge Run we first met Tatsushi Tabuchi and Keita Hinamoto from Momotaro Jeans. Tatshushi is the general manager of Momotaro while Kieta is responsible for the sales in Europe. Last week we had the opportunity to speak with Keita & Tatsushi again about Momotaro Jeans in general, their fabric and their position in the different markets. Today, in part 1 of this exclusive interview, we will talk about Momotaro in general, the production process and the difference between Japan Blue and Momotaro. Tomorrow we will chat about the difference between the Japanese and the European market, and the position of Momotaro on those markets.
Robin Denim How many people are on Momotaro’s payroll? And on the payroll of Japan Blue Company?
Keita & Tatsushi: As we speak, the Momotaro team consists of 43 people and 110 people in all the Japan Blue Co., LTD. 5 years ago, there we’re only 60 people in the company, so we’re growing very fast!
Robin Denim: In their relatively short existence Momotaro has become an iconic denim brand. Can you tell us how Momotaro grew from its origin? And what divides Momotaro from other brands?
Keita & Tatsushi: Because we are originally a textile supplier, named Collect, we can work with the highest level of denim. Collect built up a great social standing and is the fabric supplier for more than 600 brands in Japan and more than 200 brands from overseas.
Every Momotaro Jeans product have a story based on the manufacturing, Japanese craftsmanship and Japanese history. The Momotaro collection is born out of the experience of Collect. ‘Denim lovers’ from all over the world support our stories, so that made Momotaro as it is today.
When we design and produce a product, we keep our eyes on the future. We don’t only pursue the appearance of a new product, but we keep the fading in mind. We believe that the true brand value is shown after wearing the items for 2 or 3 years.
Robin Denim: Momotaro did a lot of collaborations. What are the conditions for a collaboration and which collaboration do you value most?
Keita & Tatsushi: The most special jeans we’ve ever made was the 10th anniversary jeans. We released this jeans last year to celebrate our 10 years of existence. This jeans was limited and released in three fits. It was heavy on special details like a pink & gold special selvedge and a 10th anniversary leather patch. The jeans was enormously well-received by the denim community.
Keita: My favorite collaboration with another store is the 20 oz. jeans we’ve made with ‘Blue Owl’. We still haven’t collaborated with a European brand, we are looking forward to do so in the future.
Robin Denim: Japan Blue Jeans is founded by the same company as Momotaro, what is the difference between those two brands?
Keita & Tatsushi: Japan Blue Jeans is more fashion minded and they work with a lot of different fabrics and they have a wider target. The mission of Japan Blue Jeans is to introduce Japanese Denim to customers all over the world. Also the prices of the Japan Blue Jeans are lower, but we still offer extremely high quality.
Both brands are innovated by Japanese craftsman’s traditional techniques and our eye for detail. Momotaro utilize Collect’s experience and techniques. When Collect was founded they made new denim that no one had even seen before. They started by dismantling vintage jeans to research their kind of fabric. During this research, we noticed that good fading vintage jeans were made with long fiber cotton. Because US cotton exist of short fiber cotton, we continued the search for a better quality. Then we found Zimbabwean cotton, a long fiber kind of cotton with pure whiteness. In that time, Zimbabwean cotton was used in high class dress shirts in Europe, but it was not suitable to build a jeans. So we partnered with a Japanese spinning company and we developed a yarn of long fiber cotton suitable for jeans. Although the price of the fabric doubled compared to usual denim, the softness combined with the strength was what we pursued.
The 100% Zimbabwean cotton fabric became the masterpiece of Collect and Momotaro Jeans only use this type of cotton. Nowadays Momotaro Jeans is the masterpiece of collect and Japan Blue Jeans was founded to introduce Japanese Denim to the world.
Robin Denim: Everything, from cotton to jeans, is made in Okayama. Can you describe the production process?
Keita & Tatsushi: The cotton we use is from Zimbabwe because this quality of cotton is not cultivated in Japan. All the other stages of the manufacturing take place in Kojima, Japan. The products are designed by us, developed by us and assembled by us in several factories. Every item is inspired through our discussion with retailers and customers.
Robin Denim: How does Momotaro interact and listen to the community, and do you have an example of the community directly influencing a product?
Keita & Tatsushi: We visit our retailers several times a year to check the situation of the stores ourselves. During these visits, we discuss the latest trends and customers’ demands etc. These visits help us in making our new collection, so the retailers and the customers have a direct influence on the products.
Tomorrow, in part two of this exclusive interview, we will chat about the difference between the Japanese and the European market, and the position of Momotaro on those markets.