Interview -Kishimoto, managing director of Japan Blue Jeans
Japan Blue Jeans was founded by the Japan Blue Company in Okayama, Japan five years ago. The Japan Blue Company is one of the most popular denim companies in the world and is also founder of Momotaro Jeans, Soulive and the denim mill Collect Co. The company started as a weaving company in 1992 and evolved to a gathering of leading denim brands, among which, Japan Blue Jeans.
After the establishment of Momotaro Jeans, there was a big wish to launch a new brand. So, when things were going pretty well The Japan Blue Company, founded Japan Blue Jeans, led by Kishimoto. One of the reasons to establish Japan Blue Jeans, was showing people the quality, the fade potential and the feeling of the denim woven by Collect Co.
Kishimoto started working in the jeans business over 20 years ago and covered many facets in this industry. He used to work as a designer, marketer and supplied the production for over 100 brands in 13 years. Seven years ago, he decided to move to Japan Blue Jeans and before he became the managing director, he was responsible for the designs and the marketing. As managing director, Kishimoto is responsible for every collection at Japan Blue Jeans. He is involved in developing new fabrics and he checks the sales and production situations. On top of that, Kishimoto travels a lot to the USA, Asia and Europe and visits trade shows and retailers.
We had the honour to speak with Kishimoto about the ins and outs of Japan Blue Jeans. We also discussed the difference between Momotaro Jeans and Japan Blue Jeans and we talked about some different types of cotton.
In its relatively short existence, Japan Blue has become a popular brand. Can you tell us how Japan Blue has grown from its origin?
We have started Japan Blue Jeans with a focus on the overseas market instead of Japan. In the first two years, we didn’t even sell at all in Japan. This is very different compared to other Japanese brands. Normally Japanese denim brands design for Japanese people, but we focused our fits and style on the people overseas. This is the reason why JBJ has grown so fast!
What differentiates Japan Blue Jeans from other brands?
Japan Blue Company is from origin a weaving factory, known as Collect. Japan Blue, started as a brand, only five years ago, so it is still a young and new brand. But, despite the fact that the brand is only five years old, we already have 26 years of experience in development and creating high quality selvedge denim fabrics. This experience and knowledge is our strongest feature and differentiates us from other brands.
Japan Blue and Momotaro are owned by the same company, do you guys work together? If so, how do you work together?
With both our own history and vision, we mostly work separately, as two different companies. But of course, we share information about the markets, trends and retailers. We take advantage of each other’s experience and knowledge and we love drinking a beer together.
Momotaro only uses Zimbabwean cotton, what about Japan Blue? What types of cotton do you use? And why these types of cotton?
We use many different types of cotton with origins like; The USA, Côte d’ivoire and Australia. All those types of cotton have their own strengths and features. For most of our fabrics we use a blend of cotton types to increase the durability and fade potential. I am very proud that Japan Blue Jeans was the first company in the world that introduced a pair of jeans made of 100% Côte d’ivoire cotton.
Because Japan Blue Jeans is born out of a weaving company, we can produce a lot of different fabrics. With for example the heavy slub and hard touch denim we want our customers to enjoy a lot of different fabrics, and eventually very different fadings. Also, by using a lot of different fabrics, we want to show our customers the variety and possibilities we have with our jeans.
You mentioned you are very proud of Japan Blue being the first company that introduced a pair of jeans made of 100% Côte d’ivoire cotton. What is so special about this fabric?
Most of the cotton types are genetically engineered to improve durability and lifetime. Some reasons to improve a cotton breed are to increase the long fibers, to soften the feeling or to whiten the color. Côte d’ivoire cotton is not genetically engineered, it is 100% pure cotton and harvested by hand. This type of cotton has a natural touch, a natural ecru color and will fade naturally.
Many Japanese brands work with a collection for the Japanese market and another collection focused on the overseas Does this apply to Japan Blue as well? If so, what is the difference between those collections?
Our collection in Japan is the same as the collection for the overseas market. One of the differences is that almost every pair of jeans for the overseas market is raw and in Japan we have a lot of rinsed jeans, though made in the same model.
About the overseas market, which continent is currently the best market for Japan Blue? Why do you think so?
Europe is the best overseas market for Japan Blue Jeans. It is a difficult market, because there are so many different people with so many different body types. The most important point of interest of the collection in Europe is the silhouette. The fit has to be perfect for both a skinny person and a big guy. If we can provide all European people, we can cover any place in the world.
Japan Blue items are less expensive compared to items from Momotaro, what are the main reasons for the difference?
The biggest difference between Japan Blue Jeans and Momotaro is the different concept. We are completely focused on the fabric and our purpose is to show many different fabrics to our customers. To keep the price low, we remove ‘unnecessary’ details and designs.
What is the bestselling product at Japan Blue? Why do you think so? Is it different for Japan and overseas?
At the moment, our bestselling model everywhere is the JB0401. The fit is well received and is perfect for people in the USA, Europe and Japan. The fabric of the JB0401 feels and the fade potential is really good.
Besides the JB0401, the JB0606 is on the rise. The JB0606 is a more relaxed fit, and that is what the market needs. So, I think that the JB0606 will be the bestselling model in the future.
What is, in your opinion, the most special item Japan Blue Jeans has ever made?
For me, the most special item is the JB0463, 13.5oz Côte d’ivoire tapered. The fabric of these jeans have a natural soft feeling and fades so beautifully. The selvedge ID displays the flag of Côte d’ivoire and Japan. This pair of jeans is made in a tapered fit, which is in my opinion the best.