Blueprint of Osaka – a world-class dining and denim culture
Located in Japan, Osaka is a cosmopolitan city near the ancient capital of Kyoto. It has been the economic powerhouse and transport hub of Kansai – a region in the southern-central part of Japan’s main island Honshū – for centuries and was formerly known as Naniwa. Before the Nara Period (ad 710 to 794) when the capital used to be moved with the reign of each new emperor, Naniwa was once Japan’s capital city, the first one ever known.
Today, Osaka is Japan’s second largest city and renowned for its unique chill vibe, a mixture of traditional and hyper-modern architecture, and for its glorious street food. When you’re visiting Osaka for the first time it’s advisable to keep an afternoon free to sample the delicious local dishes such as Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki. And, although the public transport system is top-notch, walking around the city will give you a true Osaka-experience. With the exception of a few busy roads in the city center, there are many unexpected quiet places to be found in Osaka.
Osaka, like Tokyo, is divided into distinct areas each with their own unmistakable character. One area a Denimhead must visit is the Horie District (the Minamihorie and Kitahorie neighborhood) which is an easy-going and stylish area, offering many fashion boutiques, small cafes and denim stores.
It can be difficult to find a handful of high-quality denim stores in most cities, in Osaka it is the other way around. With almost all major Japanese denim brands having their own flagship store in the city, we had to make a selection – so please forgive us if we missed your favorite!
Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.
HINOYA – Namba Parks
Starting with the one and only multi-brand store we visited during our 10-day stay in beautifu Osakal, HINOYA definitely deserves a spot. HINOYA has a strong and well-balanced collection and a history which goes back to the moment American vintage denim became popular in Japan. HINOYA opened its first store in Tokyo in the 1950’s, decades before the first Japanese brands were even established. HINOYA is located in Namba Parks, one of the bigger malls in the city center, and is easily reachable via the eponymously named metro station. Stepping into the store from the luxurious mall feels like traveling by time machine. The wooden floor, iron walls and rusty vintage signs give a strong vintage American feel, which is, of course, one of the major influences for Japanese denim since its inception.
The store carries a wide variety of Japanese brands including Warehouse, ONI, Pure Blue Japan and Burgus Plus (the latter of which was established in 1997 under the HINOYA umbrella). On top of the comprehensive collection at HINOYA, the store offers some super exclusive collaborations with major Japanese brands, which are only for sale in-store – reason enough to pay a visit when you are in town!
Photo courtesy of Clutch Magazine.
Evisu – Shinsaibashi
Evisu was established in 1991 and was one of the first major denim brands in Japan. Evisu has the honor of being included in the ‘Osaka 5’, meaning that they can be seen as one of the godfathers of Japanese denim. With many striking details – such as the iconic Seagull arcuate on the back pocket- the brand has a strong and unique identity, making a visit to one of their stores in Japan a must!
Although Evisu is currently making a comeback in Europe, the brand never lost its power in Japan. The brand has multiple stores in Osaka, all carrying out a carefully curated brand image. The Shinsaibashi store is staffed by seasoned Evisu Heads who have been living the brand for decades. And we promise you, if you are taking a closer look at the jeans collection, you will see more Seagulls than in a harbor when the fishing boats are returning. Another reason to visit an Evisu store is the wide variety of custom Seagulls, which can be hand-painted on a pair of jeans – talk about exclusivity!
Photo courtesy of Rubese.
Momotaro – Horie district
In the popular Horie district we found Momotaro’s Osaka flagship store. Being one of today’s leading Japanese denim brands, Momotaro has been covering a lot ground in recent years, establishing beautiful stores all over Japan. The store in the Horie district is located on a quiet street and is an excellent opportunity to get to know the brands’ core values. The store carries all popular Japan-line styles – which might not be available through your favorite denim retailers – as the brand divides its collection in two: one for Japan and one for overseas markets.
Another reason to visit any and all Momotaro stores in Japan is because each store has its own battle stripes, which are distinctive in color and pattern. These battle stripes are exclusively available in each store and can be applied onto a pair of jeans after purchase. Because these store-exclusive battle stripes aren’t for sale online, the chance of walking into a person in Europe or the USA wearing the same battle stripes is pretty slim. So you know you’ve got a rare pair of jeans. And last but not least, when you visit the store you can also take a picture together with the world-famous Mr. Momotaro a.k.a. Peach Boy.
Photo courtesy of Koen Kuik.
Studio d’Artisan – Horie district
Another member of the notorious Osaka 5 with a store in the Horie district is Studio d’Artisan. Starting in 1979 by reproducing vintage American denim, Shigeharu Tagaki, founder of the brand, stood at the cradle of Japanese denim and built a foundation for the industry as we know it today. Ever wondered why Mister Tagaki started the brand? Because he wanted to create locally crafted jeans, carefully made in small batches as a counterpart to mass-production…Sound familiar? Well Studio d’Artisan was there first and the impact of this approach still holds true in the denim community.
Today Studio d’Artisan goes beyond reproducing vintage denim pieces, which is instantly visible when entering the store in the Horie district. The collection is a mixture of hardcore selvedge denim and other outstanding traditional fabrics. The brand offers a wide variety of reversible jackets, printed tees, accessories, and of course, jeans in countless different fits and fabrics. Compared to the majority of Japanese denim brands, the collection in the store is quite formal, but don’t worry, you will get your indigo fix!
Photo courtesy of Orgueil.
The Flat Head – Horie district
Just a stone’s throw away from the Studio d’Artisan and Momotaro stores, another Japanese denim giant, ‘The Flat Head’, has established its indigo temple. Although the brand isn’t quite as old as Evisu or Studio d’Artisan, the Flat Head still occupies an important role in the Japanese denim industry. Even though there have been some major changes in the organizational structure of the brand, The Flat Head is still very sought-after and their fantastic denim store in the Horie district should definitely be on your shopping list.
What catches your eyes as soon as you enter the store is the HUGE collection of vintage-inspired tees, available with different prints and in a variety of colors. The brand was founded while the owner was running a vintage apparel store and this love for vintage American clothing is still very visible in the collections of the brand. Known for their slubby textured denim, you’ll be sure to find some denim treasures at the back of The Flat Head store!
Photo courtesy of The Flat Head.
‘City Blueprints’ is a new concept by Robin Denim, in which we combine our love for denim with our love for traveling. In City Blueprints we only mention stores we have actually visited ourselves in order to speak from our own experience. Even though we are trying to mention the coolest denim spots, we might miss some as we weren’t able to visit or didn’t know about them! So, send us a message if you think we’ve missed something!