By Robin | February 05, 2021


Brand:  Oni Denim
Product name:  622ZR AIZ x BK
Fit:  Relaxed Tapered 
Materials:  20 oz. Secret Denim 
Made in:  Japan
Price at Denimio: €210 (including free worldwide shipping)

The word ‘Oni’ ( おに in Japanese ) derives from Japanese folklore and can be translated to demon, ogre, or troll in English. ‘Oni’ can also be used as an adjective to describe something that is extremely strong or hard, eg. ‘Strong like the Devil’ or ‘Hard like the Devil’. All this and more is reflected in the branding and product of the cult Japanese denim brand known as ‘Oni Denim’. 


The Facts

Okayama-based denim brand Oni was founded by Masao Oishi and was built on decades of experience in the denim industry. From an early age Mr. Oishi-san started to work for his father’s company in Tokyo, where he was in-charge of importing vintage Levi’s garments from the USA. Later, Mr. Oishi-san was involved with the first ever Japanese denim brand, Canton Jeans. In the early 1970’s, he then became one of the first members of the Levi’s Japan team and further helped to lay the foundations for the Japanese denim industry which we know today. With all this combined experience, it’s hardly surprising that Mr Oishi-san is a master-weaver when it comes to denim and his brand Oni holds cult status amongst international denimheads. 

Even though Oni Denim made its debut years ago, the brand is still shrouded in mystery. Mr. Oishi-san doesn’t do interviews and the brand isn’t as accessible via social media channels as many brands are today. Rumor has it that Mr. Oishi-san is the only one who is capable of weaving the renowned denim fabrics of Oni, while using just one machine. Even though we couldn’t verify this information, we know that one thing is for sure; Oni has and continues to produce some of the most slubby, irregular and characteristic denim fabrics to come out of Japan which has led to them being held in very high regard the world-over. 


ONIPhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.


By Denimio

Denimio is known to be one of the biggest online Japanese denim retailers and offers the ultimate in Japanese denim for an incredibly competitive price, including worldwide shipping. The store has a strong relationship with the brands they are offering and they are as just as much consultants as they are a retailer. Denimio carries all the well known Japanese denim brands, but has also been offering a global stage to smaller and upcoming brands from the promised land.

We were asked by Denimio to review the ONI-622ZR-AIZxBK and obviously we couldn’t refuse this gracious gesture. We’re thankful to work with Denimio and for their support. Obviously, we intend to remain impartial when reviewing product but with these jeans it didn’t take long for us to be swayed! Read on to find out why…


The Fit of the ONI-622ZR-AIZxBK 

Another distinction that can be applied to Oni denim is that the fits offered by the brand have been contemporary and forward-thinking from day one. While many Japanese brands begin their denim journey by offering a ‘classic’ jeans fit and then offering more modern silhouettes, Oni was ahead of the game. This, along with the prowess of their denim, has allowed the brand to become well known all over the world, especially with Asia and Europe (to a lesser extent the USA).

The ONI-622ZR-AIZxBK are cut in Oni’s Relaxed Tapered fit, which is designed with a relaxed top block to provide ample room in the seat, leading into a strong taper through the legs down to the hem. The silhouette maintains a slim and modern silhouette, reflective of current denim trends. 


ONIPhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.


The Manufacturing

In the ultimate attempt to provide you with some classified information on Oni’s ‘Secret Denim’, we reached out to the brand as well as our friends at Denimio, hoping for a quote or two about the manufacturing process. We knew our chances were slim and even though the team at Denimio was great as usual, we still ended up empty handed. This really is a closely guarded secret!

What we do know is that the fabric is woven in-house and that the shuttle looms have been adjusted dramatically in order to weave this typical low-tension Oni Denim fabric. This goes hand in hand with the denim folklore that there’s only one loom which can produce the fabric and only Mr Oishi-San himself can operate it…

But that’s all we can say for now. 


The Fabric

Since the beginning, Oni has always excelled in denim production. The brand were one of the first to really elevate the production process to an art form, resulting in a denim canvas that is unique and unparalleled. In recent years Oni has released some incredible fabrics including a natural indigo series, as well as their renowned Secret Denim. Known for their coarse texture and slub, Oni fabrics are woven from long staple 100% cotton yarns on vintage looms.

A new addition to the Secret Denim lineup, the 20oz Secret Aizumi x Black denim goes a step beyond what we’ve seen at other brands. For this fabric, Oni blended an Aizumi warp yarn with a black weft yarn for a unique inky dark color. The word ‘Aizumi’, brings together the Japanese words for indigo (aizome) and black (sumi), which is what Oni have done with the warp yarn. The warp yarns have been rope dyed with both indigo and black, while the weft yarns were rope-dyed with a black dye only. While the fabric seems to be predominantly black, the indigo color will come out over the course of wear, promising unique and outstanding fades.

The fabric comes at a weight of 20 ounce per square yard, which is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Oni’s ‘Secret Denim’ offering. The slubby, irregular and highly textured fabric is a contradiction by itself – its rough yet soft and rigid but comfortable. Although the dyeing process have given the fabric a crisp texture, more rigid than previous ‘Secret Denim’ fabrics, it is surprisingly comfortable for a heavyweight fabric. And, due to its low-tension weave, the fabric will soften further over time to an incredible level of comfort. The fabric was cut and sewn in an unsanforized state, but to eliminate most of the shrinkage, Denimio are offering the jeans in a one-wash state.


ONIPhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.


The Details

At first sight, the jeans have a very clean appearance. The ink dark fabric in combination with the black hardware is subtle and modern. But taking a closer look, the jeans are bursting with great details. Here’s a breakdown:

  • 20 oz. 100% cotton selvedge denim fabric
  • One-wash finish
  • Red and white selvedge
  • Custom engraved black hardware
  • Hidden rivets
  • Raised belt loops
  • Peek-a-boo selvedge coin pocket 
  • Indigo dyed deerskin leather patch 


The Conclusions 

The jeans are no surprise from a denim giant such as Oni. The signatures of fabric texture, weight and design details are all evident. It’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from a denim master such as Mr. Oishi-san. With the ‘Secret Denim’ lineup, Oni have created high expectations amongst its fans, but they never disappoint in any way. This jean is a textbook example of why Oni Denim are a leading premium denim brand who continue to innovate and excel. 

The story behind the brand, or better the lack of a story, keeps ONI Denim shrouded in mystery. On one hand we feel that we want to know all ins-and-outs of the brand. Who is Mr. Oishi-san? And what are his secrets? But, on the other hand, the mystery, the unknown, is exactly what we love about the brand. Mr. Oishi-san chose to avoid the media and decided to let his fabrics speak for themselves.

And last but not least, what’s the cost? Well, you might be surprised. The jeans come in at the incredible price of €210 including free worldwide shipping. Considering the fabric, the manufacturing, the quality, and the details, we feel is remarkable value for money. 

Head over to for more information about the ONI 622ZR AIZxBK and take a moment to see what else the store is offering! 




ONIPhoto courtesy of Koen Kuik.