SHIBA and ASAGI
Start your engines for the biggest launch of 2021. Let us give you a bit of context here. In 2020, innovative dyeing techniques became all the rage. We have experimented with natural dyes (Kakishibu, Sumi with Studio d’Artisan) and cutting edge fabrics (paper denim with TCB) in prior collaborations.
When we started planning this, we were hoping to release this limited edition just in time for the Summer, hopefully in a world without lockdowns, where we can all enjoy being out in nature with our friends – we’re almost there, and we think you will love what we cooked up.
So we sat down with ONI in Fall 2020 and discussed our desire to bring botanical dyes to the Secret Denim, an absolute classic in every denimhead’s wardrobe. The master behind ONI has been pushing boundaries for decades and he was immediately on board for the journey. He was working on the Dark Indigo Secret Denim at the time and suggested using this inky blue fabric as a basis. We wanted botanical dyes for the colours green and blue, reminding us of nature and the open oceans, two things we associate with a carefree life.
The master did a lot of research and presented us with two options that blew us away. He came up with two fabrics that are just next level: The SHIBA and the ASAGI.
The SHIBA is dyed with Japanese grasses, a botanical dye that is both rare and very labour intensive. This dyeing technique involves only natural materials including tree back, flowers, seeds, roots, and grass. This traditional method has been used in Japan for centuries but became less common in the 19th century with the rise of synthetic dyes. While green, as a color, is everywhere to be found in nature, the green pigment chlorophyll is quite weak and will fade away quickly. But ONI solved that by adding Kariyasu, a Japanese rice grass from the Ibukiyama mountain near Lake Biwa in Shiga which is legendary for its high-quality fauna. The rich green has freckles of lighter green, almost yellow – and it’s such a vibrant and textured fabric with an incredibly vivid surface.
The ASAGI is dyed with the woad plant. Woad, the Isatis tinctoria, is a famous natural dye and source of natural blue dye, which has been around for thousands of years. The blue pigment is extracted from the dark blue-green leaves of the woad which looks but like spinach. It results in a lighter and very unique shade of blue and ever since the rise of indigo, woad has become rare as a dye: it’s more expensive, takes more time to make and indigo is more efficient when it comes to dyeing. But since the shade of blue the woad plant produces is so special, it has seen a bit of renaissance lately. ONI did go the extra mile and tracked down an enthusiastic indigo farmer in Tokushima at the eastern end of the island of Shikoku, who was able to supply him with a small batch of woad. The different shades of blue give this ultra slubby fabric an extraordinary depth that gives the secret denim a whole new character.
Well, we love these fabrics but we had to tackle some issues. First of all, the denim is limited, we couldn’t make as many of these as we wanted. The second issue is more significant: these botanically dyed fabrics come at a price. This release would be 50% more expensive than a regular pair of secret denim.
For this release, we wanted to say thank you for sticking with us through thick and thin. We wanted to celebrate life, the community, and the beauty of Japanese denim. And we wanted everyone to be able to afford these. So raising the price was not an option for us. We talked with ONI about our options and the master had some fantastic ideas: let the fabric be the star, no unnecessary details that drive the price: no custom leather patch, no special pocket lining, no embroideries, not even a special paper flasher. Everything that drives the price up had to go. You will still get all the bells and whistles, the hidden rivets, slubby selvedge denim made on vintage shuttle looms, the raised belt-loops, the hidden selvedge in the coin pocket, and the perfect vintage construction you have come to know from ONI. The master also created a stamp for us and imprinted all the pocket flashers himself. We lower our margins on this as well to keep the price down for all of you.
And it worked: we are proud to say that together with ONI we were able to release this deluxe fabric at the same price as the regular secret denim. We will be eternally grateful for the master’s help and all of his assistance.
This limited batch is available in the following cuts:
902OZR = High Rise Tapered Fit in the SHIBA fabric
246OZR = Modern Regular Straight Fit in the SHIBA fabric
02527POZR = Type 3 Jacket in the SHIBA fabric
622BZR = Relaxed Tapered Fut in the ASAGI fabric
679BZR = Relax Spike Fit in the ASAGI fabric
These are very limited in numbers and won’t come back. Thank you all for your continued support. We wouldn’t be here without you. Enjoy this passion project with us!