Summer-Weight Denim to Beat the Heat!
Already deep into summer, we soon will be at a point where high noon is unbearable, but like all denim warriors, we wear our raws proudly through the sweat, discomfort — and looking stylish as hell — because it is important to make sacrifices for what you love. So following our last Blog Post that showcased the must-have vintage-made t-shirts of your favorite Japanese brands, we now turn our attention to the bottoms, the core, our passion: denim… with a summer twist. If you want to skip the read and go straight to our selection including all light denim we have available, click here. Our recommendation: continue reading to get an idea of the highlights (pun intended) we have in the summer denim department before you dive deep into the full selection.
You will find this interesting, as the original denim made by Levi’s in the middle of the 19th century was actually similar to some of these weights. The OG Levi’s 1890 Model was a mere 9oz and even up until 1922, the weight only graduated to 10oz, which seems incomparably light to some of our favorites, like the coveted Samurai 24oz and 21oz. Yet, at the same time, these lighter denims of yore, were the thing to wear, because they were durable, wearable, practical and reliable, and because they were, again, the original.
It’s a funny thing how now to brave the summer heat we look for denim a weight similar to original Levi’s to just cool down in. Most brands we carry comfortably float in the 14-17oz range. Often a pair, like the popular ONI 20oz Secret Denim with a looser weave can feel lighter than it is. That’s generally true for all loose weave, low tension denim, including consistent loose weave offerings from brands most recognized for it like ONI Denim, Pure Blue Japan or, the newest member of that club, Tanuki, and also some selected offerings from others like The Strike Gold and Japan Blue.
In any case, if you’re looking for true light denim options, we’ve eliminated the guesswork for you: Here are your champions for braving this summer in style (and here is the link to the wider selection of light denim, where you are sure to find something to your taste).
ONI Light – What in the beautiful raw denim hell is this??
We’re not exaggerating, get ready to have your jaw hit the ground. Masters of slub, ONI’s newest launch is the perfect way to get some reprieve from the summer heat. We had never–seriously, we repeat, NEVER–seen any light fabrics with the character and slub of these. ON once again proving to the world that they can continue to innovate in this ironically, old-school traditional industry. The “ONI Light” check off all the boxes you’ll need — a beautiful low tension weave clocking in at 12.5oz is not only light but is also breathable. (We also hear it’s a fast fading fabric!). This is your hundred degrees pair — there’s no excuse for not wearing denim in August now! 😉 Not all denim has to be blue to be denim, and so at that same weight, ONI is offering a 12.5oz undyed cotton denim that checks off your other boxes — looking fly and a great stand-in for khakis, if you dare. The comfy tapered silhouette and revamped patch don’t hurt either.
In Classic OG Japanese Denim style: Studio D’Artisan kills it, as always.
Studio D’Artisan is one of the DEFINITIVE OG’s of Japanese denim, so they absolutely know what they’re doing with every release. Each new weight, dye, cut is never an experimentation; it is a direct response to what their fanbase wants and needs, and SDA responds as the changing of the seasons. A nice, classic tight straight fit with all the SDA signature details, down to the patch on the coin pocket, this pair does something a lot of other SDA denim doesn’t — every last detail is reproduced faithfully from their classic series but in a 12oz weight. Comfort, style, elegance. Get em while they’re hot. This pair’s taper with the simultaneous room would make it the perfect candidate to roll up a leg while cycling or roll up both up high while canoeing. And on that note…
it was insane though! if you were somewhat near, there was a torrential downpour of denim on us all. Nothing That fits well as this.
This new offering by Japan Blue is ideal in every way. First, let’s look at how incredibly well-priced this beautiful stuff is! And, the 50’s cut!?! Sign us up. A lighter indigo color to not absorb too much of that summer sun paired with a traditional American and UK fit with ample room in the top block still with a handsome and stylish taper make this the perfect blend of classic everything and contemporary fitting. Not to mention, these beauties stretch, for when you’re out running marathons in your summer 10oz denim 😉
The Super Lightweight category has a fantastic answer to a difficult question by Momotaro.
A play on Momotaro‘s GTB series, these are another fantastic option clocking in at 10oz as well. These have a bit larger of a fit than the previous Japan Blue denim, and a bit darker of a color. Momotaro has faithfully captured their deep blue hue seen in all of their flagship 15.7oz denim, but eased on the weight and made the cut more comfortable. With these, you get the best of Momotaro‘s classic styling with breezy comfort. The GTB stripes add a nice air of coolness to these, as well, which pairs well with the coming season, white tee shirts, sunglasses, and walks in the park (where you’ll get to talk about your denim to those passerby admirers).
Then you wait until you see your GTB Battle Stripe Admirers. Send them our way, or keep your coolness to yourself 😉
Serious Old-School Style. No, seriously Old School, capital O and capital S. And serious style. They don’t come with a lasso but please, somebody grab one for the best raw denim Insta shot ever and we will repay you with a repost. We love you.
Pherrow‘s is a brand often overlooked, but they have done something fantastic with this pair that isn’t to be missed. Using classic Right Hand Twill weaving — not unlike OG Levi’s lighter oz denim — but in a more contemporary cut and weight at 13.5oz. Taking cues from tight straight cuts at the forefront of the scene, this tight straight cut exemplifies what you should be looking for in a summer pair: comfort and crispness with serious fading potential.
New, fresh, tight as hell: Hand Room is innovative, comfy and a surefire, sexy contender against others. Try ‘em!
One of our newest brands, Hand Room, has cuts and styles released in unique ways to a degree where you never knew you needed them. Also at a comfortable 13.5oz, the cut in this pair is kingly. While sized unusually, by S/M/L, vs. 28/30/32 etc, these jeans do something a lot of other lighter Japanese denim doesn’t: They maintain a roomy-as-hell fit while still looking fitted and classic. Give Hand Room a try; you won’t regret them. Not only are they doing everything right, they’re doing everything because they love what they do, and since we love them, we had to bring them into the family.
Are you looking for more Old School? We heard you were looking for more Old School!
Sugar Cane’s 1947 pair does what a lot of other pairs do not — summerweight, winter-weight, or any-season weight. This is a pair that absolutely breathes heritage. For reference, we’re looking at a pair made by Toyo, that has masterfully woven some of the coolest yarns into one of the most precious cuts. The 1947 501 is about as essential as it gets. First off, we’re looking at serious room where you want it. Look at old school denim from the late forties. They knew how to stay cool. Second, this denim is at a comfy 12oz, super comfortable, and also a silhouette to knock you out. You want to look as stylish and stay as cool, in more ways than one, than the hippest dudes from the late 40’s, here’s your chance!
Whoever told you that black kevlar jeans could not be lightweight obviously doesn’t have a degree in nuclear denim science.
Initial science behind this: Is black a hot color? Does kevlar add to the heat? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be correct. Do you think we have a solution that could fix this? If you answered yes to this question, preferably while riding your motorcycle (but not texting while driving!!) you also may be right. Kojima Genes has developed a denim and a jean that defies the laws of alchemy itself. No, seriously — now you can ride your motorcycle, or just look cool as hell in some dark ass denim that won’t attract all the heat in the world on your legs — at least not the kind of heat you think. We recommend using the belt loop ring as your phone number Rolodex 😉
For the record, we do have degrees in nuclear denim science, which is why we endorse these so highly. You’re gonna love em! 🙂
An overlooked but not-to-be-overlooked any longer brand, Kuro, comes at us, with something to behold: old school 12oz denim with dope-as-hell flair.
Firstly, the denim kills it, as everything Kuro does. We’d happily have Kuro do our bedsheets, dog collars, socks, pillows…be our bffs…We’re talking about a beautifully woven selvedge denim with just the right color hue. This is a denim hue we dream of — and trust us, we see more than a few — and to have that in summer?! Yes, please! Not to be forgotten are all the incredible details this (and every pair by Kuro) have. Incredible patch and silhouette thread hanging on the other side, tonal buttons, inner patch information (seriously, especially for this price, how cool is it that you get this level of origin information!?), and the beautiful red selvedge. If you’re looking for something more of the same, but also a little different, this is it, and what a price it is!
AND NOW…For those really, really, really hot days where you just want to sit and melt? You don’t have to want to melt, actually, on that thought, don’t. Stay hydrated. That’s why we’re here to help.
Here are some other stretch light denims. Thank us later. This is the strongest of the light. We do yardwork and trailblaze in these:
We’ll start with the obvious: BIG JOHN CAN DO NO WRONG. Anything that is lighter won’t draw as much of the blistering sun onto your legs, and anything that stretches will be more forgiving while the sun still does! There are a few stellar options out there that aren’t to be overlooked, even if you’re not so much into lighter denim, we back these 100%, and love them on hot hot days. Catch us behind the BBQ in one of these.
And, always, JAPAN BLUE WILL ALWAYS, ALWAYS LOVE YOU AND HAVE YOUR BACK.
This next pair that screams start with the stretch, end with the rest! So we’ll do that. Uhh…look at that stretch for a second? Did you see that? That’s a stretch with a capital, bolded, italicized, and size 72 font for the S. That’s the sort of pair you can find yourself running around in, biking in, swimming in, dreaming in (if that’s your thing), or straight up kickin’ back in. These stretch, look sharp as hell, have the guaranteed, sweet, Big John heritage, and come with a higher fabric kickback than almost all pairs out there. This is a pair that will say please and thank you alongside a glass of lemonade. Thank you.
ON the topic of lemonade, what makes for a better pair of denim after having a lot of refreshments that one that is both light and comes with a zipper vs. a button fly? This pair. Sure, you can unbutton quickly most if you’re crafty, but, uh, why wait? The zipper has been around for more than a little while, but the desire for pants that are light and comfortable has existed since…pants. This is a trouser-cut denim that can double as your trouser if need be, and not only can you beat the heat with a lighter shade of blue, but you can also beat your coworker in the office style pool for the most indigo-drenched, comfiest-denim, coolest-persona around with these. Just don’t tell him where you got em 😉
Did you know that there are actual denim wizards making actual wizard denim? OK not really, but for those who are more into style, check out these amazing hand-distressed light options. We consider them to be wizards.
In case you didn’t, we wanted to share. We know a lot of the hobby is going from a dark raw to a natural lighter tone, but there’s so much more depth to it than that. And so many pairs that will prove themselves fantastic for fighting the summer all the while.
Brands like Eternal — the absolute masters of denim distressing, FOB Factory — a brand with a great legacy, great construction and a fantastic price, and, an all-time favorite also at a great price, Japan Blue, all have a lot to offer when it comes to distressing. In many ways, distressing is the denim world’s answer to beat the heat. Beautiful. Soft. Light. Wonderful.
And, in even more ways, it is a simple answer to a difficult question: How do you rock your fav Japanese raws in the heat? Few words. Eternal, FOB Factory, Japan Blue. Simple.
Revisiting Momo‘s religiously-indigo flagship denim, whittled down to comfy 10oz, these shorts are a fantastic compromise for those that want to forgo cuffing entirely. A solid length with a comfy rise, these are your best bet for summer denim shorts. It’s simple. They have nothing you don’t need. Try ’em on. Then try to take ’em off.