At the beginning of my journey, denim woven in the UK was No. 1 on my list. After a lot of research and conversations I reluctantly accepted that denim weaving had ceased some time ago and although there was a hopeful glimmer when a company started weaving denim in Lancashire it was not to be. It may not be the end of this story.

However, I decided without too much persuasion to look to Japan for their rich heritage in denim weaving and also their willingness to supply small quantities of fabric. No easy task when you are starting out.

The mill we work with is one of the most highly revered denim and textile mills in Japan, with their knowledge and expertise spanning over 100 years. At the heart of their company is tradition and craftsmanship passed from the Taisho Era of dyeing to weaving. The denim is produced in Ibara, Okayoma, the centre of denim production in Japan – it’s an area that benefits from a mild climate and abundant water, thus a perfect climate for growing cotton and indigo.

The cotton is yarn dyed, using ancient techniques of dyeing along with natural indigo dye, as opposed to synthetic indigo which is so often used in denim production. Natural indigo dyeing gives the denim a beautiful depth of colour and rich tone – it takes longer but the result is worth it and it fits with our own ethos of slow fashion. Here at The smockworks we work with three shades, from a light sky blue through to a mid indigo to the darkest of dark blue. It took a long time to find these three, getting the right weight, composition and colour, with much sampling along the way. But boy were we pleased with the result.

With no mass production methods, weaving is done on older style machines ensuring highest levels of attention to detail, quality and craftsmanship. The output, beautiful original fabrics. It’s often referred to as ‘gentle weaving.’

The mill works with some of the finest Japanese denim brands, so we are very happy to be in such good company. Look out for more posts on our fabric.