What is Okayama Denim?
Okayama denim refers to a denim fabric made in Okayama Prefecture, Japan. From old times, Okayama has flourished in cotton and indigo cultivation and enjoyed abundant clean water suitable for dyeing, growing as a production center for indigo dyed fabrics. Currently, more than 90% of domestic denim is produced in Okayama prefecture and its surrounding areas. Okayama denim, manufactured using long-established high-level technology, attracts considerable attention from all over the world and is adopted by many western luxury brands.
History of Okayama Denim
Cotton cultivation is said to have been introduced to Okayama prefecture around the year 1500.
Around 1600, when indigo dyeing was passed down to the area, cotton fabric created by weaving cotton yarn dyed with color created from cultivated indigo flower spread throughout the country as Okayama’s local product. In 1901, Okayama started to produce thick fabric dyed in indigo, called “Bichu-Kokura-Ori”, which was used for school uniforms and work clothes. Many of the products were also exported overseas. As “Bichu-Kokura-Ori” shares similar characteristics to what was being called “denim” in the United States, Okayama is also referred to as the root of Japanese denim.
With the influx of American culture brought in by GHQ after the World War II, Okayama commenced full-scale jeans production using American denim. By around 1970, Okayama grew to produce 15 million pairs of jeans per year, accounting for 75% of the domestic jeans production. With a long history and high product quality, Okayama is known as a “sacred place of denim”.
※Photo courtesy of Kuroki Co., Ltd.