The Beginner's Guide To Japanese Raw Denim Brands | CoolJapan

Welcome to the world of raw denim, where terms like selvedge and sanforized are not unusual. But really, raw denim is simple: it's denim that's free from cosmetic alterations. We don't realise it, but most denim clothing off the rack have been through a lot of alterations, such as distressed, stretched and faded. 

Japanese Raw Denim Brands

What makes raw denim so special and why should you bother investing in one? It all boils down to owning something one-of-a-kind. In a society where fast fashion is the norm, raw denim is somewhat a rebellion. Because of its virgin state, after the initial break-in, it will shrink to fit the owner's legs and develop unique fades and tears that will enhance its look. 

But let's get something straight: just because it's "raw" doesn't mean that it's cheap. On the contrary, it can be quite expensive. One pair of raw denim pants can cost around upwards of USD90. Why? First, the materials used are of premium quality and the stitching is very well done. Second, supply is pretty low and it's produced in countries with a very high labour cost such as Japan — the raw denim capital. Ask raw denim geeks and they'll tell you that those made from Japan are among the best in the market. So if you're looking to start on this journey, it's best to look for Japanese denim brands that are known for their raw denim. Keep reading to get to know them.

Iron Heart 

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Known for their tightly woven topnotch construction and rugged look, Iron Heart denim is a popular choice among the biker community. If you're looking for a pair that will withstand the test of time and survive extreme use, this is the brand for you. Just a caution, Iron Heart is also famous for their super heavy denim weight so be prepared for a longer breaking-in period. You can check out their local stockists here.

Samurai Jeans

For those who love to score limited edition designs, look at Samurai Jeans' selections. More often than not, they have one-off series that are hard to resist. It's also the place to go for classic cuts with a modern fit and jeans that fade easily. 

Pure Blue Japan

True blue denim fanatics will love this brand because of their wide denim variety. They don't just specialise in jeans but also offers jackets and other denim tops. Pure Blue Jeans is also known for their heavily texturised, "slubby" denim that sets them apart from other brands. This results from their intricate process of dyeing the yarn first and using customised knitting machines. Sadly, Pure Blue Jeans are not currently accepting international orders but you may send an inquiry here to know about local distributors.


Before Re/Done and Reformation, there was Evisu. A denim company that started by reproducing vintage cuts, quality and silhouettes, it has now transformed into a global brand and one of the most renowned producers of luxury streetwear denim. What puts Evisu above the rest is definitely the eccentric designs in its pieces. You would find anything from Japanese art to quirky patches and more. But despite the popularity of the recent designs, the classic Evisu lot 2000 No.1 and No.2 denim still remain the most beloved.

The Flat Head

On the hunt for classics with a modern upgrade? Check out The Flat Head. This brand prides itself in paying homage to the traditional way of creating quality denim with detailed stitching. Its philosophy is all about producing products that will last through the years and outlive trends, so most of the selections are elegant straight leg cuts. It's the best pick for those who are looking for go-to jeans. 

Next, check out how members of the Clozette Community style their jeans.