The founder, and still the owner, of Evisu is Hidehiko Yamane. Yamane-san was trained as a tailor but his love for vintage jeans and his disappointment with the mass-produced modern versions led him firstly, to the vintage clothing import business and then, revolutionarily, to start putting together the elements required to reproduce vintage-style jeans. This required the gathering together of all the various bits of machinery, none of which had been produced for at least 40 years, which are required to make authentic vintage jeans.
The initial production line allowed about 14 pairs of jeans a day to be produced and each of them was lovingly hand-painted with the now famous seagull logo by Yamane-san himself. Evisu (also written as Evis or Ebisu) is the name of the Japanese Buddhist god of money who is usually portrayed with a fish and fishing rod. This name was selected for the new venture as money and fishing are two of Yamane-san's five favourite things (the others being beer, women and golf - in no particular order)
.Although initially Evisu was more a labour of love than a commercial venture, Evisu jeans captured the imagination of the detail-obsessed, Japanese fashion crowd, spurring a revival of interest in vintage denim which has now spread around the world. In the early nineties Yamane-san introduced a tailoring line, followed by a fishing range and a golf range. In 1999 he introduced a ladies fashion line called Evisu Donna to complete the development of Evisu as a full-fashion range going far beyond a jeans brand. Evisu now has 25 shops in Japan. In 1994 Yamane-san was visited by Peter Caplowe who became an immediate convert to the Evisu ethos. They formed a partnership to develop Evisu outside Japan that now spans the globe, selling in 400 of the world's best boutiques and department stores. Despite this phenomenal growth Evisu still remains true to its artisan roots with a fanatical devotion to quality and authenticity while maintaining those two other vital ingredients of the Evisu magic potion - humour and irreverence.
Unfortunately there is currently a lot of counterfeit Evisu available on the market. Also a worrying amount of Evisu goods available online are counterfeits.
Fortunately, there are a few websites offering genuine Evisu Clothing and there's none better than Togged.com which not only offers an unrivaled selection of Evisu garments but also offers a unique VINTAGE RANGE of authentic jeans signed by Hidehiko Yamane himself.
Evisu are offering a free validation service. If you are unsure about the authenticity of ayn Evisu item, a shop or a website, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of your concern.
WHAT MAKES EVISU SPECIAL?
Evisu has spent the last 10 years developing their jeans to be as authentic as today's vintage jeans can be.
All Evisu jeans are made of vintage selvedge denim. This means that the denim is made on old style shuttle looms rather than modern projectile looms. In simple terms this means that the cross thread in the weaving process goes back and forth during the weaving process. But modern looms, shoot each cross thread through individually, hence the edge of the cloth is frayed rather than clean (although brands who are only interested in making quick money, try to cash in by faking the smooth selvedge by stitching up the frayed edge afterwards).
No shuttle looms have be made for over 40 years as they can only make cloth about 30 inches wide whereas projectile looms can make fabric 60 inches or even wider for much less money. All the looms that make Evisu denim are practically antiques and about as reliable as a 50 year old car. Because the fabric made on these looms is so narrow we need approximately 3 yards to make each pair of jeans. To maximise the usage, the traditional method was to have a straight outside seam and cut right up to the selvedge so that when you turn the jean up you see the two selvedge edges of the denim stitched together. You can also see it on the inside of the coin pocket.
Also, all Evisu denim is indigo dyed by loop dying machines. Again, these are rare and ancient machines which basically feed a rope of cotton yarn through vats of indigo dye and then back out and up to the roof of the factory to allow the indigo to oxidise before the 'rope' goes back down into the next vat. Evisu denim has a minimum of 16 dips and some styles have 30 dips, hence the deep blue colour.
Evisu use 100cotton threads which are more authentic but break more easily during the sewing process. Evisu reproduce the original production techniques at every stage. This means using a large number of specialist sewing machines which have not been produced for many years. For example, Evisu chain stitch the hem which gives the thick stitch line visible around the hem when you turn the jean up. This requires a special machine which again has not been produced for 40 years. Wherever possible Evisu try to use Union Special machines which were the Rolls Royce of sewing machines in the US in the fifties. Many of our styles then have the logo hand painted on.
As a result of all this and a host of other details relating to every raw material and process Evisu jeans cost many times the price of normal jeans to produce. In simple terms it is the result of the Japanese fascination with details and because everybody associated with Evisu from Mr. Yamane (the Japanese owner of Evisu) down are denim 'maniacs'. This is Yamane's term by which he means something like having obsessive, almost trainspottery love for denim. Denim produced on shuttle looms is naturally irregular and these irregularities come out as the jeans fade, making every pair develop into a unique and beautiful pattern as it fades. The deep blue colour and the way the jeans fade can only be achieved by using the loop dying system and all the other details give the jeans a combination of authenticity and the knowledge that you have something that is a labour of love that no other jeans or probably any other item of clothing, in the world can give you.
Authentic Evisu, Jeans, T-shirts, Jackets and Clothes are available from a select number of websites.