eternal 888 denim diary: bukit batok nature park

Bukit Batok Nature Park. A small park that packed with so many surprises. Spotted Thrasher birds, Temasek shrimps and of course with the tranquil quarry. My Eternal 888 is 1 year 10 months old//1 soak//2 wash//worn 5 days per week// This stage most fadings are obvious. Train tracks, whiskers, honeycombs, roping and vertical fading to name a few of them. Will show more details soon :-O

Levi’s 501XX 1966 & Type III trucker jacket

Here is one of my favourite Levi’s 501XX 1966 model wearing to work. Hasn’t been washing since a year ago, so far he has no odour. Light weight denim with the tapered silhouette. Worn since 2009. 7 years 10 months old. Size 30/32. 9 washes. Hand-painted NASA “Spacewalk of Gemini”. Not forgetting my beloved trucker jacket from my late father.

ETERNAL 888 DENIM DIARY: bmx

Eternal 888 BMX in jeans 3Eternal 888 BMX in jeans 2

I get stoked doing all these little thrill on my wethepeople and my beloved Eternal 888. 1 year 8 months old//1 soak//2 wash//worn 5 days per week//

Zimbabwe cotton and Fullcount

Know more about the best cotton in the world as used by fullcount denim jeans. Thanks to article with an exclusive interview by heddels.com

cotton ball in hands

A Look At Zimbabwe Cotton with Full Count’s Mikiharu Tsujita

One of the crucial elements that separates the raw denim hobby from ordinary consumer fashion is the careful consideration of the materials used to construct the jeans. If the modern raw denim movement was born from a fascination with selvedge denim and vintage shuttle looms, it grew up as manufacturers pressed further into a drive for unique garments featuring not just old-fashion fabrics, but carefully-selected machinery and materials ranging from rebuilt Union Specials to original copper rivets, iron buttons, and heavy-gauge cotton thread.

But out of all the elements present in creating a pair of high-quality jeans, cotton is the most basic and essential ingredient. It is the foundation upon which everything else is built. And among all the different varieties of cotton available–ranging from Texas and California cotton to luxurious Supima and fine Egyptian varieties–Zimbabwe cotton stands out as the superlative variety for denim.

The question of whether one cotton or another is better is to some extent subjective and depends upon the specific requirements of a brand, Zimbabwe cotton stands out for a variety of reasons. It’s picked by hand, not machines, and only one crop is produced per year, giving the production of this cotton an old-world quality that’s inevitably lost in other varieties where machinery and big agribusiness is the driving force of production.

zimbabwe_cotton_picking

Yet the quality comes at a price, and not just in monetary terms: Zimbabwe is known for the oppressive dictatorship of the Mugabe regime, infamous for its numerous human rights violations. This inevitably raises the question: does Zimbabwe cotton’s quality come at the expense of supporting an oppressive regime, or is it more complicated than that?

In order to get some perspective on the quality of Zimbabwe cotton and the issues involved in its production, I spoke to Mikiharu Tsujita, the founder of Full Count. Not only is the brand one of Japan’s most respected denim producers, Full Count was also one of the first companies to use Zimbabwe cotton in the production of selvedge denim.

Full Count's Mikiharu Tsujita.

“I first became aware of Zimbabwe cotton around 1994,” Tsujita says. “But when Full Count started making jeans at the end of 1992, we’d been using American cotton. Ever since I was a teenager I was a fan of vintage American jeans, especially the leather patch Levi’s 501XX made between 1947 and 1953. These jeans didn’t necessarily fade better compared to other vintage jeans, but they were extraordinarily comfortable – the fabric had a distinct sheen and flexibility.  They were so comfortable that they were the only jeans I ever wore.”

Though these vintage Levi’s weren’t made with Zimbabwe cotton, they embodied the quality that Mr. Tsujita desired for his own company’s jeans, leading him to search for the perfect cotton. “I could never get over the amazing feeling of those leather patch 501XXs I wore when I was a teenager, so I made up my mind that somehow or another, I was going to make a fabric like that.”

Mr. Tsujita tested out various types of cotton, such as Peruvian, Egyptian, and Supima cotton. But amongst these better-known varieties, one type stood out: Zimbabwe cotton. Though it wasn’t particularly well-known at the time, its qualities immediately caught his discerning eye. “It wasn’t just the quality that appealed to me,” he says.  “This variety of cotton was hand-picked, resulting in reduced wastage – the parts of the cotton crop with flaws, which wasn’t suitable for production.  On top of that, the strong sun exposure of Africa facilitated the rapid growth of the cotton plants, producing an extremely strong, long fiber. Furthermore, this was organic cotton.”

With the help of a trading company, Mr. Tsujita was able to acquire Zimbabwe cotton and begin producing denim from it after carefully practicing dyeing and weaving techniques, elevating the cotton from obscurity to the present status it enjoys as perhaps the best cotton for denim production.

Detail of RJB jeans made from Zimbabwe cotton.

But Zimbabwe’s cotton isn’t produced in a vacuum. The African country has sadly been a hotbed for international controversy due to the authoritarian Mugabe regime, raising questions in the denim community about the ethics of using a cotton that might–directly or indirectly–contribute to supporting an oppressive regime with a poor human rights record.  A recent Reddit discussionignited a bit of debate concerning the ethics of buying jeans made with Zimbabwe cotton. But it raised an important question: to what extent are consumers of high-end denim made from Zimbabwe cotton continuing the oppressive state of affairs in Africa?

“It wasn’t until 1998 that I realized the situation in Zimbabwe,” Mr. Tsujita says. “At the time I was selling jeans in England, when a buyer advised me not to advertise the Zimbabwe cotton because of the country’s poor image. This prompted me to investigate what was happening in Zimbabwe, which from the Japanese perspective looked rather similar to conditions in North Korea. I understood why Zimbabwe had a bad image after the Mugabe regime resulted in lowered prosperity and hyperinflation.

“But once Full Count understood the situation, we resolved to help the people of Zimbabwe through the donations of Japanese non-government organizations. In addition, we helped charities, such as those selling Save Zimbabwe T-shirts. The NGO president Mr. Hayashimoto was also careful not to give the donations to the government, but instead get the money directly to the people of Zimbabwe, through initiatives such as study abroad opportunities for young people that will help to build a future for the people of Zimbabwe.”

Consumers of high-end denim are already quite conscious of where materials and labor for their favorite brands are sourced, but even the most meticulous brands aren’t immune to missteps in production or sourcing materials. In an era when clothing production is dominated by cheap labor and sketchy work conditions, a few companies like Full Count are thankfully concerned with the issues beyond the final product.

Are you a denimhead?

Lately I published more interesting denim literatures. This one interest me more because it’s about me, hardcore denimhead. Credit to iamalpham.com

What’s in your freezer? If the answer is “a pair of jeans”, then you’re definitely a Denim Head. If I ask how long you’ve been wearing a pair of jeans that have never been washed and the answer is six months… you better be a Denim Head!

So, what’s all the stir about, and why have raw jeans captured the interest and imagination of so many guys? Possibly because the topic involves a man’s favorite article of clothing – his jeans – and not because he doesn’t like to do laundry.

Men have been walking the earth in blue jeans since 1873, thanks to two entrepreneurs, Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss, who created the first pair and brand of blue jeans. Their comfort and durability quickly caught on, elevating the blue jean’s status to America’s favorite trouser in no time at all. It wasn’t long until the rest of the world shared our love affair, giving rise to their popularity, which continues to grow today. For short, men everywhere love a good pair of jeans and can’t imagine life without them!

This fondness has become personal, for lack of a better word. I don’t think many of us can deny the attachment we have to a favorite pair that’s been with us through thick and thin. Much like a child’s security blanket, men and their blue jeans are inseparable. How many of us would rather give up just about anything before letting go of such a good friend?  Lots, I’m sure, but no one more than the dedicated Denim Head, who takes his love of jeans to a whole new level.

Jeans are synonymous with comfort. They soften and fade with time, and transform into what feels like an extension of our bodies, or a second skin… and therein lies the love affair. But some of us want more, so much so, we’re willing to put the time and energy into tempering a pair of jeans to truly make them our own. Such commitment and dedication results in a pair of jeans that, like a mirror, reflects one’s very existence. Ok, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but a properly worn pair of dry denim jeans will present a “roadmap” of sorts, of the wearer’s individual body and its movements, while revealing where he’s been. Let me explain…

Cotton jean fabric is dyed, and is then washed once the jeans have been constructed – all before leaving the manufacturer and landing on a store shelf. This process of washing, known as “sanforization”, is done in order to reduce the amount of shrinkage that would naturally occur after their first wash post-purchase. This process ensures our jeans will shrink no more than 5% after we wash them the first time. Great idea – thank you Mr. Sanford Cluett. However, not all jeans today are sanforized, which means they will shrink approximately 10% after their first wash. That may not sound like much, but it’s pretty substantial. Non-sanforized jeans require they be purchased 2 inches larger in both the length and waistband, due to the extent cotton initially shrinks when wet. Raw denim is not sanforized, which is why the terms raw and dry are used, so remember to add those additional inches. If not, you’ll end up with a pair of high waters!

Sanforizing also removes some of the dye; creating a faded jean that doesn’t look brand new. The process also softens the denim, which adds to their immediate comfort, and accelerates the break-in period. Since raw denim is not sanforized, these jeans are purchased in full-dye/color, with a stiffness to match. The advantage to wearing this full-colored, purest form of denim is the color will fade in any area the denim is continuously rubbed or creased, as opposed to sanforized jeans that tend to fade all over, in a generalized manner. Overtime, the natural fading of raw denim creates patterns of wear, known as whiskering, which are unique to the individual, much like a fingerprint. Since this personalization takes months to achieve, raw denim must be cared for in a specific, disciplined way.

Raw Denim Care

Pre-soak: This step is optional and only needs to be done once if the jeans are too rigid and stiff to wear comfortably after purchasing.

  1. Fill a bathtub with 2-3 inches of hot, but not scolding, water. The hotter the water, the more dye will bleed from the fabric; defeating your mission.
  1. Turn the jeans inside out and lay them in the tub. In order to keep them completely submersed, place something heavy, like filled water bottles on top. Avoid moving the denim once it’s in the tub, since movement will cause more bleeding.
  1. Remove the jeans from the water after 1-2 hours, and hang them upside down to air dry. Hanging them upside down will reduce the shrinkage amount.

Once dry, put your raw denim jeans on and wear them as much as possible, since the more they’re worn, the more they’ll wear and fade. Some enthusiastic heads wear them daily or even to bed, in order to get the best results.

Odors, Smells, and Funk

Obviously, wearing anything everyday for months, without being washed, is bound to get nasty. Odor causing bacteria will inevitably cause a funk no one wants to smell. The following maintenance tips will help to keep things under control, so you won’t lose all your friends.

After wearing, hang the jeans up on a hanger, so they can air out. Do not fold them over a hanger, since this will prevent air from reaching the entire jean. It’s all about air circulation. Another benefit to hanging raw jeans, versus dropping them on the floor in a heap, is no unwanted creasing will occur.

As necessary and beneficial as hanging is, it won’t be enough to control the odor and bacteria indefinitely. Humid environments invite bacteria to grow, so where there’s bacteria, there’s odor. Naturally, the longer the jeans are worn, the funkier they’ll get, so, what’s a guy to do?

Take the jeans off and lay them flat on a bed or table. Empty the pockets and brush them off with your hand. Carefully fold the jeans and put them inside a plastic bag.

Put the bagged jeans inside the freezer and leave them in overnight, or for at least 5-6 hours, which will kill the bacteria. Remove the jeans from the freezer and the plastic bag and marvel at how fresh they smell! You might want to wait until they reach room temperature before putting them on… I’m just sayin’.

Another option for controlling stink is to use Febreze, which can be lightly sprayed on hanging jeans. I still recommend freezing them, but if freezing alone is not sufficient, give Febreze a shot.

Giving Raw Denim a Bath

Other than wearing your raw denim until you decide to give them a bath, which can be as long as twelve months, that’s all the maintenance you need to do. Speaking of baths, the following directions are recommended, in order to preserve your months of hard work.

  1. Do not wash raw denim in a washing machine.
  1. Fill a bathtub with 3-4 inches of cool to lukewarm water.
  1. Add a small amount, about 1/2 of the manufacturer’s recommended dosage, of gentle, non-bleach, dark-color-saving laundry detergent to water and mix. Woolite Extra Dark Care is a safe brand.
  1. Turn the jeans (or any raw denim) inside out and lay them flat in the tub. Grab those water bottles again and place them on top of the jeans to keep them submersed.
  1. Let them soak for 45 minutes.
  1. Empty the soapy water and rinse the jeans in cool water to remove the detergent.
  1. Remove the jeans and hang upside down to dry. Hanging them outside in the sun is safe to do.