What comes to your mind when you think “Japanese textiles”? Probably traditional silk production and kimono, right? You might be surprised to learn that in the prefecture of Okayama in the southern area of the main Honshu island, the main textile export is actually denim!
While the area around Okayama has produced cotton for a very long time, its obsession with jeans started after WWII when second-hand jeans started circulation among the population, and grew in popularity. Around the same time, traditional Japanese dress was falling out of favor, and the producers of cotton and other materials were seeing a decline in demand for their products. This lead to them beginning production of jeans, and now are the number one producer of denim in Japan, as well as gaining world-wide attention from the fashion industry.
On my two trips to Okayama, I noticed an abundance of jeans shops, but didn’t pay a lot of attention to them until my second trip to Kurashiki, and even then didn’t bother much with going in a looking. I did however try “denim ice cream” as well as seeing some other denim-related products. Now that I know more about the industry, I’d love to go back and learn more!