Last week we unveiled the inaugural lookbook for E.N.D Edwin & Denim, the new contemporary menswear line from Edwin, the renowned Japanese denim brand. Founded in 1947, Edwin has long been an exemplar of craftsmanship and innovation, and its new E.N.D collection represents a major push to elevate the label's presence stateside. The line will be available exclusively in the U.S., featuring a design theme predicated on a concept summed in a pithy tag line, "Embrace the Essential and Remove Excess." We spoke to denim expert and designer Yutaka Endo, who formerly served as the denim designer at Edwin Japan for six years, followed by a stint as designer at Citizens of Humanity and a subsequent return to Edwin to head up the E.N.D line. Joining the conversation was Deepak Gayadin, formerly of G-Star and now a brand consultant for E.N.D. Edwin and Denim.
Freshness: In a crowded denim marketplace, how does Edwin set itself apart from the pack?
Deepak: What make Edwin different from the competitors is that we're trying to develop a more contemporary Japanese lifestyle brand based on "Tokyo Slow." It's very clean, very organic but very, very affordable. I believe that the price is very competitive and our inspiration is using the old, beautiful, Japanese history, but bringing it in a very contemporary way. We all know that the average Japanese denim brand is always based on the Levi's heritage, work wear, and that is something we don't want to achieve because everybody is doing that.
What are the details that make a pair of Edwin jeans that make it stand out?
Deepak: First of all, the jeans are produced in the factories of Edwin outside of Japan, because inside Japan, the jeans will be super expensive, but luckily we have two factories in China. They're on the Japanese work ethic and heritage, so the fit and are always on a very high level but very affordable. I think what makes our jeans different is the small little detail. One detail I'm very proud of is the leather patch, featuring a Japanese kimono print. It's the small little details that elevate the jeans but still respect the heritage of Edwin.
Can you explain the origin of the new E.N.D line?
Deepak: The origin of the line is based on Tokyo Slow collection and the Tokyo Modern. The Tokyo Slow collection is inspired about by a little green oasis in the middle of the Tokyo where people have coffee, an organic place where people just find their peace in the city. The second one is the Tokyo Modern, the opposite of Tokyo Slow. It's much cleaner, it's much more elevated, it's much more tailored, but it has this really beautiful small ribbon detail, what we call Mizuhiki. Mizuhiki is a very old traditional ribbon that the Japanese people use when they give somebody a gift. It's something that I really love and it's the only detail we use on the garment. So you have two collections: one is a little younger with the kimono print and the other one is a little bit cleaner and a little bit older.
Yutaka: I just would like to explain the Mizuhiki concept. It is like the embracing of the essential. The Japanese ribbon and this concept is respecting the Tokyo Modern. This is a traditional way of how to use this kind of Mizuhiki, like decorating the card and envelope, the Mizuhiki shape is really clean and very recognizable. We really want to respect this kind of ribbon to the Tokyo Modern collection. This looks not only has a great impact, but also, this has a very great message. It's kind of good luck hopefulness, love, compassion.
One of the philosophies behind the new line is "Embrace the Essential and Remove the Excess." Can you talk about that a little bit more?
Deepak: When we talk about the essentials, what is it all about in fashion and in denim? I think it's all about quality and fit and of course the pricing. That's why we don't want to add too many unnecessary items or details into the collection. What we do is, because of the details we are using like the Mizuhiki, the kimono print, they are the essentials of the culture.
Do you have any more special projects coming out of Edwin in the near future that you want to talk about?
Deepak: Maybe in the future we will launch another line under the E.N.D. collection. Now you have Tokyo Slow and you have Tokyo Modern, maybe we'll come one day with Tokyo Sport. We just started but I'm sure that in the near future we will come with another line under the E.N.D. collection.
Yutaka: Also I could say maybe a women's line in the future.
Any plans to increase your visibility in the U.S.?
Deepak: One of the thing we are working on, and hopefully everything goes well, we are planning to open a store in March. The store will embrace the DNA of E.N.D., so it will be inspired by the Tokyo Slow movement. The location we're looking at, and it's already secured, is in Nolita. It's not going to be a typical denim store where you have racks with only jeans and a denim, but it's going to be more of an experience of Tokyo Slow.
Yutaka, as our resident denim expert, do you have a single pair in your closet that you can identify as your favorite pair of jeans?
Yutaka: Actually I have so many denim in my closet. Of course I have everyday jeans like Levis, Wrangler, Lee, but right now my favorite is the E.N.D. Tokyo Modern Rose.