Why Samurai Jeans Is the Master of Quality Selvedge denim

When it comes to Japanese denim, there are only a few crazy inventors. And one of them is Samurai Jeans.

Aditya Roy
6 min readJul 10, 2023

While most Japanese denim brands are based in Okayama, this one finds its home in Osaka. Just a 3-hour drive away, Osaka homes the big 5: Fullcount, Denime, Studio D’Artisan, Evisu, and Warehouse &Co. But Samurai Jeans entered the Japanese denim scene with a bang.

Nogami-san holding a pair of Samurai’s

Founded in 1997 by Toru Nogami (the guy above), the Japanese jeans brand positions Japanese tradition rather well, drawing inspiration from Sengoku-era Samurais. It leads its design, materials, and detailing ideas with a firm grip. Especially the detailing.

Japanese denim brands are placed in the 70s. And Samurai Jeans splashed onto the scene in the 90s when it was becoming popular. It followed in the footsteps of other brands by creating its own version of the Levi’s 501 original fit jeans in 15 oz. Usually, a Levi’s 501 is made in 12.5 oz. But it was rather soon that Nogami started trying out heavier and more carpet-like fabrics. In fact, they were one of the very first brands to play with the idea of 17oz fabrics.

Of course, a 25 oz fabric wouldn’t be far along now, would it? Well, here’s a pair of those heavyweights.

Samurai’s 25oz blue jeans. It is stiff and soft at the same time.

On a side note, I recently watched a review by an underrated YouTuber named Fjorde. He spoke of the heavy and sturdy 25 oz selvedge denim jeans. It is so thick that it can become quite stiff and oftentimes abrasive. Over the course of a few weeks, the pair of jeans becomes flexible and moulds to your body. Nonetheless, it is selvedge jeans meant for the cold-cold winters.

But heavier fabrics aren’t their key concern. It is the little things that matter for Samurai Jeans. They take into account the climate, the nature of the denim, and uneven yarns. Also, they stick to traditional dyeing techniques and the fit of the jeans. Of course, as a Japanese brand, they rely on vintage handlooms to create their jeans.

In this blog, we discover what makes Samurai Jeans a heavy-weight among Japanese denim brands. It includes everything ranging from design to detailing. So, if you are a denim lover, stick around, you’ll love this article.

Samurai Jeans’ Quick Entry Into the Denim Market

Samurai launched into the Japanese denim space with its exquisite detailing and unique textures. Somehow, they offer perfection with every pair. They are the only company that makes selvedge jeans with Japanese cotton. In fact, once they grew their own cotton, and of course that pair costs over $10,000. But still, it's cool that they are innovating. Here’s a pair of those too.

Samurai cotton project’s latest pair of jeans.

Also, many claim that Nogami is the first to have created heavier jeans than the Levi’s 501:

You have to understand that at that time even the threads needed to make this kind of denim didn’t exist.

When it comes to their reinvention of the Levi’s 501 original fit jeans, they stick with the 15oz fabric. This specific denim helps them get closer to the strength and robustness needed for a thick, carpet-like pair of jeans. Also, a lot has to do with transcending conventions in denim-making by coming closer to their Samurai roots.

As mentioned earlier, they have used 17oz denim skilfully too. In the pursuit of heavier denim, the brand has broken the commonly held notion that fabrics heavier than this specification cannot fade. But trust me, Samurai has some amazing faded jeans. Here, take a look for yourself.

A pair of faded blue jeans by Samurai. You will see electric blue fades.

There are no compromises to colour-fading, expression, and texture. You can expect electric blue streaks across a year-old pair of jeans. In fact, creating heavy selvedge denim that offers impressive colour fading is quite a challenge. And Samurai shines in this regard.

The Eye-Catching Detailing of Samurai jeans

What grabs denim lovers is the subtle detailing and features of Samurai Jeans. A pair of selvage jeans has a pink and silver ID which is technically called silver lamè. And it reminds us of the sheen and sharpness of a samurai’s katana.

The detailing on Samurai Jeans, ranging from the pockets to the rivets.

Pretty neat, right?

Their attention to detail is expressed in every aspect of their denim. This helps them distinguish themselves from other brands that follow American classics very, very closely.

We can see a silhouette and design much like Levi’s 501s from the 40s. But it is executed with a harsher and heavier fabric. Harshness and heaviness — traits of samurais, right?

The brand incorporates bolts and rivets that come straight from the American classics. But they have drawn inspiration from their roots by including elements like a blossoming Sakura and Japanese drums. This thoughtful combination of an authentic Japanese look with borrowed tradition makes this brand that denim lovers keep coming back to.

When you look at the slubby texture of Samurai denimwear, you will notice many details that aren’t apparent immediately. For instance, the arches stitched in Indigo in the model 710 will appear after a while. Also, the special lining and fabric will widen the jeans’ silhouette.

And we know that Japan doesn’t produce a lot of cotton. But Samurai Jeans does use its own cotton for some of its limited-edition runs. These are grown and sourced directly in Japan in very small batches without the use of chemicals. Here are some of the earlier runs from the Samurai Cotton Project.

Samurai jeans made from Samurai cotton.

The Handpicked Denim That Samurai Jeans uses

Now when it comes to the quality of jeans, it all depends on the denim. This is where Samurai doesn’t leave a stone unturned when making men’s blue jeans.

A man wearing a pair of Samurai’s

They work a lot on their denim. And for their classic heavy models, the brand abides by short fiber cotton.

Short fiber is often used for making clothing that has a soft texture, thickness, and warmth.

The denim brand also focuses on long-fiber varieties. For instance, the Yamato series is a selection of Egyptian cotton and Pima cotton which give the denim a smooth yet slubby texture. You see, Samurai’s denim has character.

What Makes Samurai special?

When you receive the long-awaited package of your first pair of Samurai Jeans, you can smell the paint. That’s the indigo. Put on a pair of them and you will feel them hard and stiff. That’s because the denim takes a while to break in.

A pair of faded Samurai Jeans featuring the famous electric blues

The break-in for these jeans is quick and they become comfortable in a few days. Over time, the denim will become comfortable and luxurious. You won’t even know you are wearing a pair of Samurai’s. They’ll fade beautifully and mould to your legs in the shapeliest manner. And over time, they will become extremely comfortable.



Aditya Roy

I’m a copywriter with a passion for learning and playing chess. I write on fashion, technology, and literature. Do enjoy my work and leave any suggestions.