We've made no secret of our denim obsession, so yesterday was particularly thrilling: We got schooled in the art of premium denim design. Once you view the kind of masterful quality we did at this Orchard St. boutique and workshop, Amoskeag xx, you're not likely to go back to your standard old dungarees.
Owner and designe Kenji Kawasaki, and vice president Hideya Sagawa sat down with us to explain why we should look for selvedge edges, natural dyes, and technical craftsmanship when shopping for jeans.
These are the men to listen to. Kawasaki has been designing textiles for years, selling his work to a variety of familiar fashion chains such as J Crew (Sasha Obama's inauguration coat was composed of one of his creations), and Abercrombie and Fitch. Sagawa has worked with What Goes Around Comes Around as a buyer and visual merchandiser, all the while compiling an elaborate personal collection of denim including vintage Levi's and more obscure vintage brands. He is always specifically hunting for that precious selvedge edge -- meaning the bottom of the leg is literally woven into itself eliminating a "hem." In other words: no loose ends, no fraying, and extra durability.
Durability is a key word at Amoskeag. Kawasaki and Sagawa pointed out that while their prices may appear high (starting at $238 and going up to $498), these jeans are made to withstand a good 10 years of wear (we'd venture to guess even more.) Natural dyes preserve the cotton, slowing the aging process and the dyes employed are from a variety of creative sources -- including soy sauce! We kid you not!
The workshop is named after the largest denim factory in the United States (now defunct) Amoskeag. The xx refers to top quality denim (it's an industry rating system, xx being the best). Kawasaki, Japanese himself, keeps his production in Japan where several luxury shops sell the line.
Inspiration for each season is, logically, dictated by fabric swatches. Spring '10 is indigo. He laughed that the entire look will be head to toe blue. While we may have laughed at the thought, we also kind of love the idea, thinking of Stephanie Seymour in a denim button down and ripped blue jeans circa 1992 ... these are definitely pieces that could make the look relevant again.
Amoskeag xx is located at 96 Orchard Street, between Delancey and Broome Streets.