The whole world loves jeans. But they're also all too often thrown away. Kawahara Takuya upcycles this discarded denim combining different textures and fading to create stylish clothes with a unique sensibility that's seen them grow in popularity. His indispensable partner, Yamasawa Ryoji, buys used jeans from overseas by the ton. Both men are denim devotees who are dedicated to rescuing and reusing what was thrown out, making it cooler than cool again.
Since ancient times, the Japanese have believed that a life force resides in all creations.
Valuing and caring for the things we use, a "Zero Waste Life."
Pointing the way to better living for a new era.
Old denim has history,
a personality of its own.
I keep that from being destroyed.
A warehouse in a quiet Tokyo neighborhood.
A massive quantity of denim is kept here.
All of it damaged and no longer wearable.
Indeed, it's already been discarded as trash.
The man unpacking these disused jeans is Kawahara Takuya, creative director of apparel.
- Wow! This could be a problem.
- The staining is as bad as it gets.
The contents are moldy and badly stained.
Using jeans like this Kawahara performs manufacturing magic.
To be specific...
He turns discarded denim into desirable fashion.
Women particularly love his baggy jeans.
Two different kinds of denim combine to create a lovely silhouette.
And he produces many other remade creations.
Today he's looking for more old jeans to use as new material.
Using his keen sense of fashion, he can see the hidden potential.
This is torn but it'll probably
look good when repaired.
With the overall color fading,
I think it'll work.
This will do nicely.
The paint spatter and such,
you can feel the worker's backbone.
It's got interesting qualities.
Even jeans that are now just rags are a potential source of small parts.
The buttons are still good,
might be worth taking.
We shouldn't let them go to waste.
I never throw anything away.
The selected jeans are washed with soap and hot water to remove any dirt.
He tries to preserve the feel while delivering a clean product.
It's not just are they clean or not.
If there's a little dirt left behind,
well, that can make all the difference.
Kawahara began remaking jeans two years earlier after meeting Yamasawa Ryoji.
He approached Kawahara to tap his industry knowhow and start a business using discarded denim.
Yamasawa had 20 tons of discarded jeans he'd bought on a visit to the United States.
I thought it must be good for something.
Honestly, I just wanted it for myself.
I'd never seen so many pairs of 501s.
It was a big surprise.
But I also felt like
I could do something with it.
Two denim diehards.
Through trial and error, they developed a remade fashion line.
And just a year later, the storefront opened.
Yamasawa is the owner of the business.
You can see the jeans in the skirt.
It's a cute design.
How to make something cool?
I've always got a ton of ideas.
It's fun. Like bringing them back to life.
Today Kawahara has brought a load of freshly washed jeans.
- Thanks for your hard work!
- Thank you too!
I've got another load of denim.
This is a tailoring shop he's worked with for years.
He's here to discuss remaking ideas.
He wants to take advantage of holes in these jeans while also reviving them.
I think I should leave
the cross threads as they are...
It's rare they're so intact.
- What about here?
- It's paint, right?
- I think it looks a bit too dirty.
- Okay, let's cover it up.
A cleaner look is best, I think.
They should turn out pretty cool.
He'll also piece multiple pairs together to make a jacket.
How about this on the front. The paint.
I've never done it. It should be cool.
A lot of it was totally shredded
but I brought it for the parts.
I'd like to use these buttons here.
- It's fun to handle the material.
- Yeah, I agree.
It feels nice, doesn't it.
We all love jeans, right.
You have to for this kind of work.
Once all but tatters, the jeans are reborn as fine vintage fashion.
The holes are gone, but their outline remains as a stylish accent.
The natural stains in the thread add character.
A jacket pieced together from many pairs of Jeans.
The paint remaining on the fabric is boldly incorporated into the new design.
The recovered buttons are put to good use.
It's layered. So many elements!
Impossible to imitate.
The first to get a look at the new remakes is Yamasawa, the one who started it all.
Looks great. Perfect! Thanks!
- Pretty cool, right?
- Very cool.
Oh man! It's too cool!
These are great, the staining.
So good I don't want to sell them.
A department store in Tokyo's Shinjuku district.
Among all the famous brand names, Kawahara and Yamasawa's line of upcycled products has its own display.
- It's all from throwaways?
- Every single one.
What a waste that would've been.
They're vintage new clothes.
Being remade is what
makes them so fantastic.
Even if we didn't tell people
they were old denim...
they'd be cool, something to be valued.
You should feel my passion for the material.
I'm in trouble if you can't.