Last Thursday night saw the official launch of Washi Jeans in Hong Kong. This event was tucked away in the back streets of Wanchai, where a creative lifestyle movement is growing of fashion designers, boutiques and cafes. On arrival, guests were led along a selvage denim carpet, flanked by handmade Japanese paper lanterns, to be greeted by an authentic Sake wagon and custom Washi paper fans. Delstore one of Hong Kong’s leading independent fashion boutiques hosted the launch.
Washi’s designer, Hiro Yoshikawa is interviewed on the following page.
By Luke Norris
Interview with Hiro Yoshikawa
You have more than 20 years experience working with denim. Can you tell us more about your background in denim?
I have been working with over 48 major jeans brand from worldwide past more than 20 years. Mainly I am helping create new wash for the brand and still working for it. My Denim teacher is Mr Nishie from Japan. Mr Nishie family is one of the major laundry in Japan and I spend most of my life time in there. I start love wash when I saw one pair of indigo jeans turn into vintage look.
When I want to have something new in my life, I am always in laundry in Japan.
What sparked you to create your own brand Washi Jeans?
Each of jeans wash has character same as human has different face and character. After I had so many experience working with many brand around world, I found that almost all the brand are same in the end. and losing character after they become well know in market. For me, Japan is most creative country for jeans and paper.
Denim is same as Japanese paper making for me. Denim from cotton tree, and paper from wood. All from nature and we know how to create nice jeans and paper art using pure water. However,only few nice jeans factory and people left in japan and it will be no more if someone not wake up.
We must protect nice history and technique forever even world change so quick. I took almost 3 years to build up this brand call ” Washi “ Washi means paper in japan. My starting was making japanese paper yarn and using in one pair of jeans. There are so many kind of nice wash which people never know. I will introduce those nice japanese art and wash from washi. Washi jeans are all from Japan.
What does Japanese Salvaged denim mean to you?
Vintage. Salvage denim machine is all from old vintage waving machine in Japan. Washi using all vintage selvage fabric.
Who is a Washi fan?
Washi fan will be People understand what is real jeans. I want to say to the people that Don’t make cheap jeans any more and don’t throw away the jeans. and please save cotton. One pair of Jeans will be same as your skin. Cotton and Paper is alive. Not the machine. It will be turn into vintage if you love real quality of one pc jeans.
Who understand and he or she will be Washi fan.
I know a lot of attention to detail has gone into each jeans design. What makes these different to other jeans in the market?
Jeans are not only from out looking. People forgot what is nice detail and nice quality. Each detail has meaning in washi jeans.
What are your thoughts on the jeans market at the moment?
Dead. People makes jeans dead. And No one understand why people make jeans dead.
You spend a lot of your time between Japan, China and Hong Kong. What motivated you to launch Washi Jeans in Hong Kong?
I can look at jeans culture and what going on around the world from Hong Kong. I am japanese but I want to use beautiful Japanese culture mix with western culture into jeans. For example, fit. Japanese jeans always cant’ fit western people body shape and Western fit can’t fit for Asian people. Washi can fit both fit after 2 years testing. Hong kong is my best country to focus what I want create. I want thank to Hong Kong past over 20 years and it must be first country launch washi jeans.
Your other passion is Sake. Which your family has been producing for over five generations. Has this played in the spirit of Washi Jeans?
I grow up in sake factory when I was born. Everyday I saw nice water, Rice, and Very skill worker inside factory. Sake is same as you take care your baby. Technician will take care 24 hours everyday. and can create best sake. Jeans x Paper x Sake production are all from same passion.
Describe Washi Jeans in three words?
Skill, Focus, Real.