JAPAN DENIM Book : STUDIO D'ARTISAN feature translation
CLUTCH Magazine Denim
A commitment to creating products with originality.
STUDIO D’ARTISAN, established in 1979, is known as one of the first brands in the denim industry to produce reproduction jeans. Their use of vintage jeans as a base while adding an original playful design was unprecedented at the time. By contrast to most brands that sold their denim at prices under 10,000 yen, STUDIO D’ARTISAN sold each pair for over 20,000 yen. During the 1990s, they were acknowledged as pioneers of the “Made in Japan” denim trend, and their brand name gradually began to become recognized on a larger scale.
“When the brand was first established, we were barely recognized as a denim brand, and it was a very tough time for us. However, the fact that we didn’t stop making original jeans turned out to be a good thing for the brand. Using vintage designs as a base was something all brands did at the time. However, the idea to utilize designs from specific eras was an idea that was new to most denim brands at the time. What set us apart from other brands was our decision not to produce replica denim, but instead focusing on completely original denim.”
There was a reason why STUDIO D’ARTISAN didn’t do well in sales when they were first established. It had nothing to do with problems with quality or details, but more on the prices.
“At the time, the starting salary for university students was about 100,000 yen, while the jeans released by STUDIO D’ARTISAN cost 29,000 yen for a pair. On average, the cost of jeans on the market were 6,000 to 7,000 yen a pair, with some going as high as 10,000 yen, so our prices were about three times more expensive. Our jeans didn’t sell as much, as they were about the same price as the vintage jeans that were sold at the time.”
During the 1990s, the vintage denim trend became immensely popular, and people began to become more interested in jeans. Prices for jeans between 20,000 yen to 30,000 yen became the norm. Many denim brands began to pop up, making the jeans market even more vibrant.
“We then began making a wide range of different jeans through a trial and error process. We even made premium jeans that cost up to 100,000 yen for a pair. The strength of STUDIO D’ARTISAN was that we manufactured our denim completely in-house. Being able to be close to the actual manufacturing process and making completely original jeans was maybe what set us apart from other brands.”
*This article was previouly featured in JAPAN DENIM book.
Japan Denim Studio D'artisan