JAPAN DENIM Book : ETERNAL feature translation
CLUTCH Magazine Denim
What was the true reason for Eternal’s transition to the authentic distressed processing?
Kojima, an area in southern Kurashiki has long been recognized as the mecca of Japanese denim not only throughout Japan but also by the rest of the world, is the home of Eternal, a brand that specializes in denim products. Nobuteru Maeno, the brand’s second director, joined the Eternal team in 2002. Compared to then, Kojima, and the level of denim manufacturing techniques have changed drastically, especially in terms of distressing techniques, which is Eternal’s biggest strength.
“Including developments in machinery, a great deal of progress has been made over the years. Back when I first started as the director, flat processing was the norm, but now we are able to express more realistic fading using resin distressing and utilizing other techniques.”
Local manufacturers, including Eternal, were undoubtedly pioneers in the development of authentic distressing techniques. “According to stories that I heard from my predecessors, the replica trend exploded onto the scene during the late 1990s. The influences of different popular brands played a huge role. However, in Eternal’s case, we were a bit late to the game, so there was no way to compete in the same field. That is why the brand decided to enter the path of used distress processing.”
Experimental distressed processed samples of denim fabrics referred to as “test tubes”. These test tubes, which have been kept in stock, are Eternal’s valuable assets. During the past few years, Maeno has removed himself from the working site and left the work to the younger staff members. However, last year he made a return to the site. In addition to the transition of staff members, Maeno says that there is another reason for his return. “Distressed processing techniques have evolved, but I felt that there was a risk that we might rely too much on gimmicks. I’m not saying that mechanized distressed processing is a bad thing. However, it is important to preserve the distressed processing knowhow of skilled craftsmen. As a staff, we talked it over and decided that we wanted to emphasize the important of creating unique and one-of-a-kind products, and not to rely solely on machines.”
After Maeno joined Eternal, one of his first tasks was to experiment with as many different distressed processing techniques as possible. “That’s all we did. All day long, we conducted trial and errors together with the craftsmen.”
Maeno’s feelings towards denim distressed processing are connected to the history of Eternal and the importance of protecting the techniques that their craftsmen had developed over the years.
“Without good fabrics, you cannot have good distressed processing. In the end, it’s a total effort. When you can combine the best of all parts, that’s when high quality denim is born.”
*This article was previouly featured in JAPAN DENIM book.
Japan Denim ETERNAL