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Latest Installment of The 501® Jean Documentary Explores Denim Culture in Japan


“Japanese take in Americana…they somehow manage to do it better,” begins Erik Brunetti, Founder, Fuct/SSDD at the start of the fourth installment of the documentary The 501 Jean: Stories of an Original. The latest episode takes viewers on a journey to Japan, exploring the rise of denim and cultural impact Levi’s® brand has had over the years.

In the 1950s, Hollywood movies and American rock ‘n’ roll swept Japan, influencing the way the Japanese youth dressed and expressed themselves. What did they want? Denim.

“The only problem was, it was incredibly difficult to get jeans in Japan at the time,” notes author David Marx. Undeterred by this challenge, Japanese tastemakers like Yo Shitara, President, BEAMS, would fly to America with empty bags and wads of cash in his pockets, returning with empty pockets and bags full of Levi’s® jeans.

Now, vintage denim collector Jeff Decker says Japan owns 70% of America’s vintage denim, with some pieces that have become so valuable that denim repairman Yawara Miura claims it’s not uncommon to fix product that’s worth as much as $40,000.

It’s no secret that people are passionate about our brand and this documentary fittingly showcases their enthusiasm. Learn more about the impact of denim on Japanese culture by watching the latest episode, below:

Watch the full-length documentary here.

Be sure to check it out and tell us what you think using #LIVEINLEVIS and follow @LEVIS on Twitter.