Momotaro was founded in Kojima, Okayama in 2006 and keeps true to their motto of “Made by hand without compromise” by using only hand-cropped, high-gloss Zimbabwean cotton, in-house weaving, and meticulous attention to detail. Named after a centuries-old Japanese folk tale, Momotaro translates as “Peach Boy” and, in the original version, tells a story of rejuvenation where an elderly couple regain their youth by eating a magic peach found floating in the river. Thus rejunvenated, they give birth to the folk hero Momotaro who, being a good lad, sallies forth and lays waste to the bands of demons that have long terrorized the land. It was in this same spirit of rejuvenation that Hisao Manabe, renowned indigo dyeing master and president of Japan Blue, established Momotaro Jeans. Japan Blue also owns Collect Mills, Rampuya, and Japan Blue Jeans. This was also the same Manabe-san who devised and created the famous Jeans Street in Kojima, Okayama, now a popular mecca for denimheads worldwide.
Momotaro jeans come in three basic collections: the Vintage Label, which features raw, unsanforized 14.7oz denim, the Copper Label which is sanforized and washed in the ocean off Okayama, and the well-known Going to Battle Label, which is also a once-washed, sanforized 15.7oz denim. This last line also features the love-it-or-hate-it pink inseam stitching and white “battle stripes” on the back pocket. Even the selvedge line is peach colored. Momotaro prides themselves on dyeing their denim darker than any other brand, so dark in fact that off the shelf you’d be forgiven for thinking they were black.
Known to be slow-faders, it can take months of wear for Momotaros to start giving up their indigo, but once they do the results can be stunning. If you’re looking for really funky, slubby denim however, you’ll probably want to steer away from their three main labels. In Momotaro’s case, the Zimbabwean cotton creates a denim that soon becomes extremely smooth, soft, and has a regal feel to it that just gets better with age. And in Japan at least, some models even come with a written 10-year warranty against any manufacturer’s defects, and they’ll even restitch any worn threads or repaint your battle-damaged stripes for free. Unheard of in this world of mass-produced, throwaway clothing, it’s just another reason that Momotaro are considered some of the best jeans available.
Currently run by the father and son team of Hisao and Katsu Manabe, Momotaro promises to keep making the best jeans possible, without compromise, far into the future. As of 2020, you can also see their own shuttle loom mill in operation right outside their company headquarters, literally steps away from Kojima station.