For those ready to jump headlong into the cool waters of cult status exclusivity, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than a pair of jeans from Oni Denim. If the other players in the Japanese denim world aren’t niche enough for you, Oni Denim is literally a one-man show. Well, sort of. Legend used to have it that all the denim was woven on a single loom by one person, the somewhat enigmatic octogenarian, Oishi-san. While that’s probably not currently the case, Oni has no website and they do not advertise, so it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll be the only kid at the party rocking these jeans.
While the man himself may prefer to keep a low profile, his jeans are anything but subdued. Meaning “devil”, “troll”, or “ogre” in Japanese, Oni has some of the most unique denim available today, and they are known for their ultra-slubby textures and low-tension weaves. Creating denim like this takes a skilled operator and is notoriously hard on the loom, but if done right the result is simply gorgeous: irregular, neppy fabric that has an incredible uneven feel to it.
Don’t let Oishi-san’s age fool you however. Never one to look wistfully backwards, Oishi-san says he is not at all trying to reproduce jeans from a bygone era, but is instead constantly trying to develop new ideas and new denims for his dedicated fans to wear and enjoy. A few cases in point would be his stretch denim, green cast denim, “Secret” denim, and the lightweight but regal “Kiraku” denim. And if all this weren’t enough to have you stumble straight into the devil’s lair, the leather back patch on Oni jeans might be one of the coolest on the planet.
A word of warning however, as Oishi-san himself states quite plainly that he is ‘nearing the end’ of his time in the denim world, so if you are interested in a pair, sooner might be better than later.