"Our denim fabrics are woven on vintage shuttle looms, most of our sewing done on old Union Specials. We do not use those just because they are old, but only when they result in a quality superior to current technologies."
--- Ryuichi Adachi
Few people outside of Japan are familiar with Big John, but they're in fact one of the most important companies in today's denim culture. They were the first of many things - the first to produce Japanese-made jeans, the first to make pre-washed jeans, and the first to use denim woven with uneven yarns. The story of this pioneer goes back to 1940, when Kotaro Osaki founded a workwear and uniforms manufacturing company called Maruo Clothing Co. It wasn't long, however, before the brand started importing American clothing - including classic American jeans - after WWII, when Japan became infatuated with American culture and style.
When Maruo Clothing Co. was importing American clothing into Japan, they had to recut and remake jeans to fit Japanese bodies. In doing so, they learned a lot about how these garments were made. So in 1965, they bought fifty rolls of denim fabric from Atlanta, Georgia's Canton Mills, and created the world's first line of Japanese-produced jeans. The new sub-brand was called Canton, after the American mill they sourced their denim from, and it included a line of pre-washed jeans. Japanese consumers at this time were used to wearing second-hand clothing from America, so raw denim was just too stiff and uncomfortable for their tastes.
In 1967, Maruo Clothing Co. created another denim brand, this time called Big John. This line was initially made from Cone Mills' denim, but a few years later, they collaborated with a Japanese mill to produce the first line of Japanese denim. The result was a fully Japanese-made line of jeans, from the fabric to the manufacturing.
Today, Big John continues to make some of the highest-quality, Japanese-produced line of jeans in the world, and they've expanded into other types of garments, such as workwear-inspired chinos and chambray shirts. We at No Man Walks Alone are proud to carry their products and to be able to offer their incredible craft and rich history to our customers.