Denim nerds, your time is now.

Words by

Giulia Brugliera

Denim nerds, prepare to drop with excitement. There’s a new centre opening in LA, specifically for the purpose of innovating denim. 

'Innovate' is the key word here. Starting with five full-time specialists in jeans development (yes, that’s a thing), the Denim Innovation Centre is set to be a growing hub for information on denim.  

It’s a venture by the Fast Retailing Group (J Brand, UNIQLO, Helmut Lang) and will be spearheaded by denim genius, Masaaki Matsubara.

As director, Matsubara will lead the centre in developing innovative technologies and materials for denim. One area he cites for improvement is comfort:

“The original concept of denim is not necessarily that comfortable, but we want to keep bringing more and more comfort as we move forward,” he said.

“For example, vintage finish and authentic trim are currently very pronounced in the marketplace. So the look and feel need to be like reclaimed denim. But wearing it, you’ll be positively surprised by how comfortable it is.”

Great news. 

For a total denim lover like Matsubara it’s “a dream come true.”

Those were his exact words. Pause as heart swells. 

The centre itself will be doing *a lot* for global denim development. Despite being a Fast Retailing Group initiative, the centre will also open to contracted producers as a research centre. The aim is to push denim forward globally.

“It's supposed to be a hub of all these different activities,” said Matsubara. 

“The development in the centre will definitely pave the way for the future. And of course, that’s not necessarily for the sake of the Fast Retailing brands. The challenge is, how can we make sure we make a solid contribution to different brands?” 

Given the facilities, we’re expecting great things. The centre will host a full range of in-house equipment for product development. If you’ve been following our Insta stories, you’ll know just how intense this equipment is.  

This will mean faster evaluation of sample products and faster product development. In excellent news, it also means greater research and development on eco-friendly production. The research team will be focusing on both the chemicals and techniques used for fading and distressing jeans, to develop more sustainable options.

Despite bringing development processes in-house, the initiative will see work between UNIQLO and Kaihara Denim continue. As one of the world’s best denim manufacturers, Kaihara will play a key role in the continuing innovation of denim. 

The first project for the facility will be research on jeans for both UNIQLO and J Brand. Products developed for both brands will be available from this time next year. 

Watch this space. 


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