Miyabi - 3 years of labor and refinement from Tanuki
Years ago I published my first denim review as a guest reviewer on my buddy Greg, AKA The Denimhound's blog. That review was of Tanuki's 18oz Earth denim, which was one of Tanuki's most popular releases in the history of the brand, and for good reasons!
I have had the immense honor of becoming friends with some of the good folks at Tanuki over the years, simply by being a massive fan of theirs and always buying, wearing and reviewing their pieces. Toshi-san (you might remember him from the Redcast and Amagumo fabrics from last year) who is now head of their fabric creation was quite excited for me to receive their newest pair, which I have the privilege of being the first to hold and behold!
They call this denim "Miyabi" which stands for grace, elegance and refinement. The name is apropos to the fact that this denim has been in the works for over 3 years, in a quest to recreate the aforementioned "Earth" denim. For several reasons the Earth denim was not able to be created, for one, the factory that spun the yarn has been destroyed in a natural disaster, and to add to that, the cotton that was used is no longer even available.
Continue on for more details about what went into this recreation of the iconic Earth denim!
Cut and Fit:
If you've read any of my previous reviews, you probably already know that I hold a fondness for Tanuki's regular straight cut. I won't go into too much detail about the cut and fit because these things have not changed, but in short, I prefer this fit because I am a tall slim dude, and I just find the regular straight to be one of the more flattering fits for my body type. Plus, the rise is roomy and comfy, and it doesn't look stupid when you tuck a shirt into them like it does with some of the lower cut jeans out there.
My opinion on sizing has not changed, so I am copy and pasting this excerpt from my last review.
I almost always choose one wash when I have the chance. I am well passed the novelty of soaking my jeans when I get them. I choose unsanforized fabric for the character it exhibits, not for the shrink to fit quality.
I have a very strict rule of thumb in choosing a size for myself when considering unsanforized denim (which is all I will ever wear, from now until the end of my denim days); size for the raw waist measurement, and the one-washed measurement for everything else. In this case, a size 32 works just great for me. I’ve tried 32’s and 33’s from Tanuki, and while the 33’s fit great to start, they always stretch out to be too large. Unsanforized denim, especially loose-weave denim like this, will usually stretch back out to at LEAST the raw waist measurement, and usually beyond.
*Note that in some cases only one-wash measurements are available, in this case, allow for an inch or two of stretch in the waist.
I've opted for a size 33 again, because my red casts which are pretty get daily wear, have broken in and fit me perfectly.
This time I decided to take measurements fresh out of the package, and to also give them a hot wash and see if there would be any more shrinkage despite these being unsanforized one-wash from the factory.
Front Rise 12
Back Rise 14
After a hot wash:
Front Rise 12
Back Rise 13.5
And finally, after wearing them for a short break in period:
Front Rise 12.25
Back Rise 14.25
Knee no change
Hem no change
Inseam no change
As you can see, my method for sizing unsanforized jeans is pretty sound. The waist not only shrunk substantially with my hot wash, but stretched out even further than what they were at when they arrived. The break in period was nonexistent, I wore these for an evening and they were immediately comfortable. My method for the hot wash was just to throw it in my front loading washing machine on HOT with no detergent, with a rinse cycle and no spin (it just rocks back and forth gently), and then hang dry.
Tanuki keeps things simple and consistent with their details, at most you will find some use of different color threads, and hardware. You can always expect to find their signature Ni logo on their leather patch and embroidered on the rear right pocket.
This pair differs from the rest that I have owned by opting for silver colored buttons instead of the usual copper. They have a pewter vibe in the color and finish. Nice touch.
I am a fan of the bright blue thread that they use in some areas on this pair.
When you can always count on the fit and details, the fabric is where you have something to get excited about. This Miyabi fabric is no exception! Weighing in at a substantial 18.7oz, and with a fairly loose weave, this denim is beaming with character.
I am told that in the search to recreate the Earth denim, they ended up using quite a unique range of fabrics and dyes to achieve a similar look. For the weft we have an unbleached organic Peruvian cotton, which has just the loveliest feel and beige color to it. The warp is a combination of Texas and Californian cottons, providing most of the texture that you see (and will be able to feel); stiff, crisp and hairy, almost like paper.
Update* March 16- I am told by Toshi-San that the yarn for the weft underwent a very unique and costly process that involved submerging the yarn into barrels with a special mix of woods and metals. What this did was soften the cotton without damaging it, and the reaction caused by the oils in the metals and wood are responsible for the lovely shade of beige. How cool is that!
If you scroll up to the top of this review and click the link to my original review of the 18oz Earth denim, you will find the similarity uncanny in some of the close-ups of this fabric!
The natural weft with that bright blue selvedge ID is gorgeous.
The massive amount of slub provides us a nice peek-a-boo of the Peruvian weft showing through, in a very irregular yet consistent manner across the entirety of the garment.
The indigo dye provides a wide range of blues, which you can even see even in photograph, this color variation is due to the intermingling of pure natural and synthetic indigo dyes, which is going to create some beautiful fades.
Though this denim is quite different from the Red Cast that I reviewed last year, I wanted to provide some comparison shots because I do feel that there are some similarities. It will be interesting to see how this pair develops against the fades of the Red Cast.
My Red Cast have been worn on and off (but mostly on) for the past year.
Sashiko repairs, to me signifies love and the desire to hold onto a garment, rather than to replace it, which is something that you don't find much outside of this area of slow fashion.
Tanuki's Miyabi will be available in several fits. In addition to the Regular Straight, The Miyabi fabric will also be made available in their High Tapered and Tapered cuts, as well as their Type III jacket.
I am planning on this being an evolving review, so check back later in the year and I will add some pictures of how the Miyabi are evolving!
As always, thank you Tanuki and family for creating beautiful, wearable art. It's an honor and a privilege for me to be able to wear your jeans! Toshi-san; well done yet again, my friend! I think that you may have reached your peak, because I don't think it gets better than this, but I look forward to you proving me wrong.
Cheers my friends,