‘Weaving Shibusa’, the Documentary which Proves that the Best Denim Comes from Japan


WordsManon Baeza

Levi’s jeans may be known worldwide, but the documentary Weaving Shibusa proves that they are not the best in terms of quality – far from it, in fact.

Denim came into being during the Second World War, with American GIs being the first to wear it. This revolutionary material went on to be linked to globally-known stars such as James Dean, Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley, all of whom were known for their libertarian, rebellious image.

Soon, denim came to Japan in a period of notable industrialisation. This expansion was particularly due to the Osaka 5, experts in denim. They wished to produce the material using an ancient method which is notably used during the process of dyeing cotton. The cotton is dyed by hand, in indigo, and thus gains its iconic, intense navy-blue colour.

Today, this specific method is known worldwide as ‘selvedge edge’. The material stands out from the rest due to its coloured edge and, above all, its uniform finish, which prevents the denim from fraying and gives it a more robust quality. David Leisher, the filmmaker behind Weaving Shibusa, showcases this craftsmanship in his documentary, having gone to meet the craftspeople behind this unique weaving technique.